I find it more than a little amusing how the choice of Sarah Palin has given people on the other side of the partisan divide a serious case of intellectual whiplash. Up until now, anytime that Barack Obama’s experience was questioned, the reply from Obama partisans would be something along the lines of “Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld had tons of experience and they ran the country into the ground!“
Now, with Palin, experience is evidently important again–unless the experience argument is used to criticize the Obama candidacy.
Get it? Heads, Obama wins. Tails, McCain and Palin lose. But of course. And to be sure, far, far, far fewer people were bleating on and on and on about how they were newfound devotees of experience when Tim Kaine’s name was in the running as a potential Vice Presidential candidate for Obama. I am sorry, do the people who have suddenly decided to lash themselves to the mast of Experience not know that we have Google and can call shenanigans on their hypocrisy?
Of course, there is a reason for all of this piling on Palin’s candidacy: I have often said that Vice Presidential picks carry little to no electoral weight but mine is a distinctly minority view and to the extent that my view is wrong, Palin’s selection could bode very badly indeed for Obama. It could help peel away disaffected Hillary voters and even if a minority are peeled away or become conflicted enough to want to stay home instead of vote for Obama, it could make all the difference in the world in a close election. As a dramatic choice, Palin’s selection helped stomp and tromp all over the news cycle–a news cycle that would otherwise have been devoted to waxing rhapsodic about Obama’s acceptance speech on Thursday night. Needless to say, the Obama people are not happy about that–and it showed in their intemperate response to the Palin selection. Palin is a reformer and a change agent in Alaska, having challenged the state GOP on the issue of corruption and having beaten establishment Alaska Republicans in order to become Governor and implement her message of change. And as a fresh face who is not from Washington, DC, she messes with Obama’s “change” game significantly.
The election will be won by the two candidates at the top of their respective tickets. But in a close election–as this one is increasingly shaping up to be–little things can help win the White House. And if Sarah Palin’s selection is the game changer that a lot of factors indicate it could be, this surprise decision may well be the one that John McCain thanks in the event that he is able to win the Presidency.