Sarah Palin: a bold choice, or a desperate one?
So far, so good: McCain's VP pick has electrified conservatives.
(Page 2 of 2)
Opinion has divided sharply on the subject of Palin's experience. Some think that McCain has sacrificed his biggest advantage over Obama – his incomparably more substantial qualifications for the presidency. Others counter that the fact that Palin arguably has more relevant experience than Obama – the would-be president, not vice president – only serves to highlight Obama's vulnerability.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
The question is in part one of perception, and it is too early to know how most voters will view the implications of Palin's place on the ticket. The Obama campaign's hasty retreat from its first, derisive comment on Palin's experience, however, suggests that the Democrats are by no means confident that the comparison between Palin's background and Obama's is one to which they want to draw attention, at least for the moment.
Beyond demographic and tactical considerations, Palin has the potential to refocus attention on the issue of reform. Palin really is what Obama pretends to be, but is not: a citizen activist who entered politics in order to fight entrenched interests and bring about tangible, practical change. The track record shows that Obama, far from being a "change agent," is a relentless careerist who has brought little, if any, major reform to Chicago; Springfield, Ill., or Washington.
Palin's story not only stands as an implicit rebuke to Obama's pretensions, it could help focus attention on McCain's own very real credentials as a reformer. McCain is a spending hawk who has vowed to veto any bill enacted by Congress that contains an earmark. The presence of Palin, who can succinctly be introduced to voters as the governor who sold the state jet and spiked the Bridge to Nowhere, can only help McCain push the issue of reform – the needed antidote to Obama's vague calls for "change." Given the centrality of the reform issue this year, Palin's history as a citizen activist with a proven track record of taking on the status quo and winning may make her, of all the potential candidates in both parties, the one best qualified for the job of vice president.
In the end, Palin's contribution to the McCain campaign will depend on how she performs and whether she appears up to the job. The same media outlets that have viewed Obama's many gaffes with tolerance will pounce on any misstep that can be taken as a sign of Palin's inexperience. But McCain boldest move could turn out to be his best.