I’ve stayed away from blogging about politics for a while, basically because nothing had changed that much that I thought was worth harping on. I explained a long time ago why I tend to vote Republican (life, judges, and foreign policy), and I’ve taken great pains to not be one of those bloggers who every day picks apart the other guy—in this case Barack Obama—simply because I disagree with him. By way of disclaimer, let me also stipulate that I think that he’s a very likeable guy, and that it is a net positive for the country to have a minority candidate achieve what he has (although I still don’t want him appointing judges). I also have been less than enthused about John McCain. My favorite line about him (not original by any means) has been that McCain is “a great American, a pretty good senator, and a lousy Republican.” Although I respect his stance as a “maverick,” it has seemed like all too often the definition of “maverick” has been that he does things with which I disagree. I’m not a party guy, but I’m a conservative—and there has been plenty of reason to question whether McCain is truly conservative.
But yesterday—WOW! By picking Sarah Palin of Alaska as his running mate, I think McCain really did something worth mentioning. As a short-term, tactical move, the pick had the effect of sucking all the media attention away from Obama’s historic acceptance speech. As a long-term, strategic move, it really reassures conservatives like me that McCain is not taking our votes for granted. In the category of the super-obvious, she has the added advantage of being a woman. And I happen to think she is a fabulous pick.
By now, everybody who has seen a cable news show knows the compelling biography—hockey mom who married her high school sweetheart and came up from PTA to mayor to governor, 1980s beauty queen, state champion point guard, who hunts, fishes, is married to a part-Eskimo blue-collar snowmobile racer. She is the mom of 5, including a son bound for Iraq in the army and a baby born with Downs Syndrome. She is known (like McCain) as a maverick, having bucked the notoriously corrupt Alaska GOP, and as governor she has enjoyed approval ratings in the stratosphere. She is very good on the issue of energy (assuming, of course, you think “good” means in favor of increased production). She is staunchly pro-life, and a life member of the NRA. And unlike somebody like Mitt Romney, she didn’t spend the better part of the last year campaigning against John McCain, so there shouldn’t be any youtube videos of her out there claiming he’s too old, too grumpy, or too liberal.
Of course, it would be disingenuous to claim that it wouldn’t be even better if she had been governor for 10 years instead of less than two. The obvious rejoinder to the criticism that she lacks “experience” is that so does Obama, and that at least her inexperience is at the bottom, not the top of the ticket. And in terms of executive experience, she had more after her term as mayor of a small town than anybody else in the race (including 24-year senator McCain or 35-year senator Biden). As governor, she’s been commander-in-chief of the Alaska National Guard and run a state government. To paraphrase Jesse Jackson, senators run nothing but their mouths. I think any argument that McCain undercut his message about experience by picking her is balanced by the counter-argument that Obama did the exact same to his “change” message by picking uber-insider Joe Biden. One thing is for sure… it’s pretty hard to get more “outside” of DC than small-town Alaska!
I’ve done a lot of reading of reaction from various pundits in the past couple of days, and the trend among conservatives has been probably 20-1 in favor of the Palin pick. Just speaking for myself, my support for John McCain has gone from resignation that he was the lesser of two evils to outright enthusiasm. I may even get a bumper sticker! Of course, there’s a lot of time left, and anything can happen. But I’m more optimistic about this race and the future than I have been since before the primaries.