Hard to say the last time I linked the NY Times, but I believe that David Brooks makes an important point regarding McCain and Palin, althoug I do disagree a bit on his summation. (HT: RCP) I think Brooks may the paper's token conservative/moderate columnist - in other words, the only adult on staff.
McCain is not a true conservative Republican, he is a moderate, and while he usually toes the traditional party line (I think his ACU rating is around 85) he seems determined to go his own way at times, and Brooks does a nice job of identifying the crux of the McCain's Teddy Roosevelt worldview.
"The main axis in McCain’s worldview is not left-right. It’s public service versus narrow self-interest. Throughout his career, he has been drawn to those crusades that enabled him to launch frontal attacks on the concentrated powers of selfishness — whether it was the big money donors who exploited the loose campaign finance system, the earmark specialists in Congress like Alaska’s Don Young and Ted Stevens, the corrupt Pentagon contractors or Jack Abramoff."
Palin, like McCain, is a political reformer and it now seems obvious that she would appeal to McCain's instincts. He simply picked the only potential VP pick that was like himself. The fact she is female and relatively young were merely bonuses, although ones that are likely to have a major impact on the race.
Brooks worries that such a moralistic worldview doesn't work in every situation, particularly on issues that are complex and require compromises. While McCain has forged such compromises (and infuriated many Republicans when he has done so) Brooks worries that McCain's lack of fundamental political philosophy on the scope and purpose of government may hinder his effectiveness.
Brooks loses me at this point, stating there aren't enough Republican experts to staff the new administration (Huh?) and thus McCain will have to turn to Democrats and independents, significant Democratic opposition in Congress, and his own free wheeling ways when it comes to those issues that aren't moral crusades. Brooks then appears to imply that McCain should have picked someone well versed in guiding items through the Washington establishment, someone who covers for McCain's weaknesses. But the job Brooks poutlines isn't necessarily the job of the number two, it is more in the job description of the White House Chief of Staff, which would be a great spot for one of the names he floated, Rob Portman.
Still a very interesting column, especially considering the source, and remarkably balanced.