Friday, August 29, 2008

Shrewd choice, but with risks

Could this campaign possibly get more interesting?

Sen. John McCain's pick of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for his ticket is a shrewd move. It's been obvious for weeks plenty of Hillary Clinton supporters – many of them women disgusted at what they saw as misogyny in the presidential campaign that plenty of liberals never noticed or decried – weren't sold on Barack Obama. How many will now consider voting for the McCain-Palin ticket? Probably quite a few.

Palin is attractive (she was runner-up in the 1984 Miss Alaska pageant), mother of five, an avid outdoorswoman with a reputation as a reformer in a state whose long-time U.S. senator is under indictment. Wikipedia reported she was also point guard on a state championship high school basketball team – that's sure to resonate with North Carolinians. She's a former union member, married to a union member.

On the other hand, it's the undecided and independent voters who will likely decide this election. They're an unpredictable crowd, with diverse interests and outlooks. Choosing a socially conservative, pro-NRA, reform-minded woman may well be quirky enough to win over independents who might have been wavering toward Obama, or those who don't really look at policy positions and issue statements so much as going with their gut.

It's shrewd but it's also risky. Many Clinton supporters are disgusted with the Republican Party's and the Bush administration's steady assault on legal abortion. Bush's Supreme Court choices have put Roe v. Wade clearly in jeopardy. McCain himself is staunchly anti-abortion, despite all the trial balloons about choosing an abortion rights veep candidate. So is Palin.

How many Clinton supporters would be OK with such an anti-abortion ticket, versus those who would approve and those who don't care? Hard to predict.

Also, as political analysts were speedy to point out, it will be tricky now for McCain and the GOP to keep attacking Obama's lack of experience.

McCain is 72 (his birthday is today) and has had cancer twice. He's reported to be cancer-free and in good health. But any actuarial table will show he's less likely to live through an eight-year set of presidential terms than a 47-year-old like Obama. How much will voters fret over the possibility of a vice president with so little political experience?

Palin's been governor of a state with only 670,000 people – it's about the size of Charlotte – and only since election in 2006. Before that she was on the city council and then mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, population 5,470, although she ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2002.

This year's campaign has already made history – twice – and been as fun to watch as any Aaron Sorkin script might have been. The next two months will continue this historic campaign's role.

Posted by Mary Newsom.


Independant Voter said...

How insulting this pick is to all women in this country. Does the Republican party think that we are stupid? Apparently so. They cynically think that we will vote for anyone just because there is a woman on the ticket. Not so. A woman with no experience and five children including an infant with medical problems is not an asset. As potentially the oldest president to be sworn in McCain has a fair chance of expiring in office. Do you want anyone, male or female, with two years experience of running a state the population of Charlotte as commander in chief? Republicans have criticized Obama's lack of experience, and they give us this? As a woman, and as an American, we deserved better from John McCain. I think we females are a lot smarter than this Republican party gives us credit for. How glad I am that I switched my registration from Republican to Independent this year. This party doesn’t deserve intelligent woman members.