This Sarah Palin VP choice reminds me a bit of the time, in 2004, when Jack Ryan had to drop out of his Senate race because of something to do with Seven of Nine, and so at a rather late-in-the-game moment the Republican Party needed someone to challenge Barack Obama. And apparently they decided that they needed a to put a black guy up against a black guy, so following a national search they very wisely drafted the extremely well-qualified and not-at-all-insane Alan Keyes, a bona fide Republican black guy, who promised to take the fight directly to the Democratic black guy.
In the end, of course, Barack Obama managed to eke out a narrow victory in that race with only a 43-point margin.
How is Palin like Keyes? Republican essentialism! Keyes was a way of saying, "We have black guys, too!" Palin is McCain reacting to Hillary Clinton candidacy by saying, "We have women, too!"
Listen, there is something significant about having a woman on a national ticket, period. It's even possible that Palin could turn out to be a tactically smart pick -- if Palin does a bang-up job, or (more plausibly) if Democrats overplay their hand in attacking her.
I just think it's not great politics for a party to allow the machinery of its decision-making to be quite this transparent. Like Keyes, Palin fits one essential characteristic but comes with a whole menu of more serious political problems. My gut feeling is that this right now is the best day of publicity McCain will get out of his choice.