The dust hadn’t even settled from Obama’s ‘party like Barack star’ mega-speech at Denver’s mile high stadium when John McCain dropped his VP surprise. The presumptive Republican nominee selected Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. The woman of the hour wasn’t one of the main candidates being chatted about by the talking cabezas in the corporate media who are now trying to play analytical catch up. Several of my colleagues see the move as a desperate attempt by the McCain campaign, but I do see the GOP rationale behind Palin. Read on:
First: The selection is an obvious attempt to erode Barack Obama’s support among Hillary Clinton supporters. Her talented speech at the DNC earlier this week only intensified their bond. Many who were interviewed afterwards expressed an ambiguous opinion as to whether or not they were going to vote for Obama come November. The McCain campaign, in choosing Palin, is seeking to sector off those voters who might defect the party by offering the bait of what could possibly be the first female VP in U.S. history. Having Palin as a running mate ensures that regardless of who wins the election, history will be made. McCain can now fashion himself as a having a diversity ticket. This is reminiscent of what the Republicans did to Obama the last time he ran for office. Only this time, the candidate isn’t Alan Keyes running for Senate in Illinois. This time around the strategy and the candidate are more sound.
Second: John McCain is old. In fact, he is the oldest candidate ever to be seeking a first term as president. George H.W. Bush was also old and stiff. Back in ’88 he selected Dan Quayle as his running mate because PR handlers thought Quayle was a young and attractive addition to the ticket. I hate to even ponder this point in my analysis because it’s uncomfortably sexist, but Palin is young at 44 and is an attractive woman. Yes, I believe these attributes were assessed in the overall PR framing of the McCain bid for the White House.
Third: Baiting Biden. Senator Obama’s drafting of Joe Biden to be his number two had to be taken into account for Republican strategy. Biden has a reputation for being gaffe-ridden. The Senator from Delaware has already been cited in the media for making statements about Indians and 7/11. He even called Obama an “articulate” and “clean” politician. (That’s like saying a Mexican like me can speak English and isn’t greasy!) With VP debates looming, Biden will have to avoid two things. 1) Making a stupid sexist remark that will shatter Obama’s political presentation. 2) Not come across as arrogant and condescending to Palin in the debates because that too will look sexist.
Fourth: Palin is, as mentioned before, the Governor of Alaska. McCain must have taken into consideration her state since he is big on formulating and articulating an energy policy. The Republicans are going to try to exploit favorable public opinion polls on offshore drilling and domestic oil resources. Alaska certainly plays into this because Palin is actually to the right of McCain on the issue of ANWR drilling. Expect the Senator from Arizona to move to in sync with his running mate in the short future. He has already expressed flexibility on this particular issue in the past.
Fifth: The McCain campaign immediately reacted to Obama’s selection of Biden as his running mate by using the Delaware Senator’s own words espoused during the Primary races. At a point when candidates are throwing critical shit on each other, McCain is able to isolate Biden’s old arguments and present them as contradictions. One big theme has been Biden’s Primary comments on Obama’s inexperience. In selecting Palin, however, the McCain camp has taken that same exact card to play away from the Democrats. Had he selected some like Shit Romney, then Obama and friends could have dug up his not so nice and thus not so convenient thoughts on McCain when they were in the Primary trenches.
Fatal Flaw: Though I have ruminated through the sensibilities of the Republicans’ rationale for Palin, the selection is risky and contains a fatal flaw. As mentioned in point five, the McCain campaign has lobed the criticism of Obama’s lack of experience as their weapon of choice. However, in picking Palin, they submit that point of attack because she has even less experience than Obama. The Governor’s office is the highest position of power she has attained and she hasn’t even completed a full term yet! The Obama-Biden campaign must carefully and meticulously neutralize McCain’s experience based criticisms on the basis of his selected running mate.