There are so many things to admire about John McCain.
His service during Vietnam, his courage as a prisoner of war, his maverick nature in the hidebound U.S. Senate and, currently, his role as the only grown-up in the Republican Party.
But I don't think I will ever be able to forgive him for Sarah Palin.
His decision to pluck her out of Alaskan obscurity and put her on the presidential ticket in 2008 unleashed a genie that yaks incessantly, makes no sense and refuses to get back in the bottle. Think Robin Williams in "Aladdin," only not funny.
Mrs. Palin is at it again, making the rounds of the talk shows and hawking a new book, "Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas," in which she comes embarrassingly late to the "war on Christmas."
And she is doing that thing she does, laying down hints that she might run for an Alaska Senate seat or maybe even enter the 2016 presidential race. She did this in 2012. She drives up her name recognition — and speech fees and book sales — but never actually runs. It is possible even she knows she would lose.
The "Today" show was one of her first stops, and poor Matt Lauer was powerless to stop her freight train of political free associations and disconnected slogans. She went from the Keystone pipeline to Benghazi to Syria in 3.5 seconds. Megyn Kelly on Fox News actually pleaded with her for a chance to ask a question.
She was in Iowa earlier this month — she is always teasing the Republican base with trips to Iowa — speaking at the Faith and Freedom Coalition during which she compared the national debt to "slavery." I know, you thought the Affordable Care Act was slavery, but Mrs. Palin says when the Chinese call for repayment of all the paper they are holding for us, we are going to "beholden to a foreign master."
China actually only holds about 10 percent of our $12 trillion national debt, just a tick ahead of Japan, points out Glenn Kessler of The Washington Post, and a third of it is held not by governments but by private investors. But Mrs. Palin can be terrifying when she gets revved up. She also talked of lifting poor people "out of the shackles of dependence on government."
In the last month she has also accused the president of having committed "impeachable offenses" with regard to the debt ceiling and declared that he is running a "dictatorship."
But it is the rambling that gets to me. She starts with an idea and defies you to guess where she is going with it.
"Let's commit to continue to be in the trenches fighting for those who stand on principle over politics despite the odds," she said in threatening Senate incumbents with tea party primary opponents in a Facebook post.
"Let's start with Kentucky, which happens to be awfully close to South Carolina, Tennessee and Mississippi — from sea to shining sea." You could get whiplash.
On the matter of Christmas. "Enough is enough of this politically correct police out there that is acting to erode our freedom to celebrate and exercise our faith," she told her Iowa audience. She is planning a 15-city book tour heavy on dates at military bases and in small town Texas and Florida. No stops in New York, Chicago or Los Angeles.
She would like us all to be free to invoke Jesus Christ in public displays, school concerts, pageants and expressions to each other. She rails against "angry atheists with lawyers" and includes a recipe for moose chili in the book.
Mrs. Palin is coy about her political future, saying she doesn't need a title to do her work. And her endorsements do seem to have some magical powers.
But I think this is all about cash, not change. Mrs. Palin continues to grab the microphone and wring ever more money out of John McCain's poor decision to place her on the national stage in the first place.
Susan Reimer's column appears on Mondays and Thursdays. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and @SusanReimer on Twitter.com.To respond to this commentary, send an email to email@example.com. Please include your name and contact information.