Read the entire article at Politico.com:
6 things Palin pick says about McCain
By JIM VANDEHEI & JOHN F. HARRIS | 8/30/08 8:57 AM EST
John McCain’s pick of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin says a lot about his decison-making – and some of it is downright breathtaking.
The selection of a running mate is among the most consequential and the most defining decisions a presidential nominee can make. John McCain’s pick of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin says a lot about his decision-making — and some of it is downright breathtaking.
We knew McCain is a politician who relishes improvisation and likes to go with his gut. But it is remarkable that someone who has repeatedly emphasized experience in this campaign named an inexperienced governor he barely knew to be his No. 2. Whatever you think of the pick, here are six things it tells us about McCain:
1. He’s desperate. Let’s stop pretending this race is as close as national polling suggests. The truth is McCain is essentially tied or trailing in every swing state that matters — and too close for comfort in several states, such as Indiana and Montana, that the GOP usually wins pretty easily in presidential races. On top of that, voters seem very inclined to elect Democrats in general this election — and very sick of the Bush years.
McCain could easily lose in an electoral landslide. That is the private view of Democrats and Republicans alike.
McCain’s pick shows he is not pretending. Politicians, even “mavericks” like McCain, play it safe when they think they are winning — or see an easy path to winning. They roll the dice only when they know that the risks of conventionality are greater than the risks of boldness.
The Republican brand is a mess. McCain is reasonably concluding that it won’t work to replicate George W. Bush and Karl Rove’s electoral formula, based around national security and a big advantage among Y chromosomes, from 2004.
“She’s a fresh new face in a party that’s dying for one — the antidote to boring white men,” a campaign official said.
Palin, the logic goes, will prompt voters to give McCain a second look — especially women who have watched Democrats reject Hillary Rodham Clinton for Barack Obama.
The risks of a backlash from choosing someone so unknown and so untested are obvious. In one swift stroke, McCain demolished what had been one of his main arguments against Obama.
“I think we’re going to have to examine our tag line, ‘dangerously inexperienced,’” a top McCain official said wryly.
2. He’s willing to gamble — bigtime. Let’s face it: This is not the pick of a self-confident candidate. It is the political equivalent of a trick play or, as some Democrats called it, a Hail Mary pass in football. McCain talks incessantly about experience, and then goes and selects a woman he hardly knows, who hardly knows foreign policy and who can hardly be seen as instantly ready for the presidency.
He is smart enough to know it could work, at least politically. Many Republicans see this pick as a brilliant stroke, because it will be difficult for Democrats to run hard against a woman in the wake of the Hillary Clinton drama. Will this push those disgruntled Hillary voters McCain’s way? Perhaps. But this is hardly aimed at them: It is directed at the huge bloc of independent women who could decide this election — especially those who do not see abortion as a make-or-break issue.
McCain has a history of taking dares. Palin represents his biggest one yet.
3. He’s worried about the political implications of his age. Like a driver overcorrecting out of a swerve, he chooses someone who is two years younger than the youthful Obama and 28 years younger than he is. (He turned 72 on Friday.) The father-daughter comparison was inevitable when they appeared next to each other.
4. He’s not worried about the actuarial implications of his age. He thinks he’s in fine fettle and Palin wouldn’t be performing the main constitutional duty of a vice president, which is standing by in case a president dies or becomes incapacitated. If he were really concerned about an inexperienced person sitting in the Oval Office, we would be writing about vice presidential nominee Mitt Romney or Tom Ridge or Condoleezza Rice.