Friday, August 29, 2008

Missed By A Mile

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin

Executing one of the biggest/best political "head fakes" in memory by not picking a "potential" from among the usual suspects -- and doing the previously unbelievable...stealing the headlines from Obama's big speech last night -- John McCain named Alaska's governor Sarah Palin as his running mate.

First reaction among many -- including me, a big Palin fan -- was that picking a relatively unknown person from a distant state (with just three Electoral College votes and already solidly Republican) was a mistake.

Alaska...nuf said.

But upon further reflection, this move by Team McCain might just be one of the better political moves in recent memory.

Yes, she's only been in office about two years (but Obama's relative inexperience hasn't appeared to nick into his lovefest); she's not familiar with day-to-day doings in DC; and she has little to no foreign policy experience...but she does balance McCain in some areas or add to the GOP's positions in others: she's sure to energize female Republicans and might even lure away some of Hillary Clinton's disaffected supporters; Palin, who has been out in front on energy issues, strengthens McCain's standing on related issues and might even give him an opportunity to backtrack on his earlier insistences on not wanting to drill in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR); her strong, outspoken pro-life stance and lifelong membership in the NRA are also likely to cement key blocs within the GOP who, always uncomfortable with McCain, are now about to come back on board.

The undeniable beauty of ANWR?

My original reaction, based on having listened to her speeches and meeting the governor in DC in February, was that a toe-to-toe battle with Dem VP candidate Joe Biden would be problematic for her. But listening to her give a speech in Dayton, Ohio, with McCain today leaves me feeling otherwise. He'll be a tough opponent in a debate, but he'll have to be careful not to be seen as bullying/beating up a woman. Biden, given to long-winded harangues, won't have it as easy as some think. (HT: RyWright)

Palin at the DC speech (Feb. 26.).
Photo: Goodman/Van Riper Photography.

So the press, pundits and pols begin the long march this weekend to Minnesota, having decamped from Denver last night thinking they had experienced The Second Coming. Now they're scrambling to recover, recalibrate and recalculate. Obama's bright, shining moment has been reduced to just that: a moment. The new mega-point headline, PALIN CHOSEN, doesn't erase the great historical moment America experienced last night...taking one more step toward a more perfect union...but it eclipsed the politics of the moment.

Extra: Let's get an over-under pool going on the day of Hurricane Gustav's possible arrival along the Gulf Coast next week. Already, plans are being made for President Bush and Vice President Cheney to cancel their speeches at the convention so they can attend to the likely crises. Speaking cynically, this is not a bad thing for the GOP (unless you're a Republican from the Gulf Coast). There is no way a sitting president can be excluded from speaking at a party's convention -- it would draw more attention than if he/she appeared. But the popularity ratings-challenged George W. Bush presents a "problem" for McCain: the more they are seen/put together, the harder it is for McCain. If Bush is called away and forced to cancel, it not only keeps McCain safe from side-by-side photos with the president, but it shows -- along with the possible move to stay home and handle things by Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (both GOPers) -- that in times of hardship Republicans would rather attend to important matters rather than going for the photo op.

Hurricane Gustav: how hard will it hit
Gulf Coast? Will it change the GOP
schedule of speakers? And
who is going to clean
up all the paint
someone has spilled on
this map?
(Credit: NASA/JPL)

No comments: