No, it turns out we aren’t talking about the presenter of countless BBC/PBS travel documentaries. Rather, we find that McCain has named the Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, as his running mate.
The choice is an interesting one, to say the least. Politically, it’s counterintuitive. It’s not as though she’ll bring a large swing state: Alaska’s three electoral votes usually go Republican anyway. (Of course, the same point was made about Wyoming’s Cheney.) And in terms of bringing in someone from outside the Beltway…well, it’s hard to go much farther than Juneau (Hawaii? Guam? The director of the Alaska Volcano Observatory?). And as far as experience…well, there’s a lot to say for bringing in fresh faces. On the other hand, two years of one of the smaller states (population-wise) is pretty fresh for someone who could abruptly become president.
On the other hand, she does seem to be eminently conservative–pro-life, fiscally conservative (even quarrelling with the compulsive ear-marker Sen. Ted Stevens over his spending habits), and all the rest. The small amount of dirt they’ve found on her seems fairly innocuous. Philosophically, she rounds out the ticket very well. I just wish she had a little more in the way of experience. At first glance, she reminds me a bit of Dan Quayle–a great person whose inexperience made it too easy to mock conservatives. Still, you play with the hand you’ve got. And there are lots of worse choices McCain could have made.
I hope, I hope, I hope that McCain picked her on the grounds of her credentials. If he picked her as a way of attracting disaffected Hillary supporters, I’m inclined to think it was a miscalculation. How many of Hillary’s most ardent supporters are likely to support a pro-life Republican? Of course I could be wrong. There could be women who would vote for a woman simply because she is a woman, whatever her beliefs–which is an interesting place to pin one’s hopes, given all the unpleasant names we have for men who would vote for a man whatever his beliefs simply because he isn’t a woman.
It’s a bold strategy McCain has undertaken (“Courageous,” as Sir Humphrey Appleby might say). Will it work? Time will tell.