The set up looked great, but follow-through fell short.
If Senator John McCain is kicking himself this morning, it should not be for choosing Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. I will say the same thing about Palin that I wrote about Mike Huckabee in January ("Iowa Caucus Ruckus"): my plumber has more foreign policy experience (a statement that is perhaps even more appropriate now than it was ten months ago given Joe the Plumber's recent rise to fame).
But I also stand behind my earlier statement that Palin was a smart VP pick. Politically, she was a great counter to McCain’s socially liberal policies and she energized the republican base. The ticket was well-balanced. The campaign fell apart in the strategy.
Rather than focusing on Palin’s real assets the campaign spent most of its time defending strengths she doesn’t actually posses, ridiculously clinging to their claim that Alaska’s proximity to Russia makes her a foreign policy buff.
Palin is no political lightweight. She has battled corruption in Alaska, been an advocate for families with special needs children, and her experience on the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is particularly relevant as our nation vies for fuel independence. These are all strengths that would have helped create a well-rounded administration. Twenty years in the senate have given McCain enough experience in foreign and economic policy for the both of them. We should look for vice presidential candidates to posses skills or experience that the presidential candidate lacks.
I could blame the liberal media for unfairly attacking and haranguing Palin, but ultimately that just feels like a cop out. The campaign failed to refocus attention on Palin’s strengths, and that’s really too bad.
McCain will be 76 by the next election, and it’s unlikely he’ll run again. As for Palin, I wouldn’t support a bid for the presidency in 2012, but as Vice President she’d have done alright. If not, Mac could always send her on a peacekeeping mission to Africa.