Somewhere between Denver, Colorado and Chappaqua, New York, Hillary Clinton is cackling and making plans to store her multitudinous rainbow of pantsuits for use in 2012. In the course of a single morning on his 72nd birthday, Sen. John McCain managed to stultify Barack Obama’s self-proclaimed monopoly on the capacity for change in Washington, reach out to millions of disenfranchised female voters, and unite the conservative base of the Republican party, all in one swift, relatively unexpected mood.
Sarah Palin, the effervescent 44-year-old governor of Alaska, took to the podium in Dayton, Ohio at noon today, highlighted her career as a reform-minded conservative, her happiness as a mother of five children, and her roots as a child of teachers and wife to a commercial fisherman. She also overtly reached out to supporters of Clinton, citing the New York senator’s characterization this past week of 18 million cracks in America’s glass ceiling, saying simply, “It turns out the women of America aren’t finished yet, and we can shatter that glass ceiling once and for all.”
Right now, Joe Biden is licking his chops. And, with foreign policy on the mind, while most people will expect him to wipe the floor with Palin when the pair debate on October 2 at Washington University in St. Louis, Biden could have a difficult time for a few reasons. First, if he is too aggressive with her, he may end up looking like a bully. Second, Sarah Palin, whose nickname is apparently “Sarah Barracuda,” has the knowledge of energy geopolitics necessary to be governor of Alaska and integral to so many aspects of American foreign policy, and has a reputation of never backing down from a fight.
Palin’s selection not only brings Barack Obama’s healthy afterglow from last night’s acceptance speech to a shuddering halt, but it also dismantles several of his best arguments against McCain.
Obama paints McCain and the GOP as being out of touch with the average American voter, saying last night that the Arizona senator just doesn’t “get it,” yet Palin is a self-proclaimed “hockey mom” and has a blue collar, normal upbringing and story of her own. The daughter of teachers and wife of a commercial fisherman and oil worker, Palin is an avid hunter and outdoorswoman and may connect better with lunchpail voters, time clock punchers, and the Costco crowd than Barack Obama and Joe Biden could hope to do.
Obama touts himself as an agent for change in Washington, D.C.–yet picks for his running mate one of the longest-servng senators (at 36 years and counting) of all time–while Palin’s Alaska is a long, long way from the halls of Capitol Hill. As Obama tries desperately to somehow paint Biden as an outsider by touting his Amtrak commuting record, McCain will only need a globe to demonstrate just how far away from politics-as-usual his selection truly is.
Furthermore, come mid-September, both McCain and Palin will have sons serving in the military overseas in Iraq, a testament to bravery and patriotism and sacrifice difficult to transcend without appearing callous or misguided or bitter. It is difficult to argue the inescapable horrors of war against a man who has seen them firsthand, and a woman whose eldest son wakes up to them every day.
Obama’s camp has already released a statement questioning Palin’s experience, stating that it is difficult to believe that, on his 72nd birthday, McCain has tapped a former mayor of a town of 9,000 to be only a heartbeat away from the presidency. The truth is, Palin is the only person on either ticket to have any sort of executive experience and, when it comes down to details, I believe that most Americans would be happiest if the candidate with the lesser experience is number two on the ticket rather than number one.
I look forward to seeing what the Republican National Convention has to offer about Palin, how she fits into the overall picture. Her reputation as a fiscal conservative, as a sportswoman, as a seemingly normal wife and mother says a whole lot, but it will be interesting to see how she does on such a monumental stage. The latter half of her speech today was better and more well-written than the first, but throughout the entire thing I could not help but see that, in Gov. Palin, John McCain is getting pretty much exactly what he needs.
And this is more than just a pick for vice president in 2008, this is a polestar showing that the future of the Republican Party is safely in the hands of pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, pro-free market, pro-national security conservatives.