Just when you thought the presidential campaign could not be any more ground-breaking, McCain picks his running mate. A woman! A first-term governor! Younger than Obama! Photogenic as heck! From Alaska no less!
Immediate first impression: on symbolism alone, it's an incredibily astute, bold move. For the short term at least, Sarah Palin may give a lot of women voters pause to think. And by choosing a running mate who also represents the far west of America, McCain could make western voters take notice. (You can bet the calls are coming in from state party organizations all over the Mountain and Pacific time zones, wanting Palin to visit.)
Of course, Palin's record and experience (or lack of it) will be extolled, bemoaned and generally dissected over the coming days. And by November, her appeal to female voters, especially those who are not conservative, may diminish as they learn more about her.
It's also possible that over the next two months, Americans' unvarnished values and beliefs about race and gender will show themselves in ways that aren't pretty.
But for the moment, it's hard to look at what the American political system has shown the world in recent days and not say, "Wow!"