Well, here we go. All the blogosphere is a-buzz, along with the usual suspects in the media. Around 10:00 am EST, it leaked that John McCain had selected Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his Vice Presidential running mate. A virtual unknown in the political arena, Palin is very much known in her home state as a tough defender of ethics and political reform. And oh by the way, she’s staunchly pro-life. John McCain, the self-styled maverick, has chosen a maverick to be by his side. Or at least, that’s the image the GOP will want to present.
Much of the media seems to have been blind sided by the selection of Palin. As a result, the McCain camp is now being credited for masterful “headfakes” in the selection of a VP. This has essentially served to retake the spotlight from Obama, who was enjoying a nice boost in the wake of a largely successful Democratic National Convention. In my opinion, this was a brilliant move by McCain and the GOP. There really is no downside to the selection of Palin for VP, as Jack Kelly points out (h/t Thomas @ AmP). At first I was concerned about Palin’s utter lack of experience, but as several blog commentators have pointed out, the last thing Obama wants to talk about is inexperience. I suspect, this will eventually serve to neutralize the inexperience of Obama charge by McCain. The Obama camp is already pointing out Palin’s lack of experience, but I take this to be a “well she’s inexperienced too” payback for John McCain’s constant accusations of inexperience towards Obama. It’s a charge by the Democrats that shouldn’t stick. The Democrats have an inexperienced candidate for the Presidency. The GOP has an inexperienced candidate for the Vice-Presidency. I don’t think it’s a path the Obama camp will want to go down for very long, but we shall see.
Clearly, McCain will own the “maverick” and the “I will shake up Washington” image. Obama has tried that tactic for well over a year now with his message of “change”, but compared to a McCain-Palin ticket, Obama-Biden looks awfuly pedestrian and par for the course. Obama will now need to adjust his image. Certainly, he will never stop with his message of change and “yes we can” – it’s his schtick – but if he continues to rely solely on that image, the Democratic Party will blow another election. I still can’t believe they blew it in 2004.
As for Palin, here’s what she had to say as she accepted the offer to join McCain on the GOP ticket:
Well, with just a couple of months until the election this race will be interesting to watch. With the Republican National Convention starting on Monday, the country will get to know Palin as the week rolls on. She’s an interesting – and brilliant – pick no matter how you slice it. She brings in the pro-lifers who are (rightly) suspect of John McCain. She adds tremendous credibility to his image as a maverick. Her inexperience won’t hurt as much as it normally would given Obama’s lack of the same. She’s reportedly quick on her feet, and tenacious when challenged – the VP debate will be oh so fun! She has the potential to bring in a significant amount of women voters who are undecided. And this will serve to undermine the accusation that McCain is sexist. She has a son who is headed to Iraq, and a very compelling personal story overall. She comes across as a very devoted mother of five children and wife, as you can see in the video and will read in numerous accounts of her life. The image of wife and mother is something Hillary was never able to pull off – if she was trying to pull it off at all. Also by selecting a woman for VP, the GOP has stolen the thunder from the “historic” nature of the Obama bid for the Presidency. I don’t see much down-side here for McCain.
And no, I am not a Republican – or a Democrat for that matter. But as Presidential politics go, this is pretty exciting no matter what your political leanings. Watch the Catholic and Pro-Life blogs in the coming days. The conversation is sure to be very interesting and enthusiastic.
As always head over to the American Papist blog for the latest on this story and more. Thomas Peters is always on top of it, and one of the best sources for news and current events from a Catholic perspective. I will gladly let him follow this story from here on out.