I’ve had a lot of time to think lately, while assembling cribs and painting and cleaning and swapping out hinges and handles.  I think Sarah Palin is a feint.  This is going to sound kind of like a conspiracy theory, but I think Karl Rove kind of wants to be a conspiracy theory, so when he’s involved it might be sensible.

I suspect Sarah Palin will not actually be John McCain’s running mate – that she’ll withdraw if not this week, then next.  In the meantime, she has already almost accomplished the goal of the feint.  Democrats (and some Republicans and independents) are talking about her inexperience and comparing it to Obama’s, saying how ridiculous it is that McCain would call Obama unready to lead and then pull a stunt like Palin.  But as they do that, they are introducing the idea in their own mind that Obama -is- inexperienced.  If Palin was a crazy choice, and she’s inexperienced like Obama, does that make him a crazy choice, too?  She’s also making a more stolid choice (I don’t know that would be, but a number of people including Lieberman, Romney, and Huckabee are being thrown around) come off as a favorable comparison.  Whoever McCain would choose for a true running mate, he (or she) would be a favorable comparison to Palin, which automatically casts him (or her) in a positive light.  It’s an old retail trick: instead of asking a shopper if they like something and want to buy it, you put it next to a different object and ask them which they like better, they’re immediately more inclined to make a purchase.  Lastly, whether McCain ends up with a woman for a running mate or not, he extended a hand to Clinton-or-busters at just the right time.

In the next two months, a stunt like Palin would be forgotten or forgiven, but the advantage he’d gain from tricking Obama’s supporters into admitting he’s inexperienced, from boosting the impression of his true running mate, and from getting hooks in some small crazy percentage of voters could be just what he needs to deflate the momentum Obama gained during his acceptance speech.