Palin? Who’s that? Oh…Wow.

Senator John McCain pulled off a stunner pick yesterday as someone who was on NO ONE’s list to become the VP nominee. Sarah Palin 2-year governor of Alaska presents some powerful upsides, but a couple of potentially huge downsides. But there is one observation I can make about the choices of Senators Obama and McCain. In Obama’s choice of Senator Joe Biden, we saw a candidate trying to fill what voters saw as holes in his governing resume. In Senator McCain’s pick, we saw a candidate trying to fill what voters saw as holes in his political strategy. Ultimately, I don’t think voters pick a candidate based on the VP choice. But I think it’s a useful window into a candidate’s thinking.

So a few upsides of Alaska Governor Palin:

1. She sews up the base

She a gun-toting, hockey playing, anti-abortion super mom, who would drill through her own National Preserves if Uncle Sam would only let Exxon come north.  

2. She’s a woman

Sad but true, her simply being a woman gives McCain a bank shot at still-offended Hillary voters. Never mind that being a woman is basically the only thing Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin have in common, a woman she is, and it gives McCain a chance. 




3. She is media gold

Cindy McCain isn’t a very public person. You get the sense that the McCain family would rather not be in the limelight. The Obamas have dominated the so-called soft media set. An attractive female governor mother of 4 with a work-a-day husband certainly helps McCain on that front.

And now some downsides….

1. Who?

I don’t know about you but Alaska politics has never been too prominent in my mind. Governor Palin, presents a Washington Outsider to be sure, but as governor of a state with a population smaller than 1/4 of Brooklyn, her street cred isn’t necessarily high.

2. Ready to Lead?

Obama has been slammed over and over again for his lack of experience, especially on foreign policy. It was a staple of the McCain campaign. Many saw the VP choice of McCain as more important than Obama’s simply because of McCain’s age. At 72, he will be the oldest man to ever be elected to a first term. Things happen and so the VP needs to be someone that can take over at a moment’s notice. People will wonder if a two-year governor of a tiny (population-wise) state can run the country.

3. The token woman?

Ramesh Ponnuru of the National Review wrote:

Can anyone say with a straight face that Palin would have gotten picked if she were a man? 

That criticism is one you will curely never hear from team Obama. But none the less many voters are going to wonder if McCain simply found someone that hits all the right political triggers, not someone who could help run the country, or God forbid, take over the White House in an emergency. 

Bottom Line: It’s a risky and bold pick from the Maverick.


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