I have been thinking about the strategic implications of Obama's having selected Biden on McCain's VP pick. And I keep thinking that instead of Mitt Romney, whom I had thought was the most logical choice (based on his executive experience in and out of government, his ability to help keep Colorado in our column, and perhaps his ability to tip Michigan), Sarah Palin emerges as the choice. Here are my reasons:
I think she represents an opportunity to change the playing field from one in which careful considerations of geography and the electoral map yield to a larger opportunity to tap into the electorate across the nation. Given that the polls are close, I hope that McCain does not feel that he has to agonize over which electoral votes are more likely to come his way by his choice of running mate. I really think that it's game, set, and match if he picks her.
- She makes it difficult for Biden to play the role of attack dog. He is already hamstrung in attacking McCain by his on-the-record encomiums to his pal John. But with his outsized ego and no-"off"-setting mouth, he will have to go somewhere, and if he attacks a woman, he risks looking like an ill-mannered bully.
- She puts the women's vote into play. I understand that she is (in the popular imagination of the MSM, at least) to the women's vote as conservative black candidates are to blacks more generally (i.e., not "authentic"). However, for all the disaffected Hillary Harridans out there, as well as just relatively normal women who would like to see a woman at the head of the ticket (thinking ahead to 2012/2016) and a heartbeat away from the presidency, I think she will garner a lot of "in the privacy of the voting booth" support.
- She represents conservatism as a reformist with a record of achievement. Bush's "compassionate conservatism" was marketing of his big government instincts with his respect for conservative governance (as embodied by such as Ronald Reagan), in an attempt to make it palatable to more centrist voters. Palin's reform conservatism is not a gimmick and it's not marketing; she took on the worst of her own party in her home state without abandoning her principles (in fact, she stood by them when many, I suspect, would not have), and succeeded substantively on the issues and politically with the voters.
- She is fresh, new, and has a compelling story, both personally and professionally. I think she will suck a lot of the media oxygen out of the Obama hype (McCain's recent ads have already put the MSM and the Obamaniacs on the defensive when it comes to the worshipful excesses they have oft displayed), as they will have to tell her story. Okay, they won't have to, but people will demand that they do.
And this is coming from someone who was high on Kasich and Cantor for their conservative cred, and Romney for his business acumen and electoral considerations. I was sour on Ridge, Lieberman, and a lot of the other names that have been floated (I keep the mailing from the McCain campaign with the bumper sticker in the trunk of my car, waiting for the day I can happily affix it to the bumper; that day won't come until I see his VP pick).
PS: The McCain bumper sticker is now on the car!