Notes on the Palin pick, in no particular order:
- McCain closed the deal with me (and likely millions of conservatives) with this pick. Not that we were planning on voting for Obama, but we were the Fred Thompson voters, the Mitt Romney voters, even some Mike Huckabee voters. We were deeply worried that the man who seemed to take pleasure in voting against Republican measures during his time in the Senate was now that party’s leader. But we’d moved his way as we grew horrified by the thought of an Obama presidency. We started getting comfortable as he spoke our language at Saddleback. And by picking Palin, McCain told us that he doesn’t just tolerate conservatives, he admires them; he doesn’t just want us to vote for him, he wants us to help him govern. I’m in.
- Women won’t be the only mass demographic to move with the Palin pick. Watch how Western states start shifting in McCain’s direction now. One of the more overlooked dynamics in politics is the fact that Western states, Western politicians, and Western values are largely absent from national politics. And they don’t appreciate it – much like ESPN is always lambasted for its East Coast Bias, Westerners assume that Washington is looking out for the 13 original colonies. Even though McCain is an Arizona senator, his years in Washington, his age, and his wealth distance him from Westerners. Palin, by contrast, oozes Western living. Her husband is a fisherman in the offseason and rides snowmobiles in competition. She shoots guns for sport, owns a float plane, and has a large family. She’s run a town of 9,000 people that’s 18 hours and a trip through Canada away from the state capital. Her parents cancelled today’s caribou hunt to watch their daughter accept the nomination for Vice President. These simple facts will connect Palin to voters in North Dakota, New Mexico, and Nevada in a way that no political ad could. And the contrast will be stark when the Senator from the First State faces off against the Governor of the Last Frontier.
- Todd Palin is a member of the United Steelworkers’ Union. He’s proud of being the “First Dude” of Alaska. He worked in the oil fields of Alaska’s North Slope. To my knowledge, no union household has ever occupied the White House or the Naval Observatory. Can all the union endorsements of Barack Obama possibly overcome that? WIll Palin’s Local petition the Steelworkers to rescind its endorsement of Obama?
- The Obama campaign struggled today with how to deal with the Palin announcement. The campaign was in full attack mode at first, calling her unqualified and unprepared to be President. Later, Obama and Biden congratulated her, and Obama chided his campaign for developing a “hair-trigger.” Don’t expect this internal debate to end today — the currents and countercurrents at work here, particularly for gender-obsessed Democrats, are myriad. A moment I desperately want to see: Palin turning to Biden during the debate and asking, “Senator, why are you going so easy on me? Don’t you worry, I can take it.”
- There’s something different about a mom, rather than a dad, who’s willing to put her son in harm’s way. I can’t put my finger on it, but there just is. Track Palin, the Governor’s oldest son, enlisted in the Army on September 11, 2007 — the first anniversary of that fateful day when he could join the armed forces. He will deploy to Iraq with his unit this year. Has any pair of national leaders been more prepared to judge whether it is worthwhile to put soldiers in harm’s way to protect America than John McCain and Sarah Palin?