Not all members of the punditocracy are always wrong.
Here are some opinion-makers who thought Sarah Palin would make a terrific vice presidential selection for McCain more than two months ago.
Jack Kelly, of the Toledo Blade, is narrowly the earliest I’ve found, writing on June 7th:
There is one potential running mate who has virtually no down side. Those conservatives who have heard of her were delighted to learn that McCain advance man Arthur Culvahouse was in Alaska recently, because they surmised he could only be there to discuss the vice presidential nomination with Gov. Sarah Palin.
At 44, Sarah Louise Heath Palin is both the youngest and the first female governor in Alaska’s relatively brief history as a state. She’s also the most popular governor in America, with an approval rating that has bounced around 90 percent.
This is due partly to her personal qualities. When she was leading her underdog Wasilla High School basketball team to the state championship in 1982, her teammates called her “Sarah Barracuda” because of her fierce competitiveness.
Two years later, when she won the “Miss Wasilla” beauty pageant, she was also voted “Miss Congeniality” by the other contestants.
Sarah Barracuda. Miss Congeniality. Fire and nice. A happily married mother of five who is smart and drop-dead gorgeous.
But it’s mostly because she’s been a crackerjack governor, a strong fiscal conservative, and a ferocious fighter of corruption, especially in her own party.
Ms. Palin touches other conservative bases, some of which Mr. McCain has been accused of rounding. Track, her eldest son, enlisted in the Army last Sept. 11. She’s a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association who hunts, fishes, and runs marathons. A regular churchgoer, she’s staunchly pro-life.
Kimberley Strassel of the Wall Street Journal said Mr. McCain should run against a corrupt, do-nothing Congress, a la Harry Truman. If he should choose to do so, Ms. Palin would make an excellent partner.
“The landscape is littered with the bodies of those who have crossed Sarah,” pollster Dave Dittman told The Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes.
Mr. Obama’s support has plunged recently among white women. Many Hillary Clinton supporters accuse him – I think unfairly – of being sexist. Having Sarah Palin on the ticket could help Mr. McCain appeal to these disgruntled Democrats.
Running mates usually aren’t named until the convention. But if Mr. McCain should name Ms. Palin earlier, it would give America more time to get to know this extraordinary woman. And because she’s at least a dozen feature stories waiting to be written, she could help him dominate the news between now and the conventions.
Another reason for selecting Sarah Palin early would be to force Barack Obama to make a mistake. He’d have to rule out choosing someone like Virginia Sen. Jim Webb as his running mate, for fear of exacerbating charges of sexism. And if he chose a woman other than Hillary Clinton, the impression Democrats are wimpy would be intensified.
But only a day later, on June 8th, Beldar published what would become the first of a series of posts strongly arguing for Palin.
I’ve spent several hours now reading about, and watching video clips of, 44-year-old Alaska governor Sarah Heath Palin. There are indications that she’s on McCain’s radar, along with many other candidates. I, for one, am very, very impressed with her. Indeed, I’m convinced already that it’s no fluke that she’s more popular with her constituents than any other current American governor (roughly a 90% approval rating). And I’m finding myself increasingly receptive to, and even persuaded by, the idea that she would be not merely a bold pick, but a smart pick, as McCain’s running mate.
If you’re not acquainted with Gov. Palin already, you owe it to yourself to get up to speed. …
Sarah Palin actually risked her entire political career to take on her own party’s entrenched leadership, and then thoroughly and effectively cleaned house in the largest state in the Union. Between her and Obama, who’s already proven him- or herself more likely to provide the “change you can believe in”?
This spring she used her line-item veto to cut $268 million from state spending bills â€” in a state that, comparatively, is flush with money, which makes pork projects almost irresistible. She resisted, and it appears that she’s going to make her vetoes stick. That’s the antidote to Bridges to Nowhere! (Which she opposed, by the way; the federal money originally committed to it, she’s now re-directed into more appropriate infrastructure programs.)
As governor, she’s also pushed hard against other entrenched interests, including the energy companies (BP, ConocoPhilips, and ExxonMobil) who hold the lease rights to much of Alaska’s oil and gas wealth. She is a fierce, knowledgeable, and articulate advocate of responsible development of Alaskan resources to benefit not only its own residents â€” who actually pay among the nation’s highest gasoline prices and have the least access to affordable and clean natural gas â€” but also the other 49 states, and she recognizes that this is not just a matter of economic necessity, but ultimately of national security.
Palin has spoken out and brought suit to prevent radical environmentalists from exploiting the ridiculous naming of the polar bear as an endangered species, showing no hesitation to stand up against them or their well-wishers in the federal bureaucracy. Yet she and her family are enthusiastic outdoorsmen â€” engaging in ice fishing, hunting, and snow-mobiling (her husband has won the 2000-mile Iron Dog race four times). Check out this campaign video of her and her family loading up their single-prop float-plane (not a corporate jet!) with sporting gear â€” that’s got to be at least as cool as Obama shooting hoops.
It doesn’t hurt that Gov. Palin is attractive and photogenic. (She was not, as Jonah Goldberg recently wrote, Miss Alaska, but she was Miss Wasilla; last December Vogue Magazine came to photograph her and her three daughters back in Wasilla; and comedian Craig Ferguson declares that she has a “sort of naughty librarian vibe.”) But she’s climbed through local and state politics on her own â€” not based on who her daddy or her husband is (or was).
Beldar may have influenced the thinking of sometimes-somewhat-Conservative Ann Althouse, who on June 12th, made a 10:06 video of a discussion with Rachel Sklar in which she strongly contrasted Palin with Hillary, as a woman who made it into high office on her own.
They should all be feeling pretty good about now.