"The impulsive, unvetted selection of a total unknown, with no knowledge of or interest in the wider world, as a replacement president remains one of the most disturbing events in modern American history. That the press felt required to maintain a facade of normalcy for two months -- and not to declare the whole thing a farce from start to finish -- is a sign of their total loss of nerve."
One of the most irritating tactics of the Republicans, ever since at least Reagan, is trying to come off as being for the "common man", when in fact they are and have always been a party of, and for, the wealthy ("not that this is anything wrong with that..."). Toward that goal, they have succeeded in placing figure heads that appeal to the working class. With Reagan, they found, quite appropriately, an actor. This was a landmark in politics, a milestone representative of the culmination of the video age. Bush Sr. was an aberration for the Republicans, a result of the inconvenient settlement of the Republican primary in 1980 which resulted in Bush being picked as vice-president.
Not quite willing, perhaps out of incredulity, to pick a true "common man", the Republicans found in Bush Jr. a man of their social class that, due to his dimness, actually fit the role of the "common man" quite well. His lack of qualifications pushed the limits of the public, no, the press, even more. The envelope had been pushed and tested: yes, the press would let such a character pass their inspection.
With Palin, we had a run in with pushing that envelope even further. And I supposed in 2012 we'll see if the Republicans continue with that tactic or whether a new age is truly borne.