John McCain has chosen an unlikely woman, Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, in an obvious attempt to seal the deal with disaffected Clinton supporters who feel slighted — perhaps understandably — that women were told yet again, to put their issues, their candidates, their hopes on the back burner.

Both McCain and Palin made shameless appeals to Clinton supporters (even Ralph Reed got on the radio waxing proud about women’s progress! Ralph Reed — who has never seen a pro-woman policy he tolerated!)

It’s very seductive.  Beware!

This is a woman who is coming to prominence with such feminist qualifications as beauty pageant runner-up and anti-choice politician.  McCain introduced her, immediately after noting the 88th anniversary of women’s suffrage, as a “devoted wife and a mother of five” — as if to reassure Republicans that women and their rights are still going to be valued primarily by their relationships to men (the right-wing euphemism for which is “pro-family”) and all is well in the world.

I don’t know that much about Palin yet, but assuming she agrees with McCain on most things, she will oppose equal pay and family leave measures. She will support supreme court justices like Scalia, Roberts, and Alito who put the onus on women to bring employment discrimination suits BEFORE they become aware of the discrimination!

It’s clever how the Right tries to gut the movements built around the concerns of women and minorities by promoting tokens chosen from among their ranks who favor doing the very LEAST possible to address those concerns (Clarence Thomas comes to mind).

But maybe it’s not a cynical choice. Maybe it’s progress. Palin is smart, articulate, a bit of a maverick, which is kind of exciting in the way that McCain used to be. Maybe Palin is, like Obama, a post-partisan, “new politics” American. Maybe it’s a good thing that Republicans no longer reject, at the visceral level, the idea of a female leader.

But it’s bittersweet to hear Sarah Palin give Hillary Clinton her due for putting “18 million cracks” in the highest glass ceiling.

Even if we choose to ignore the cynical political goals that this pandering is supposed to accomplish, it’s sad to think that the woman who might get a chance to finally break through that highest glass ceiling is someone who will go to work, once she rises to that rarefied position, to support policies to keep in place all the lower glass ceilings that continue to confine the rest of us.