That’s an expression I learned from from British friends, derived from the pointless infantry charges of trench warfare in World War One; it refers to losing all sense of proportion and grossly overreacting.
If you look past the third trench, you’ll see the Washington Post’s Richard Cohen vanishing into the distance. Here’s what he has to say about John McCain for his pick of Governor Sarah Palin:
What impressed me most about McCain was the effect he had on his audiences, particularly young people. When he talked about service to a cause greater than oneself, he struck a chord. He expressed his message in words, but he packaged it in the McCain story — that man, beaten to a pulp, who chose honor over freedom. This had nothing to do with access. It had to do with integrity.
McCain has soiled all that. His opportunistic and irresponsible choice of Sarah Palin as his political heir — the person in whose hands he would leave the country — is a form of personal treason, a betrayal of all he once stood for. Palin, no matter what her other attributes, is shockingly unprepared to become president. McCain knows that. He means to win, which is all right; he means to win at all costs, which is not.
OK, Richard. Put down the venti latte (with double espresso shot) and take a deep breath. "Personal treason?" You’re being a wee bit hyperbolic here, not to mention factually wrong.
Let’s just briefly review Palin’s qualifications: She’s been in politics for roughly 16 years, serving two terms on the Wasilla city council, two terms as its mayor (an executive mayor, not a ceremonial post), she’s chaired the Alaska Oil and Gas Commission, and she’s served two years as Alaska’s governor, managing an $11 billion budget (PDF) and supervising more than 24,000 state employees. She’s butted heads with her own party to clean up corruption. She is also commander of her state’s National Guard, which ain’t chopped liver. She’s running for Vice-President, the number two spot on her party’s ticket.
Barack Obama, on the other hand, is running for President, the number one spot on his party’s ticket. Over his career he’s been a lawyer, a community organizer, a director of the Woods Fund and chairman of the board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. He was a state senator for seven years (voting "present" 130 times) and became a US Senator in 2004. He has been a "party man" since the day he entered politics. For the last two years, he’s been running for president.
Tell me again who is "shockingly unprepared to become president?" The person with several years’ executive experience and intimate familiarity with our nation’s energy needs who’s running for VP, or The One with no executive experience whatsoever (and who told us we could save oil by keeping our tires inflated), but who wants the top job starting January 20th, 2009? You can ask that question with a straight face?
Far from engaging in "personal treason," Senator McCain found someone who neatly fit his own principles of how government should be run. I think he’s very comfortable with the idea of Sarah Palin taking over from him when the time comes. That she appeals to core constituencies McCain needs to get elected was surely among his reasons, but just as surely not the only one.
I’ve generally liked Richard Cohen’s columns, even when I’ve disagreed with him. A dyed-in-the-wool left-liberal, he can still make reasonable arguments. But here, I think, he’s revealed for all to see that he’s fallen victim to the dread RDS — "Republican Derangement Syndrome."
Don’t be afraid Richard; we’re here to help.