McCain’s Gamble

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My e-mail & landlines have been burning incessantly since yesterday on the news of John McCain’s decision to pick Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his Vice-President for the GOP national ticket. I haven’t experienced this level of excitement in quite some time. It’s great to see almost every component of the Republican base come together over this ticket. The energy helps to make a November victory possible.

Me? I’m cautiously optimistic with an emphasis on “cautious”. Palin has little to no exposure in dealing with the national media on a 24/7 basis. Her every move & statement will be under a microscope & any gaffe on her part will be amplified to the “nth” degree. I’m not sure if the traditional role of VP as the team’s “attack dog” will suit her but she may redefine the role in a way that plays to her strengths.

My main concern is her lack of foreign policy experience. We live in an uncertain world with challenges to the nation’s security coming in various forms be they Islamofascism or the resurgence of aggressive nations such as Russia. Palin’s selection takes off the table McCain’s most potent line of attack against his Democrat rival Barack Obama – his lack of experience. But it becomes a wash as well since Team Obama can’t use that same line of attack against McCain’s VP out of fear said attack may boomerang against “The One” himself as he auditions, in part, for the nation’s job as Commander-In-Chief.

But what impresses me most about McCain’s selection of Palin is the level of strategic thought put behind it. With Palin, McCain has 1) re-branded his maverick image but in a way that, while it still excites the media, it also reunites the base; 2) demonstrated that he & his VP will be the real agents of change (as opposed to the Democrat ticket) in a way that will appeal to unenrolleds; 3) reminded elements of the Democrat base that for them there is now a viable alternative to the ticket some of them don’t like. [Note: Most Hillary Clinton supporters who are liberal, upscale, professional women will NOT vote for Palin; however, many Democrat primary Clinton supporters were working class, socially conservative women & I think a significant chunk of that vote will find Palin appealing enough to vote for her.]

As I said in my last RMG diary, Obama’s selection of Joe Biden as the Democrat ticket’s VP gave McCain “an opportunity to solidify his bonafides as a genuine change agent by picking a running mate who can excite the Republican base, attract unenrolleds, & offer segments of the Democrat Party a compelling rationale to vote Republican in the privacy of their respective voting booths.” McCain has now made the gamble of his political career. The nation will see at next week’s Republican National Convention if Palin is up to the task given to her by McCain. If she lives up to the internal GOP hype on the campaign trail, the general election in November might witness a Republican victory in this “Year of the Democrat”.

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