I don't normally discuss politics here, but my brother and I spoke about the Sarah Palin VP selection tonight, and it got me thinking. This isn't an endorsement of McCain or Obama. Frankly, I hope they both lose. I don't like their positions in common, and I don't like their positions on which they differ. But the Palin pick intrigues me.
Let's weigh the pros and cons of Sarah Palin as a VP selection:
-Lack of distinguished educational background
-Lack of distinguishing credentials
-Major lack of experience
-Theoretically helps with the female vote
-Gets the social conservatives who are skeptical of McCain on board
-Makes the McCain ticket a lot younger
-She's not a Washington insider
-She forces the Obama ticket to tread more softly with their attacks, so as not to further alienate the Clinton backers.
-She's an attention grabbing choice - The media immediately dropped its coverage of the Obama speech to focus on her.
-Major lack of experience
You probably noticed her inexperience on both lists. This is not a typo. Let me explain.
A year ago, Obama had a unique advantage over every other realistic candidate from either party. He was the only candidate (with a chance) who opposed the Iraq war from the beginning. At that time its popularity was at an all-time low. However, right or wrong, the current perception is that Iraq is improving. What's worse for Obama is that the improvements supposedly resulted from the troop surge, which he opposed.
But Obama has a great fallback issue, which happens to be McCain's weak point: The Economy. I capitalized it for a reason. (HINT: It's important) Historically, no other issue has led as many presidents into (and out of) office.
But what does this have to do with Palin? Well, her weakest point could actually be exploited to McCain's advantage. Here's why: Clearly she's inexperienced. But if Sarah Palin achieves nothing else in her political life than to transform this election into a referendum on experience, she'll have achieved more for McCain than anyone thought possible.
Seriously. There are three big themes in this campaign: Iraq, The Economy, and Experience. On which of these do you think Obama least wants the voters to base their decisions? Palin's lack of experience actually serves to highlight Obama's relative inexperience. The Obama camp has to handle this carefully. Stones, Glass Houses, etc.
So, is Palin a good vice-presidential selection? Well, that depends on your perspective.
Is she a good choice for the United States? Clearly not. Even if you agree with Palin's politics completely, there are scores of like-minded people who would be better qualified to run the country if the need arose.
Is she a good choice for the McCain camp? I think so. McCain will likely still lose, but he had to do something unconventional, and nothing says conventional like Mitt Romney. It's a gamble for sure, but he had to pull something unorthodox to stand a chance. Who could he have picked with more potential upside to his campaign?
More people watched her speech last night than tuned in to Obama's acceptance speech. Who would have thought that was possible a couple weeks ago? If the Palin coverage continues, and no more skeletons surface, it could prove to be a brilliant maneuver.