There’s a huge difference.
Obama is inexperienced and is at the top of the ticket. When the situation gets down to the wire, he’s the one who’s going to have to make the tough decisions; not Joe Biden. Obama had to pick Biden in light of the Georgian conflict highlighting his lack of foreign policy credentials; the fact that he was on vacation at the time, and the fact that the McCain campaign finally, finally, took advantage of a situation. They worked the heck out of it. The VP slot was crucial to Obama because it was the first real judgement he’s actually made that is of consequence; would he focus on the idea of change or actually choose someone of substance to plug up some of his flaws? He chose the right choice; Biden is a lot more substantive than Bayh or Kaine.
McCain could take a chance because he’s experienced and at the top of the ticket. He doesn’t have to prove that he’s capable of bucking his party or of actually creating bipartisanship. He’s got a record you can look at to prove that. Obama couldn’t afford to choose somoene who complemented his own ideals or his Washington outsider persona because he needed steak to his sizzle. McCain already has the experience; he chose someone who had the kind of reform-minded policies he had.
It helps that Goverrnor Palin has actually done something. She fought for ethics reform. She played a huge role in the oil committee in Alaska and when revenue increased dramatically for the oil companies there she paid the residents back. She fought against pork-barreling projects like the Bridge to Nowhere. She fought against her own party when Ted Stevens voted for that project. Not only does she have an actual record, she’s actually pretty compelling. She’s also got two more years of executive experience than Obama - who has none.
The news media is of course being disingenous. Had McCain chosen Romney or Pawlenty, the presumed frontrunners for the VP slot, we would still be having this conversation; they were successful Governors and foreign policy is not usually a huge state issue, so this problem of experience on the foreign policy front for McCain’s VP was always going to be there unless he chose Lieberman; that choice would have done wonders if solidifying the Jewish vote was a prime concern and if foreign policy was a gap for McCain. But neither are big problems for the McCain campaign, they might as well have chosen someone who has really shown an ability to stand up for reform within their own party. There’s also the fact that the conservative base would have gone crazy had McCain chosen Lieberman.
The only real problem is the fact that in the Lower 48, we don’t know much about this lady. This can be an asset to the McCain campaign; had McCain chosen Romney, Obama would have had a wealth of primary ads accusing McCain of this and that or demonstarating a part of his voting record that was designed to dissuade voters. The media got to question Obama about the choice and all he coudl do is return to the old “more with the same” phrase that I must have heard a thousand times watching the Democratic convention; why was that all he could do? It’s because he doesn’t know her.
McCain and Palin need to move very quickly and very effectively to frame Palin’s identity and capitalize on this. We aren’t going to get any Clinton supporters from this choice but the social conversative principles that keeps those voters from supporting her are really electrifying the base that McCain needed. Had Palin been chosen back when the Texas Republican Convention had been around, the people in that place would have gone crazy over he after they knew her policy stances.
McCain has caught us all off guard; if he can get Palin out in the limelight, educate her on foreign policy and on the economic factors and get her out for a few interviews before the Democrats slam her as some hockey mom we can recoup from Obama’s boost from the DNC.
This choice augments McCain’s call for substantive reform rather than the radical change of the Obama camp. It can only work if McCain and Palin move quickly to inform the American public about what she’s all about. The tabula rasa of Obama applies to Palin; let’s see what they put on it.
With Palin on the ticket we have a reassured base. If she frames her argument well enough, she can do what Clinton and Bush did - tell the country that despite their lack of foreign policy credentials, they were knowledgable about the issues and prepared for the job. If she performs well in the debate against Joe Biden we’ve got a winner on our hands. She can’t pull a Dan Quayle. We can’t afford it. McCain and Obama get three shots to make their case; Palin gets one. McCain is counting on her. I’m counting on her. America is counting on her. She’s got one shot.
I’ve contributed financially to the campaign. I’ve served the party as a delegate and Sergeant-at-arms. As soon as possible, I’m going to start working for the local party headquarters any way I can. I believe in McCain and I believe in Palin. We can’t lose this election. I’ll do all I can and hope Palin and McCain will do the same.