The choice of Sarah Palin by John McCain was a political masterstroke. Here are five reasons why. 1) Obama, with his "change" mantra, had positioned himself prior to the Convention as a "post-partisan" outsider who is going to change Washington. That's his schtick. It is the only real raison d'etre for his candidacy, because he lacks a signature issue or a track record of experience on major policy questions. It's the whole "we are the change we've been waiting for" thing. And it has worked pretty well for him so far -- or at least until this past week. 2). Obama's choice of Joe Biden and his extremely partisan acceptance speech showed clearly that the "emperor of change" isn't wearing any clothes: he's actually become a standard liberal Democrat running what will be now a highly partisan campaign. It will now be mud-slinging, personal and very populist. Michelle Obama's role at the Convention was to cast the Obama family as a "up-from-the-bootstraps" success story -- a middle class family. It goes perfectly with Biden's story, and it is prep for a John Edwards-style "two Americas" campaign based on liberal, populist rhetoric. Obama was the #1 most liberal Senator in the U.S. Senate and Biden was #3. Not much "post-partisan" in that.
3). McCain is the real change agent in this campaign -- and always has been. He's been consistently against the Washington establishment, and has confounded the Republican party and the Bush administration in many areas. A McCain presidency would most certainly NOT be an extension of the Bush years.
4). Palin is the perfect complement to the McCain maverick narrative. She's been a reformer in Alaska and has a record of accomplishment that has included going against the entrenched interests of other Republican power-brokers. She told the Federal government that they could keep the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere" and has been an anti-earmark hawk. She is a real change agent. She hasn't just talked about it like Obama -- she's done it.
5). Palin will appeal immediately to many women who supported Hillary Clinton -- and the more that Obama and Biden try to bully her as not being "up to the job" the more they will run the risk of alienating women. The Obama campaign will have to tread lightly, though I don't think they will be able to -- for their arrogance and anger is just too great.
I expect that Palin will be in for a rough ride -- but if she can establish herself in the eyes of America as a credible leader, she will provide a great contrast to the pompous Biden. It was a great choice -- worthy of the gambler that is John McCain.
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It will be interesting to watch the feminists get tied in knots over the Palin selection. It seems on its face pretty simple: Two parties, three men, one woman. The Republicans have the woman -- so you would think that the feminists would support Palin as a matter of principle: only the second opportunity in history for a woman to become Vice President.
Don't hold your breath on that: the feminists have proven before that liberal orthodoxy is more important than gender. So the fact that Palin is pro-life will automatically disqualify her as being the "right" kind of woman for the feminists, who only support those who hew to a strict ideological agenda. It is much like George Bush not getting any credit for having a black woman as Secretary of State; because Condi Rice is on the wrong side of their issues, she simply doesn't count. The same will happen with Palin -- and it further proves that the Democrats have a very small tent, indeed.
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Did you hear that Barack Obama's first reaction to the Palin nomination was to question her experience? Isn't that rich? Does Obama really want to have that discussion? The Democrats' new narrative is that the Palin selection takes the issue of experience "off the table". Oh, really? Let's see: Palin was mayor of a small town in Alaska and then governor of the state for 2 years -- a chief executive role where she was responsible for working with the legislature on economic, budget and energy issues. She reigned in pork spending, challenged "big oil" and took on a culture of corruption. Her record in Alaska is full of accomplishment for such a short period -- she definitely has much to show for her time in office. She's also got a great personal story.
And what about our Obama? Well, let's see...eight years in the Illinois State legislature and then four years in the U.S. Senate -- a legislative role where you don't command anything larger than your senate staff. In those four years he has sponsored no legislation, and though he Chairs the Foreign Affairs sub-commitee on Europe (which oversees NATO and thus Afghanistan), he never held a hearing. Not one. Obama started running for president after just 18 months in the Senate, of course, so he really has been a Senator for a scant two years or so. His tenure in the Illinois State Senate was marked by a huge number of "present" votes on major issues -- 130 times according to the NY Times. Voting "present" means abstaining -- essentially taking no stand. According to the Times, many of these were on sensitive or critical issues. That's what Obama calls leadership?
In any event, the race is really between Obama and McCain -- not Obama and Palin. And that race isn't even close on the question of experience.