I was traveling for most of the day yesterday so I didn’t have much of a chance to write anything about John McCain’s selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. Sitting in the car I did get a chance to listen to talk radio, something I don’t usually do.
So, what do I think? Overall, I think its potentially good a pick. Personally, I would rather have seen Lieberman but I understand how that was untenable with the Republican base. Romney was the wrong choice. He could have gone with an outsider like Whitman or Fiorina, but they probably had their drawbacks too. Overall, I just liked the pick, even if they’re some significant problems with it.
The downside risk of the Palin choice of course is experience. A one term governor, no matter how high the approval ratings or how well she was doing her job, is not exactly the best training for the most important job in the world.
Palin’s inexperience is a double whammy for the McCain Campaign. Not only does it play into the “McCain is Old” theme, it also minimizes the most powerful attack that McCain had been using against Obama.
Don’t get me wrong, I still think that the McCain Campaign is going to go hard on “inexperience.” I suspect that on the experience issue they would be willing to slug it out with Obama. Willng to bet that if both campaigns start throwing the “inexperienced” punches, the more powerful blows will be landed by the McCain campaign.
Palin is after all only the VP candidate. Either people are worried that McCain is going to die in office or they are not. My gut feeling is that the age issue is a red herring for most people. Its an item on a laundry list to explain why they are voting against him, but not really an important reason. More rationalization than reason.
The difficulty for Palin is that unlike Obama the country has not spent the last two years getting to know her. Obama has more experience than Palin. Neither of them really have enough experience. But people know far more about Obama. Over the last two years I’ve seen enough from Obama to alleviate most of my concerns about his inexperience. I still wonder about him of course, but there is no doubt that he is an extremely intelligent person who will surround himself with a gaggle of advisors.
I guess what I’m saying is that the experience issue isn’t so much about experience as it is about comfort level. I’ve learned enough about Obama to formulate an opinion that his inexperience really won’t be an issue. Obama had several years to work his way into my heart and mind.
Palin only has 67 days.
With that said, what are Palin’s pros?
Energy, part 1: One thing that I learned while listening to the talk-radio set yesterday is that the Palin pick was a homerun with conservatives. Rush was nothing if not enthused. Most of his callers were foaming at the mouth, expressing support for McCain for the first time and saying things like, “I’m proud to be a Republican for the first time in years.”
She’s a Woman: The fact that Palin is the first woman Republican VP candidate is going to get some votes. How many I don’t hazard to guess. In a close election however, every vote counts.
Energy, part 2: Palin is going to be really strong on the energy issue. Again, I’ve only seen her a bit, but she comes across as a powerful advocate of using Alaska’s resources as part of a comprehensive plan to transition over decades to other fuels. She seems like she’ll be a forceful advocate of McCain’s “a little bit of everything” energy plan.
Maverick Needs a Wingman: The pundits that I’ve heard seem to think that the pick of Palin means that McCain is going to make this election about his kind of reform. Palin seems to be a hard-driving reformer in the McCain mode. Her personal responsibility at stopping the Bridge to Nowhere will resonate with a lot of people.
In the end, I guess, I’m going to have to reserve judgment.