Does "Hazardous" Palin Pick Undercut McCain's Case Against Obama?

Even before "baby-gate" broke, the Times questioned the "conservative" Palin pick.

Before "baby-gate" broke on Monday, the Times' coverage of Sarah Plain had some light labeling drizzle, with Palin accurately termed a "conservative" or "social conservative" in front-page stories on Sunday by Adam Nagourney and Jackie Calmes. By contrast, the Times never characterized either Barack Obama or Joe Biden as liberal during the Democratic National Convention.

In the lead story for the Sunday Week in Review, section editor Sam Tanenhaus called her a "Christian conservative" in a story that also found John McCain's campaign tactics "dismaying": "He insists his will be a high-minded campaign, then recruits Karl Rove's SWAT team."

Saturday front-page "news analysis" by Peter Baker, "A Bold Move, With Risks," opened with a gut punch suggesting the Palin choice had undermined McCain's viability:

Senator John McCain spent the summer arguing that a 40-something candidate with four years in major office and no significant foreign policy experience was not ready to be president.

And then on Friday he picked as his running mate a 40-something candidate with two years in major office and no significant foreign policy experience.

The selection of Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska proved quintessentially McCain - daring, hazardous and defiantly off-message. He demonstrated that he would not get boxed in by convention as he sought to put a woman next in line to the presidency for the first time. Yet in making such an unabashed bid for supporters of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, he risked undercutting his central case against Senator Barack Obama.