I believe both Harriett Miers and Sarah Palin were horrible choices. However, the former was a one dimensional affair: despite the politicking, it was largely about her competence regarding the position she was to be nominated for: Supreme Court justice, which is still a big deal, and requires a level of intellect and knowledge of the law Miers does not possess. (One may disagree w/the opinions and/or politics of the justices, but it’s pretty much accepted there are no dummies on that bench.) While the leaders were not having it, her party’s base—and, actually, most of the public—showed little interest in her nomination to the Court, and arguably, much less was at stake with her choice. So it died.
The latter was a political move designed to rally the support of a sector of the party largely indifferent to John McCain—if you recall, during the 10-candidate primary, 60% of the GOP base did not like ANY of the aspiring candidates—particularly the Christian Right, to which Palin belongs. (Think about it: if McCain were to die in office we’d have an unqualified, born-again zealot leading the nation. But more importantly to the Christian Right, one of THEIR own. Again. Of course they’re psyched.) And, let’s not forget, the possibility of wooing disgruntled HRC supporters was also on the list.
So while on a governing level they are both deplorable choices, the Palin selection was beneficial to McCain on a political level. It wasn’t his choice for VP—he wanted Joe Lieberman—but it was a savvy political move, nonetheless. It also summarily trounces the “Country First” meme, but why let truth and accuracy get in the way of winning a campaign for the presidency?