Sarah Palin has presented Barack Obama with an opportunity of a lifetime. An opportunity that would demonstrate to America his ability to be a decisive leader and to show that even he, can adapt to changing circumstances. The change that is needed is for Obama to replace Joe Biden on the ticket. Not with Hillary Clinton; who at this point would probably refuse. The choice he needs to make is Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius.
Had John McCain not chosen Sarah Palin, this would be a non-issue. The differences between Mitt Romney, Tom Ridge or even Joe Lieberman vs. Joe Biden are slight in the undecided voter’s mindset. Undecided voters would mostly tune out two white guys going at it in the VP debate as they have for years. The best example was Dan Quayle vs. Lloyd Bentsen. Quayle was wrongfully viewed as a dullard and Bentsen was seen as on the wrong side of senility. Voters tuned them out and focused more on Michael Dukakis’ reaction to what he would do if his wife was raped.
This year is different. Palin’s convention speech drew more viewers than Obama. Palin’s appearance at the October 2nd vice-presidential debate, in St. Louis will draw more viewers than all but possibly the first McCain-Obama match up. It could very easily be the most watched debate of the last 25 years. This is the problem for Obama. McCain picks up votes every time Sarah Palin is on TV. Biden is not such an asset of Obama.
2008 has shown that the dynamics of the election cycle have changed. It seems like forever that we have been told, “At the end of the day, people vote for the top of the ticket.” This should come down to McCain vs. Obama. Again, this year is different. Obama’s staggering number of black voters was not garnered by his policies being that supportive of black issues. That number was largely attained because he is black.
The media would like us to believe such a phenomenon will not occur with Sarah Palin. Women are not going to move to her side in the 90% range because she is a woman. The media would be correct. Where they miss the point is that McCain does not need 90% of the female vote – he needs a little north of 50% (Bush got 48% of the female vote in 2004).
Plain’s appeal as a woman and hockey mom, to other women will give the ticket anywhere from 55-60% of the female vote. Couple that with the number of blue collar men that are drawn to McCain’s camp now and the voice given to the religious right, who many had feared would stay at home this year, and McCain is looking at a 53% majority in November.
How does Obama turn it around? He has to put someone on the ticket that can split the vote he has lost since Palin. While the obvious choice is Hillary; that will never happen. Obama would rather try again at a later date then have to deal with the Clintons. His ego will not allow what would be seen as a co-presidency with Hillary.
Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius is his answer to his Palin dilemma. His campaign knows it and it is being discussed in Democrat circles. They know they made a crucial mistake with Biden. They know that the next two months will see every Palin criticism responded to with an attack on Biden – his ethical issues, his plagiarism, his corrupt family issues and the fact that he has been in Washington for over 30 years and has done nothing but run for President or reelection in what has to be the cushiest Senate seat in the country – Senior Senator from that rest top on I-95, Delaware.
Sebelius would bring the ticket many opportunities. She comes from a well-known and respected Ohio family and while the right would disagree, she could go toe-to-toe with Palin on issues important to women, independents and those remaining Hillary supporters that have not moved to Obama’s camp. Obama is going to lose Ohio without her or someone like her. If Obama loses Ohio, he loses the election.
Think of past elections and how the public discovers after-the-fact how elections were pretty much decided shortly after the convention. An argument can be made that the debates don’t matter that much. Short a complete breakdown (read: Dukakis) the post-convention numbers will hold.
Also, think of how many elections we have seen where polling numbers in August and September had no reflection on the final results. Obama is down – don’t be fooled by the tracking polls of those organizations that skew their polls by including a percentage of Democrat voters to make sure the numbers stay within the range they want. The election is an 18-month production for the media and with two months to go, they are not ready to write off either candidate.
Bottom-line – Obama/Biden is doomed. Obama/Sebelius has a decent shot to win. But only if Barack puts his pride aside, admits his mistake and replaces Biden. Sarah Palin is going to embarrass Biden in the debates. If Obama fails to rectify this mistake, this election will go down as the most mismanaged in history.
A man who two months ago was being compared to everyone from MLK to JFK to Jesus Christ will be compared more to Michael Dukakis and Walter Mondale. He and his people will blame white America and Joe Biden but in all actuality, they will have only themselves to blame.