From my reading around the blogosphere, it seems like a lot of democrats are jumping for joy over John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin. Lets not let our politics blind us to the way the political world works.
First, lets point out that the conventional theory behind a VP pick is to “balance the ticket”. Or in simpler terms, the VP candidate’s job is to cover up for a weakness of the President.
Obama picks Biden to cover up for his “inexperience”
Obama picks Biden to cover up for his “lack of foreign policy” expertise.
Obama picks Biden to cover up for his “lack of Washington knowledge”
Now, I’m not saying I subscribe to any of these perceptual arguments, but these are obviously the theme’s being floated around in this year’s election.
Now chances are, anytime that you pick a VP to balance you’re ticket there’s going to be some conflict in message. Biden is a symbol of the establishment and Obama is a symbol of change. But because of the weird alternate reality rules of politics that’s okay for most people. (Granted I think it’s more problematic for Obama but thats another post.)
So when we look at McCain’s selection of Palin you have to examine the wisdom in selecting her through the lens of what she brings to the table to “balance” McCain
Anti-Washington credibility- CHECK
Appeal to non traditional voters- CHECK
Easy to look at- CHECK
Bonafide evangelical street cred – CHECK
Now once again, I’m not advocating that people vote for a politician based on how “nice” or “pretty” they look but all bullshit aside, people do.
So when you examine the Palin pick I think its an incredibly smart pick for McCain. Not only does she balance his ticket extremely well, but she does a lot of other things such as:
1. Makes a play for women voters– Puts a decent chunk of the women’s vote up for play. I doubt most of them will vote McCain, especially since Palin is anti-choice, but if 10 to 15% of the women do vote for McCain it could be a big boost. But regardless of the outcome, the Obama camp will be forced to spend even more time and resources on a demographic they should have had locked up.
2. Creates a Media buzz- McCain is already getting a lot of media buzz from the Palin pick. It’s shocking, provocative, its a “sexy” pick from a media perspective. With the shallowness of the press, I can already see the numerous tv segments, articles, etc about stupid irrelevant topics like Palin was Miss Alaska. Never, never, underestimate the poor quality of our media in this country
3. It neutralizes Joe Biden– Sure Biden is a great attack dog, but in Vice President debates, one of the main forums for VPs to attack, Biden runs the risk of looking like a bully to the charming, and female, Palin. Once again, its a silly double standard in our society, but after 8 years of the Bush administration, I don’t think any of us can claim that American voters are intelligent.
4. Electoral votes– It takes Alaska, which seemed as if it was in play for Obama, out of play and solidly in the red column.
Of course, McCain’s pick of Palin will by no means lean McCain to victory in November, my point is that its foolish to pretend that John McCain made a huge error in his selection of Governor Palin.