What a pleasant surprise this is — John McCain shocks us all by choosing the Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin. The McCain campaign did an outstanding job keeping us in suspense until the last 2-3 hours before her official introduction. This is one heck of a risk, as we are presently seeing with the current Democrat attacks on her, but the payoff could be huge. If Friday was the country’s first introduction to Governor Palin, it was an impressive debut for her. She came across as very personable and as someone who can sell the conservative message in a way that McCain cannot. Her appeal is more than just gender-based. She has working class credibility. She’s a mom as well as a lifetime member of the NRA. She’s not only pro-life, but she has practiced what she preaches by deciding to have a baby that she knew would have Down’s Syndrome. Then there’s her record of fighting corruption in Alaska even against fellow Republicans. What’s not to like?
Conservatives dodged a bullet with this pick, because apparently McCain was very close to picking Joe Lieberman. He was still considering it as late as this past Monday. When I first heard about McCain’s choice, my initial reaction was that the base may have sabotaged McCain by suggesting Governor Palin. I love her story, and I think she’s a great representative for women and for Republicans, but I’m not sure she’s ready to be Vice President. It’s entirely possible that she’s more ready to be VP than Barack Obama is to be President, but this isn’t the best argument for her. The following weeks before the election will give us an indication of how ready she is to handle the demands of the national spotlight, and I will be watching her and cheering her on, because conservatism needs representatives like Governor Palin in Washington, D.C.
Dick Morris gets too much attention for his views on politics in general and the ’08 race in particular. He occasionally gets the analysis right, but this time I think he’s giving McCain bad advice on VP choices. His whole premise is that McCain needs a WOW choice, someone who will excite voters into giving his candidacy a second look. So far he’s making sense. Then he suggests three choices: Condi Rice, Colin Powell, and Joe Lieberman. Sorry, I’m not feeling the excitement here. Condi Rice and Colin Powell would be minority candidates with long resumes, and would add diversity to the ticket, but they are also tied to previous administrations and the war in Iraq. McCain needs to make a clean break from the Bush administration, and picking Condi Rice or Colin Powell would not accomplish this objective.
Then there’s the Democrats’ favorite non-Democrat Joe Lieberman. Does Morris really think that independents and moderates will flock to McCain’s side because he picks Joe Lieberman? Joe Lieberman is not even all that popular in his own party. I can’t see him adding much of value to a McCain ticket. Even though Lieberman is reasonably popular with conservatives solely because of his support of the war in Iraq, he is even more moderate than McCain on social issues, and this pick wouldn’t help McCain hold on to the conservatives who have resigned themselves to our Republican nominee.
McCain should keep looking and expand his Republican prospects beyond Pawlenty, Crist, Ridge, Portman and some of the other no-names on his list. Romney’s not the guy, and I can’t see how McCain picks him after their heated primary battle and Romney’s lack of credibility with voters. (Before I get too much flack over this comment, let me just say that this is the way I think the public in general sees Romney. It’s not my personal view of the man, and I would be perfectly happy with him as the Republican nominee for President or VP. Just not in 2008.)