McCain has finally made his choice of who he wants as a running mate, and I think he surprised everyone -- especially the news media. As late as last night, I heard media talking heads saying he had chosen Tim Pawlenty (the Republican governor of Minnesota). But McCain threw everyone a curve today and chose the governor of Alaska -- Sarah Palin. I don't think the media even realized she was being vetted for the position.
There are two reasons why Palin might be a good pick for McCain, and two reasons why she is a very surprising and possibly weak pick. McCain has still not excited the Republican right-wing evangelical base. Palin might actually help him to get out this base. They would not have voted Democratic, but they might have stayed home on election day.
But Palin is an anti-choice, anti-gay marriage, very right-wing, evangelical, social conservative in the mold of George Bush. Her choice will probably make the socially-conservative base and the party's large contributors very happy, especially the big oil companies since she is in favor of opening the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.
It looks like McCain also thinks picking Palin may help him to get some disillusioned Hillary Clinton voters -- those who voted for her because she was a woman and didn't care what she stood for or believed in (the PUMAs).
He looks at Hillary's 18 million votes and thinks the PUMAs are a large group. They are not. There may be a few thousand, but that is a negligible number when you consider the total number of voters. The overwhelming majority of Clinton's voters will do as she has asked and vote Democratic.
One reason this pick surprised me was the fact that McCain has been pounding Obama on the issue of whether he has enough experience to be president, and then he picks a running mate with far less experience than Obama -- and with McCain's age and health problems, Palin may actually have to finish his term if he is elected.
Palin has absolutely no experience with national or world problems, and only two years of experience with government on the state level (and even that is in a state with a very small population). By making this pick, McCain has made his own prior pronouncements about experience look foolish.
The other reason this pick is surprising is because of Governor Palin's ethics issues. She currently is being investigated by the Alaskan Legislature for possible misuse of her official powers. She has been accused of firing the Public Safety Commissioner because he would not fire a state trooper (her brother-in-law) who her family was unhappy with. It is strange that McCain would pick Palin while this investigation is continuing.
Was this a good pick? Only the November election will answer that question.