When news broke that Sarah Palin was McCain's VP pick, I was bombarded by my friends (they're just about all Democrats) for information..."who is she?", "why'd he pick her?", "Biden is going to kill her in the debates!"...and "what do you think about Palin?"
Here's my first take...
For starters, let me say that I've greatly enjoyed these last two nights of the Democratic Convention. Don't get me wrong, I liked Michelle's speech and Hillary did a good job of rounding out her campaign - "No way. No More. No McCain" (she left out the last one, "No Hillary in the White House."), but I didn't really get into the convention until Bill and Biden spoke up on Wednesday. For the first time, they provided a more definitive statement on why Obama, and not McCain, needs to be the next U.S. President.
Bill said, "Clearly, the job of the next president is to rebuild the American Dream and restore America's standing in the world" and you had to believe him. He then said, Obama "will work for an America with more partners and fewer adversaries"...again, you have to believe him. Then he topped it off with, "America can do better than that (Bush Administration). And Barack Obama will. But first we have to elect him." Overall strong Bill performance.
Then, after a winning introduction by his son and Delaware AG Beau Biden, Senator Joe (I like calling him that) stood up and emphatically said McCain represents much of the same in a time where change is needed..."that's not change, that's the same" he repeated with audience support. But Biden's best line was even simpler and more frank in saying that America "needs more than a good soldier. It needs a wise leader." It remains to be seen if he was saying that the inexperienced Obama is more wise than he is smart.
By the time Obama came out in a *surprise* visit at the end of Biden's speech, I honestly had tears building up in my eyes because the junior Senator from Illinois not only looked presidential, he looked like our next president. Regardless of which way I vote, that night looked much more like a November night than a convention night.
But back to Palin...
Truth is, I am still on that 51-49 line about who to vote for and McCain's VP pick has been keeping me up at night. If he went with Romney (a man I feel is better suited for the board room than the town hall), I probably would have flip-flopped. If he had gone with former PA Governor and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge or Independent Senator Joe Lieberman I would have been even more certain than I already am that Obama would win in November. If he went with Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, I would have been both happy and disappointed because I think she's a really good Republican Senator in a time when Democrats are about to win more seats in that chamber and she's a near-shoe-in to be the next Governor of Texas.
So now that leaves me, and us, with Sarah Palin...a two-year Governor of Alaska who has a very interesting rise to the nomination...
She was runner-up in the Miss Alaska Pageant in '84.
She was a sports reporter.
She served as a city council member and then mayor for six years.
She's a supporter of drilling in ANWR and ethics reform and less pork-barrel spending like McCain.
She has a son in the Army and another with Down Syndrome.
But beyond those facts...here's what we can gather about why McCain picked her:
She's young and attractive. Helps make McCain look younger and Biden look older.
She's from a small state. Helps with those lower-class, small-town voters.
She's a female. Helps wedge Hillary's poor supporters with Obama's wealthy ones.
She's new. Helps fight Obama's argument that we need change since he picked Biden.
She's a mother. Her oldest and youngest sons, one in the Army, one with Down Syndrome, will make for a unique and touching convention speech.
She's a gamer. Anyone who covered sports has a competitive spirit so you can't be certain she's going to completely back down to Biden in debates.
That's pretty much all I have to say until we hear more about and from her next week in Minneapolis. Until then, I recommend taking a wait-and-see approach, as am I, about her candidacy. In the meantime, read the post by RealClearPolitics' Jay Cost for another good take on the pick.