The first time I saw a picture of Sarah Palin, I must admit I thought it was an ad for eyeglasses! (and I am not making this up). I read that she a was a former Alaska state beauty pageant queen (No offense to Sarah Palin, but here is an example of an American beauty, Miss Teen USA from South Carolina).
Selecting Sarah Palin as his running mate served as a tactical move to counter the media waves being generated by Senator Obama’s impressive acceptance speech last night which was watched by a record 40M people. You clearly have to do something out of the ordinary to counter that kind of media coverage. Senator McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin certainly achieved this purpose. The former beauty queen tipped the media coverage in her favor despite the historic nature and fanfare following the first ever African American candidate’s acceptance of a major parties’ nomination. A case of short term Mission Accomplished for the McCain campaign.
Sarah Palin’s name was hardly mentioned as a likely pick by any of the visible right wing pundits (though there has been an active campaign on the net). Names of Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, Bobby Jindal and others were being thrown around for the most part, though the same pundits are racing to fall in love with Ms. Palin now. Senator McCain has helped revive some of his fast-fading maverick image of yester-years with this pick.
Selecting Sarah Palin also appears to be a calculated move to reach out to the Hillary voters. However, it remains to be seen if any of the 18M Hillary voters actually end up voting for the McCain ticket just because of Sarah Palin. Most women Democrats are unlikely to find anything in common with Ms. Palin’s position on issues provided they are willing to look beyond the gender criteria. But again, you are talking of white working class, high school educated women from the mid-western swing states.
Senator McCain has plenty of negatives to deal with from his Veep pick. First and foremost, the whole issue of experience — his opponent Senator Obama’s weakest point — At 72, with age and good health not on his side, and Sarah Palin as his VP running mate, Senator McCain can’t credibly attack his opponent for lack of experience. In fact, one could argue that he has put himself first (and didn’t show good judgment) and not his “country first” by placing a relative newbie one-step away from the Presidency while crying himself hoarse that we are living in the most dangerous of times.
The basic GOP advantage of supposedly being stronger on defense has been completely squandered by this selection. In fact, even the most hardcore right wing conservatives are bound to cringe at the thought of Sarah Palin at the helm of affairs were something to happen to President McCain. (One of the geniuses on Fox was suggesting that Sarah Palin had foreign policy experience because Alaska was close to Russia!)
It remains to be seen how things play out over the next several weeks before the polls.
“She’s not bad looking. She looks like one of those women in the Van Halen videos who takes off her glasses, shakes out her hair, and then all of a sudden, she’s in high heels and a bikini. All of a sudden, I am FOR drilling in Alaska.” –Jimmy Kimmel
Sarah Palin could charm her way to the vice-presidency. Biden might end up appearing mean in the debate with Ms. Palin and could spark of a backlash. Obama could have more Saddleback moments in the upcoming debates. The left wingers could go overboard in their criticism of Palin and it might backfire on the Democrats. Any number of things could happen in a country where Dan Quayle became Vice-Presdent and George Bush got elected twice. Time will tell if McCain took a smart bet or landed himself in a pickle with his Veep pick.