This is an interesting choice for vice president. The few Clinton defectors for McCain I’ve seen briefly interviewed (I have never actually met one) say that they cannot vote for Obama because of his lack of experience. This harkens back to a Clinton speech in which she said that McCain would be better able to serve as commander in chief than Obama.
McCain selects a woman who is two years out of Wasilla, serving as its mayor, and who is younger than Obama. This suggests to me that he believes that he can forge a majority with Bush’s Republican far right wing base and women who would have voted for Hillary and just want a woman (other than as First Lady) in the White House, regardless of her policies.
Geraldine Ferraro’s presence on the ticket with Mondale did not bring independents into the fold, nor did it keep Democrats from voting for Reagan. McCain is hoping that a woman on his ticket will attract that same group (although the Reagan Democrats tended to be male but then again Ms. Palin’s bathing beauty background might appeal to this group). It seems like a lunge at the Clinton supporters who said they would not vote for Obama.
What is interesting is that this undercuts the rationale for switching parties presented by this group. If experience is really the critical factor in their vote (which seems preposterous to me), then why would you want Wasilla’s mayor of two years ago “one heart beat away” from the nuclear button.
This choice puts McCain’s age to the forefront as an election issue, something that McCain wants to downplay. How can the oldest first term candidate in the history of our country running with a 44 year old governor of two years, question the qualifications of the Democratic ticket to govern? While Obama was pursuing public interest work in New York and Chicago before law school, Ms. Palin was being crowned Miss Wasilla and later runner up Miss Alaska.
This suggests to me that McCain does not believe that the election will be determined by policy decisions or substance so much as impressions and psychological associations. I hope that I’m wrong, but it does not in my mind augur well for the kind of principled, high minded campaign that Obama called for.
At least some Alaskans are amused by this choice. Remarkably the Internet videos of our v.p. candidate in beauty contests have been disabled. This could turn out to be like McGovern’s selection of Eagleton in terms of blowing up in the face of the candidate. I sincerely hope though that both sides show restraint in the coming months and that the campaign is one of ideas.