In another surprise in an already surprising campaign season, McCain picked Alaskan governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. I haven't been paying close attention to the potential candidates, so wasn't familiar with Palin prior to the announcement today. My initial impressions are:
1) She's a woman. McCain is hoping to garner many of the voters who were supporting Hillary Clinton's bid for the presidency. It just might work. (Palin already seems to be playing well with many Hillary supporters and with Geraldine Ferraro.)
2) She's beautiful. Turns out Palin is a former beauty queen. She will make campaign posters a lot nicer to look at.
3) She's young. This will make it tough for McCain to credibly attack Obama for his lack of experience without it reflecting poorly on Palin. Her age also contrasts with McCain's experience, potentially creating some good synergy for their combined campaign. Her age could also be a liability in the same way the McCain campaign has been trying to make Obama's lack of experience an issue.
4) She's an outsider. Being governor of Alaska, Palin is an outsider to the DC establishment. This could be good for the McCain campaign as it may help distance themselves from the Republican establishment that's viewed as excessive and corrupt by many Americans. It doesn't hurt that Palin has taken on Republican politicians in her own state engaged in pork-barrel spending. On the other hand, Palin's "outsider-ness" could also make people feel uncertain about her being such an unknown, which could hurt the McCain campaign.
5) She's unexpected. The surprise pick of Palin today has focused all of the media attention and taken a lot of air out of the post-convention hype the Obama campaign was likely hoping for.
Bottom Line: Palin is a bold and risky move for the McCain campaign and one that just made this election even more interesting than it's already been.
Something remarkable about this election is that when it's all over, either a black man or a woman will have been elected for the first time in American history. This is something wonderful indeed.
P.S. -- Palin is also a mother of five and staunchly pro-life, having born a son this year after finding out he had Down syndrome. This will play very well for shoring up the evangelical and pro-life base among moral conservatives.
Below are some further thoughts on Palin from around the web:
BledarBlog called it for Palin back in June.
[McCain's] choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate is appalling and insulting to the American people. Perhaps it will turn out to be a political masterstroke, "energizing the base" and garnering lots of disaffected Clinton supporters; perhaps not. But to my mind, as a voter, the sole criterion for evaluating a candidate's VP choice is whether or not the candidate has picked someone who can plausibly be viewed as presidential timber and, no disrespect intended to Ms. Palin, who was apparently a decent mayor of Wasilla AK (pop. 9,000) and who has been serving as governor of Alaska for all of two years, McCain has failed miserably on that score.Post has more thoughts here.
In my view, Palin wouldn't have been seriously considered for vice president but for her gender. But at least she appears to be a very substantial person with real potential for high office.Tyler Cowen:
Electorally this is a very effective pick I think... though it is hard for me to imagine a President with five (young) kids.Obama, the sodgy; McCain, the maverick:
Watching Obama’s display last night I was pretty depressed. Unlike some commentators (Bill Kristol, Jay Nordlinger) I found it the most conventional imaginable speech, as if the tired ideas of a Walter Mondale were dressed in a production by Zhang Yimou.
Meanwhile, McCain has picked a woman. I don’t know enough about Sarah Palin... but John McCain has once again shown he is willing to, in fact eager to, move in a positive and (relatively) unexpected direction. He is his own man. Obama - the agent of change - picked the most conventional of the conventional. But then his speech was the same way.Speaking of walking the walking, although she opposes same-sex marriage, which they all do, Palin seems to be by far the most advanced of all four candidates on gay rights. She’s actually put them into law.
I am energized. I am a young, evangelical, conservative voter and I did not expect to be so energized by McCain's vice-presidential choice. However, Palin is a woman who has a right philosophy of life and family issues. She glows with the kind of youthful authenticity that gave the pre-Rezko Obama his appeal. She fights oil companies where it makes sense to do so but does not bow before the altar of those who forget that nature is ours to steward, not worship.Ezra Klein:
I am energized. My conservative friends who are politically savvy are energized. People unfamiliar with her who find out about her story and her political philosophy become energized. Wake up Republicans, wake up conservative evangelicals, it is a new day.
This was, for McCain, a major decision. And we can learn from it. And here's what even his supporters must admit: Country did not come first. Polls did. The calculations are fully transparent. Understanding that he needed to broaden his electoral coalition, he picked a woman. Understanding he needed youth, he picked a young politician. Understanding he needed to emphasize his reformist credentials, he picked a onetime whistleblower. What he didn't pick was anyone able to help him govern, or capable of stepping forward in a moment of crisis. Palin is not an experienced foreign policy hand like Lieberman or a successful and experienced governor like Tommy Thompson. Today, McCain chose his campaign over his presidency. Over our presidency. Palin seems like a promising young politician, but McCain increasingly seems like a desperate one.And lastly, Palin's dad:
I'd rather go moose hunting than be involved with politics.He sounds like a wise man.
Glenn Reynolds has more here and here, as does Joe Carter.
Ann Althouse shares many thoughts. Mark Bergin has a first look at Palin from a Christian perspective.
Also, a collection of Sarah Palin videos. (HT Orin Kerr)