Saving the GOP and The Unbearable Lightness of Being Sarah Palin

Minneapolis-St. Paul -- Even without George Bush in the Twin Cities, the GOP cannot escape its miserable record over the last eight years. (Indeed, trying to spot a recognizable Republican in town has become a favorite early-convention game.)

So you can see why Sarah Palin was such an appealing pick for John McCain. Along with all the things she brings to the table -- fresh face, mother of five, hockey mom -- Palin is notable for what she doesn't bring: a track record.

If McCain had picked any of the far more experienced candidates on his short list, they would have come fully equipped with a long paper trail implicating them in the horror show that is the Republican Party of the last eight years.

Palin has barely left a footprint on the GOP scene. And the McCain camp immediately scrubbed one of the few marks -- an ad on her campaign website featuring an endorsement from newly indicted Alaska Senator Ted Stevens.

So with a party brand as damaged as the GOP's is right now, lack of experience isn't a bug, it's a feature.

On HuffPost today, Bob Borosage is asking a question that all of us who value at least a a two-party system (and I would definitely prefer more than two) are wondering: How can we salvage the Republican Party?

Having a vice presidential nominee with no paper trail is a good campaign ploy, but the full-scale overhaul needed cannot be accomplished with Palin's antediluvian beliefs.

As Borosage writes, "on issue after issue -- from the Iraq War to Katrina, from contraception to consumer protection, from health care to fair trade -- a growing majority of Americans are abandoning the Republican position. The new center is progressive, not conservative."

McCain doesn't just need someone with a fresh face; he desperately needs someone with fresh ideas. That would have been the real maverick choice.

Instead, he's got someone who, in perfect agreement with the Republican platform, believes abortion should be illegal even in cases of rape or incest or to save the life of the mother.

He's got someone who, in defiance of science, doesn't believe global warming is man-made.

He's got someone who, in defiance of science, wants creationism taught in schools.

The Republican Party isn't in dire electoral straits because Middle America loves these ideas but just wants to see them implemented by a woman.

The Republican Party is in dire electoral straits because its ideas are outside the mainstream. And in choosing Sarah Palin, McCain has moved his ticket even further from the center of the country. Yes, she energizes the GOP base -- a fact that should scare the hell out of any Republican who cares about the future of the party.

The problem with today's GOP isn't the packaging; it's the product.

So read Borosage's post and let us know what you think the Republican Party should be doing to save itself. Electing McCain/Palin clearly is not the answer. What do you think the answer is?