Who's Sarah Palin?
Sarah Palin? Who is this Sarah Palin? Well, as a Democrat, I've got mixed feelings about this choice. I thought McCain was going to choose a lousy candidate like Mitt Romney or Tim Pawlenty, but he actually found a worse one.
What's so bad about her? Well, a few things. For one, with the McCain camp hitting Obama on experience issues, it doesn't look too good for them to have the vice president be someone who's only been governor of a small state for about a year and a half. Probably worse is the trouble Palin is in. The short story is that she pressured Alaska's Public Safety Commissioner to fire a state trooper who happened to be her ex-brother-in-law. The trooper hadn't done anything wrong except get into a messy divorce case with Sarah Palin's sister. The Public Safety Commissioner refused to fire the guy--so Palin got a new Public Safety Commissioner who fired the trooper for her. This has recently come to light in Alaska, which caused Governor Palin's approval rating to drop. Granted, her approval was already in the high 80s, so she's still pretty popular in Alaska, but does John McCain really want a running mate who's under a serious ethics investigation? It's bizarre.
The only thing I can think of is that he chose Palin in order to peel away disaffected Clinton supporters. His reasoning is that there are enough women out there who'd vote for a ticket just because it has a female vice president on it, abandoning Barack Obama. This is, frankly, lousy reasoning. It already has a number of conservatives freaking out, throwing their arms up in the air, bellowing, "What the hell is McCain doing? What the hell is he doing?"
So maybe this is a Hail Mary pass. Considering McCain's other choices, he didn't have a lot going for him. McCain could have chosen:
Former Governor Mitt Romney (MA)--A Mormon who would alienate Evangelicals.
Former Governor Mike Huckabee (AR)--An Evangelical who would alienate moderates and Catholics in the Northeast.
Former Congressman Rob Portman (OH)--Who?
Governor Tim Pawlenty (MN)--Again: who?
Former Governor Tom Ridge (PA)--A Catholic who supports abortion rights, who would alienate Evangelicals everywhere, though he'd help among moderates.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (CA)--A dream running mate for McCain, but ineligible, since he was born in Austria. He'd probably alienate conservatives, too, though he'd stand a chance of attracting enough Democrats to the ticket, if only he could run.
Senator Joe Lieberman (CT)--Lieberman's an old friend of McCain and the best thing to happen to conservatives since Benedict Arnold joined them. However, Lieberman's voting record is still fairly moderate, which would have pleased the evangelicals not at all. And Lieberman's Jewish, which is also a turn-off for evangelicals, who largely don't even view Roman Catholics as Christians. Sure, Ben Stein believes in intelligent design, but I don't think Joe Lieberman follows suit.
Could McCain be thinking that there are enough Hillary Clinton supporters who'd be drawn to a ticket like this? Maybe. But that theory seems too obvious to be correct. Still, why else would he pick such a risky candidate?