John McCain’s choice for a running mate is a brilliant political move, although it raises new questions about just how much pandering will Arizona’s senior senator undertake in his bid for the White House.
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is a conventionally conservative “hockey mom” whose against abortion, loves the National Rifle Association and favors oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
But more important is her experience, which could be immediately called into question by McCain’s opponents. Palin has served as governor for barely two years and started her political career as part-time mayor of a small town in the middle-of-nowhere Alaska.
On the surface, it’s a problem for McCain. In truth, however, it’s a trap for his opponents. If Democrats don’t take the bait, then McCain made an appointment that will receive minimal scrutiny. Other than her lack of experience, she’s not an attractive target. It just doesn’t look good when a two-man ticket goes after a popular governor, a supermom with a newborn special needs child, and a former beauty queen who’s a rock star in her home state.
If Obama and his team attack Palin’s thin political resume, it will only point fingers at Obama’s thinner resume. And Obama heads the ticket; Palin’s merely a running mate.
Vice presidential appointees don’t mean much, typically, in presidential elections. Voters are far more interested in the top of the ticket. With Palin, however, conservatives may perceive a future leader. That may get them energized, for the first time, in voting for McCain. If so, this race will shape up as a nail-biter.