Friday, August 29, 2008

Will McCain Pick Sarah Palin?

(image via hoover)

The Vice Presidential pick is the single most important decision a candidate can make. Will Senator John Sidney McCain of Arizona prove himself a maverick today, or will he be, as so many of the speakers on the last day of the Denver convention pointed out, a yes man (Exaggerated cough suggesting feigned detachment)? If he picks Governor Sarah Palin he will be a maverick, if he picks Mitt Romney or the off-brand independent of Connecticut Joe Lieberman, he will stink of politics as usual in an unusually volatile change election.

Logic dictates that McCain pick Romney. Romney brings the conservative base; Romney holds an electoral victory in important Michigan; Romney has juice in the crucial Rocky Mountain West (especially in pivotal Colorado and Nevada with energized and significant Mormon voting blocks). Barack Obama's political touchdown at Invesco Field notwithstanding, Romney breathes political oxygen in McCain's fatiugued campaign.

And then there is Lieberman. A Lieberman pick would weaken McCain's hold on his base, but strengthen his overall appeal to the vital center, the sweet spot in any general election for the American Presidency.

Palin, however, would be a shrewd move. Offbeat. A nod to the next generation and a present to the embattled Alaska Republicans Party which, in this strange election season, are actually quite vulnerable for the first time in decades. Palin could also exert a pull on Hillary Democrats who still feel their candidate was wronged. How many die-hard Hillary Dems are there? Clearly some were Limbaugh operatives in open primaries (Texas and Ohio especially; possibly Indiana) participating, gleefully, in Operation: CHAOS. But if a significant percentage of the soi-dissant Hillary democrats are not, those votes might be in play because of Palin.

And Biden might be somewhat handcuffed in the Veep debates. Biden was picked to be the pit-bull, to say the things that temperamentally Senator Obama is uncomfortable saying of McCain. With Romney or Lieberman, Biden, the sitting head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, could really cut loose -- a specialty for "Joey From Scranton." Not so with Palin. Biden would have to play nice, holding to standards of civility in order to not fracture the still fragile coalition of Obama and Hillary Democrats recently forged at the conventions.

Will McCain pick Palin? Did the Biden pick automatically trigger that Palin pick if indeed the rumors are true? Would McCain presumably have picked Palin if Obama had picked Hillary? Does this excite more questions of: Why didn't Obama pick Hillary?

Finally -- is McCain a shrewd maverick or a yes man?

We will find out at noon in Dayton, Ohio.

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