Like most of the country, I’m still trying to figure out what I think about John McCain‘s pick of Alaska governor Sarah Palin to be his running mate. While it’s way too early to draw any real conclusions, here are a couple of thoughts on the matter:
Initially, I felt what Joseph Bottum at First Things called a “nervous joy” at the audacity of the Republicans deciding to forego playing it safe with Mitt Romney or some other stuffed shirt and choose a little-known (but likable and seemingly accomplished) woman in Palin. On the heels of the Democrats’ big shindig in Denver, I couldn’t believe the Republicans had a chance to keep the race even close (let alone interesting), nor did I think they would actually take it if they happened to think of one. But to come up with and take a chance implies risk, and as I processed the selection more, I confess some nervous doubts have surfaced.
Ed Morrissey at Hot Air has a good summary of rebuttals to many of the arguments the Left has already thrown at Palin, and I can go along with most of them easily enough. I do, however, find myself wondering with James Fallows on his Atlantic Monthly blog how long-term-looking McCain’s choice really was:
“The image to have in mind is not Dan Quayle: a person with quite a bit of grounding in national issues who was added to the ticket in an attempt to jazz it up. Always and only the comparison should be with Clarence Thomas — with this one interesting difference. Thomas was a shrewd choice not simply because his race made it more complicated for Democrats to oppose him but also because, once confirmed, all evidence suggested to conservatives that he’d be the kind of Justice they were looking for. In Palin’s case, this seems to be a choice that looks forward to Election Day, and not one day beyond that.”
Choosing Palin certainly makes McCain much more viable as a conservative candidate for the election, but it also highlights his age vulnerability as President. Maybe I’ve read one too many quotes about Palin being “one heartbeat away from the Presidency,” but let’s be honest: McCain at 72 in 2008 sure seems a lot more frail than McCain at 64 in 2000; if elected, I don’t think he’ll make it two terms, either due to a decision he makes or one his body makes for him. The result would be Palin becomes President, but it sure would be nice if she had at least a few years as Vice before that happens. This, in my mind, is the biggest risk of the gamble.
So far, at least, I like who Palin seems to be, as well as what she has seemed to get done in Alaska. It will be interesting to see what the media dig up on her (so far the worst seems to be the “TrooperGate” situation and a less-than-flattering basketball picture from the late-70s). I am interested as to if/how the whole “Sarah Palin is not the mother” rumor resolves, but since Palin seems as upright as she seems sharp, I find it hard to believe she would try to sneak that one by McCain and the national media.
Who will I vote for? My libertarian leanings (among other things) won’t allow me to jump on the Obama/Biden train – too much smoke and socialism there. Will I vote for the McCain/Palin ticket? Probably. Will I do so confidently? Confidently enough, I suppose, assuming nothing significant changes between now and November. Rest assured, regardless of who wins the election, God is not going to be surprised by the outcome, and that’s peace enough to avoid worrying about politics that will barely be a footnote in His story.