Friday, August 29, 2008

VP Choices Have Been Made

Well I guess you can't be right all the time. Or ever as the case may be. I was almost certain that Barack Obama would choose an "outside the beltway" candidate who was certainly not a long serving Senator. Oops. Likewise I was almost certain that John McCain would pick someone with whom he had a rapport like...well I guess he doesn't have a good rapport with that many people...but someone like Huckabee or Florida Gov. Charlie Crist. It seems like loyalty is important to him and therefore paying back the man who essentially handed him the nomination would be likely. Not so.

Needless to say, neither of my assertions were at all close to the mark. In fact, they were essentially opposite. Obama chose Joe Biden (D-Del) who has been serving in the Senate since Barack was a young man. Sure he bolsters foreign policy credentials, but he doesn't place any state in play that wasn't already there. McCain shocked everyone (not the least of which is Mitt Romney who I'm sure thought he was a shoe-in, and Pawlenty who really thought he had a chance) by picking Sarah Palin, Gov. of Alaska. If that's not outside the beltway, I don't know what is.

The thing that makes me suddenly respect Obama's choice more than anything is the fact that he was looking not towards Nov, but towards actually governing the nation. Biden doesn't really help electorally and isn't all that dynamic of the stump, but he certainly will help Obama when it comes to the affairs of state. Obama has shown remarkable forethought and intelligence. Imagine this scenario: Barack Obama chooses Hillary Clinton as his running mate and breezes to victory. The Democrats are united and excited. They get into office and immediately things begin to unravel. Hillary holds fast to her Clintonian Agenda and Barack attempts to enact his new brand of politics. Three words: Oil and Water. Now I'm not at all saying that Joe Biden will be a push-over, but he will certainly not bring a world of conflict to the White House. In essense Obama made the difficult but correct decision and chose the man who would most help him govern, not the woman who could have ensured an easy victory.

Conversely, McCain's pick seems like a desperate ploy for fireworks that immediately blew up in his face. Firstly his pick directly undercuts every argument that he has been making against Barack Obama since the beginning of the campaign. Obama (47) is a Senator from a large, diverse state and has both state and national legislative experience. Palin (44) is the Gov. of Alaska (tiny by way of population) and has absolutely no foreign policy experience. Talk about sending mixed messages. Suddenly McCain is trying to become the agent of change, "to shake up Washington." Um, nice try but as Hillary learned the hard way, you can't start out as the experience candidate and then suddenly shift into the change candidate. Secondly, McCain seems to have brought to the fore the issue he was most intent on tapping down, namely his age. Suddenly people are imagining a President Palin and thinking, "Oh my God." By chosing someone that people are clearly unfamiliar with, McCain has opened the door to rampant speculation about his age and ability to govern. While Biden was chosen to reassure the electorate that had been shaken up by the electric Obama campaign, Palin seems to have chosen to shake up an electorate that had already accepted their candidate's experience. That seems a touch backwards.

We'll see how things happen, but I don't really think a lot of Hillary supporters are going to be put over just because Palin is a woman. Nice try McCain, but I think you'd better start working on your reelection to the Senate against Janet Napolitano in 2010. It'll be a tough race.