Friday, August 29, 2008

Palin Helps McCain.

John McCain's pick of Sarah Palin seems to take experience off the table as an issue in the campaign. After all, Palin and Barack Obama are both inexperienced so McCain won't be able to attack Obama's inexperience. It's theoretically possible that voters may be tempted to shy away from McCain out of fear that an inexperienced Palin will have to finish out McCain's term. On the other hand, the likelihood of Obama becoming President is much greater than the likelihood of Palin becoming President during a McCain term. To state the obvious, if an inexperienced Obama wins the election, he's President. If McCain wins, the inexperienced Palin is Vice-President. Voters who are concerned about an inexperienced President are safer voting for McCain than Obama.

But I'm not sure experience was ever going to be the main issue in the general election. I suspect that those who believe Palin's inexperience hurts McCain are like generals fighting the last war. In this case, the primary election campaign.

Hillary Clinton had to run on experience versus inexperience in the Democratic primaries because she and Barack Obama basically share the same politics. How else could she differentiate herself positively from Obama? McCain and Obama don't share political ideology so McCain can run on political differences and Obama gave him a ton of material in his preemptive state of the union address from Invesco Field Thursday night.

So, I'm liking Palin. I think she's a good pick for McCain for these reasons:

1. She may appeal to working class Hillary voters. Not pro-choice women because they would vote for Obama regardless. Instead, she may appeal to both men and women in the working class who found Hillary's working class shtick appealing. You know, the voters Jim Webb wrote about in "Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America." The voters who cling to God and guns in times of distress, who drive pickup trucks, who go hunting, and who live in small town and rural America. The kind of voters who were turned off in the primaries by Obama's elitist demeanor.

2. Palin reinforces McCain's own change message. She's noted in Alaska as someone who has gone in and cleaned up the Republican establishment, even though she is a Republican herself. She's also known as a tough, take no prisoners politician. The line I heard on TV this morning is that the political landscape in Alaska is littered with the bodies of people who have crossed Sarah Palin. If true, I say, "yeah!"

3. Her presence on the ticket as a down the line conservative will help increase turnout among the Republican-base voters who feel uneasy about McCain's history of being the anti-Republican Republican.

-tdr

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