The first thing that crossed my mind when I heard the news of McCain's choice for VP was: "Will the American people really be so dense as to NOT see through this obvious pandering to women voters?"
Honestly, I almost am having a hard time believing he actually did this, and it makes me wonder - yet again - just how out of touch with the spirit of American voters that McCain really is.
This choice is such an overtly transparent political move that it is almost insulting. Does McCain really think that Hillary supporters - who are largely feminist, pro-choice, and pro-environment - are going to flock to a gun-toting soccer mom and former beauty pageant candidate?
It's a big gamble, for sure. If people recognize what a transparent gimmick it is, it could really backfire on him.
What he's effectively saying to the American public is: "Wait, wait, look at me! I can make history too! See, a woman!"
McCain is a fine politician. Palin is, no doubt, an intelligent woman with a lot of spunk. But to elect these two people as the leaders of the free world - the former a septuagenarian who has voted with Bush 90% of the time, and the latter an inexperienced mother of five only a heartbeat away from the presidency? It's got to be a joke.
I was asked by a McCain supporter whether Palin's inexperience was any more of an issue than Obama's inexperience. I have already written elsewhere why I believe the "inexperience" theme of McCain's campaign against Obama is a fraud. It's even more of a fraud now that he has selected Palin. Consider the following:
1) Obama has a better educational background, one better suited to public office. He has a B.A. from Columbia University in Political Science with an emphasis in International Relations. Later, after working with community action groups for several years in Chicago, he went to Harvard, where he became the first black president of the Harvard Law Review, and graduated with a J.D. magna cum laude.
These are the kinds of educational credentials that many successful politicians have. Actually, they're a lot better than many politicians have.
Palin, on the other hand, has a Bachelor's in journalism with a minor in poly-sci from the University of Idaho. And that's it.
2) Obama has a lot more political experience. Obama was an Illinois state politician for 7 years - Illinois being a state with 12 million people (5th largest in the country), including the 3rd largest city in the country. After that, he was elected to the U.S. Senate, where he has nearly 4 year's experience. All told, he has 11 years of legitimate political experience at both the state and federal levels.
Palin, on the other hand, has several years' experience on the city council of Wasilla, Alaska. Wasilla is a town of about 6,700 people, 85% of which are white. There are PTA presidents in the lower 48 who govern over that many, or more, people.
After her time on the city council, she was defeated in a run for lieutenant governor. In 2006, however, she successfully won the gubernatorial election, and became governor. As a result, she now has a little less than 2 years of gubernatorial experience to add to her resume.
Alaska has 670,000 people. If you eliminated 100,000 people from the city of Indianapolis, Palin's "executive" experience would be equivalent with a 2-year term as the mayor of that city.
Even many Republicans seem flabbergasted and puzzled by this choice. One friend of mine, who voted for Bush in both 2000 and 2004, and is not a supporter of Obama, said that McCain's selection of Palin was a "horrible choice." Another person asked the question: "Is McCain TRYING to let Obama win?"
Alaska will not help McCain at all in electoral votes. Clearly his choice of Palin was based on her gender, her conservative politics, and the fact that she's not a Washington insider. Yet her incredible lack of experience and "average" education makes his choice a huge gamble, and completely destroys his theme of Obama's inexperience. Do we really want a septuagenarian with a history of cancer and physical/mental torture in a POW camp governing the country together with a young and inexperienced state politician?
And, of course, none of this even addresses the fact that Palin, in her first two years as governor, is already involved in a scandal relating to the hiring and firing of state employees. This is the kind of scandal that brought down the governor of Kentucky, and caused him to lose big in his re-election bid in 2007. Whether she is guilty of anything or not, why bring someone onto the ticket that could be a potential political liability, in addition to the fact that it seems to be such a transparent gimmick? Is this evidence of McCain's age and a loss of mental sharpness?
I've said in the days leading up to this VP selection that depending on who he chose, I would feel either better or worse about the prospects of a McCain presidency. Putting an inexperienced Alaska politician one heartbeat away from the presidency is a scary, disturbing scenario.
Unless McCain's got something else really fancy up his sleeve, I really believe he has helped Obama's chances by choosing Palin. It's a transparent gimmick that I think many voters will see through, and I think her youth and inexperience will only highlight the issue of McCain's age and the possibility of him not being able to finish his term.
Obviously, die-hard Republicans are going to rally around her. A friend of mine, who is a very conservative Republican, was lauding her as a "gun-toting strong woman" and he was clearly very proud. But his vote for McCain was never in doubt to start with. I don't think most of the American voters that McCain is trying to court will be very impressed with his choice. I think he has made a calculated gamble that is going to fail.