McCain's August Surprise
By John D. Turner
2 Sep 2008

It was down to the wire. Everyone knew that McCain would choose soon. The Republican Convention was slated to begin on the 1st of September – and rumor had it that he would announce before then. The media had pretty much narrowed it down to Mitt Romney, the former Governor of Massachusetts, and Governor Tim Pawlenty, the governor of Minnesota.

Romney, it was argued, would put Michigan (17 electoral votes) and who knows, maybe even Massachusetts (12 electoral votes) into play for the Republicans. His dad was governor of Michigan and he too is well respected in that state. Michigan, which hasn’t voted Republican since 1988, (for Ronald Reagan) is currently either leaning Democrat or undecided, depending on the source. Massachusetts? Well, they went for Reagan in both his terms, but one could argue that to be an aberration. They have been solidly blue since.

In addition, it is argued that Romney’s fund-raising capability is a plus, as is his expertise in the financial arena, an area which McCain admitted during the primary debates is a weak spot for him. Adding Romney to the ticket, according to some, would balance it nicely.

Pawlenty on the other hand, puts Minnesota (10 electoral votes) into play, another state that has consistently voted Democrat back to at least 1980. In 1984 it and Washington DC were the only two out of the entire country that did not back Ronald Reagan in his second term. As of now, Minnesota is in the leaning Democrat/undecided camp as well, again depending on which source you check.

Pawlenty’s conservative credentials are solid, unlike Romney’s, whom many consider a flip-flopper; particularly on the ever-sensitive abortion issue. Additionally Pawlenty, a Catholic-turned Protestant evangelical, is a “conventional” Christian, not a Mormon, making him far more palatable to evangelicals, and potentially giving him appeal to Catholics as well.

But politicians, not political pundits ultimately make the choice. And McCain, in true maverick fashion, chose neither. Nor did he choose anyone else that the mainstream media had put forth as a possible nominee. Instead, McCain, on Friday, chose Sarah Palin, the Governor of Alaska to be his running mate in 2008.

Sarah Palin? Governor of Alaska? With its grand total of, count them, three electoral votes it would have to be a very close election for those votes to matter. In fact, Alaska has voted Republican in every election since 1980 (perhaps even back to statehood for all I know), so securing Alaska’s vote certainly was not the reason for the pick.

To be honest, I had heard the name before. Once. Glenn Beck interviewed Sarah Palin back in June, primarily about tapping Alaska’s vast resources. He did ask her if she had considered or been talked to by anyone concerning running as McCain’s VP, but I don’t think even he actually thought she would get the job; certainly it took the MSM by surprise.

So why would McCain pick Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska, a state that is not even properly “fly-over country”, but more like “fly-around country”? The only time Alaska gets press is when we are discussing drilling in ANWAR, or when some liberal wants to get all dewy-eyed about polar bears (which are doing just fine up there, along with the caribou and moose, thank you very much).

Obviously, because he felt that having her on the ticket would increase his chances of being elected president. Why does any presidential candidate pick the person they pick for VP?

So who is Sarah Palin? Two term city council member and two term mayor of Wasilla, a suburb of Anchorage, she is also not only Alaska’s first female governor, but also, at 42, the youngest elected in Alaskan history.

Her ascent to the governor’s mansion is noteworthy in that she unseated the incumbent Republican in the primary, and won the election against her Democrat opponent and former two-term governor Anthony Knowles by nearly 8 percentage points despite being outspent. Alaska law does not limit the number of terms you can serve as governor, but it does impose a two consecutive term limit. Knowles had been governor from 1994-2002, winning his second term in 1998 by a landslide. 2006 was his first opportunity to run again – and Sarah defeated him.

According to a Hayes Research poll on 28 July 2008, Palin’s approval rating stood at 80 percent; a number any politician would envy. A 31 Jul 2008 Rasmussen poll showed 35 percent of Alaskans rating her performance as excellent, 29 percent good, 22 percent fair and 14 percent rated her poor.

My personal opinion? I like her. As you may have gathered from some of my previous articles, I was having serious difficulties convincing myself to pull the lever for John McCain who is not my favorite politician by a long shot. Even had he selected Mitt Romney as his running mate, I still had deep reservations. In fact, I am quite relieved that he did not select Mitt. Sarah Palin, however, has me excited.

I had just about resigned myself to voting McCain anyway, simply because I believe an Obama presidency would be an unmitigated disaster. Nothing against Obama personally; I just can’t stomach the idea of a left-wing socialist (if not outright Marxist) in combination with a left wing congress running the country for four or even (shudder) eight years. I am now more enthusiastic in my support.

I understand that we are electing a president; you don’t vote for the president based on who they select as VP. The VP comes along as part of the package. Most VPs don’t have much in the way of power. Their job is to sit around and be ready to take over should the president become incapacitated or die in office. If a VP has any power at all, it is only as much as the President allows them, and any policy decisions or other political actions are in concert with the President’s policies not their own. However, from what I have seen, Sarah Palin is exactly the sort of person that a conservative like myself would like to see in office, and even if the ticket loses, this can only propel her forward to bigger and better things in the future, such as a congressional seat, cabinet position, or perhaps even the presidency at some future date.

>From watching her on TV she seems very well spoken. She has the ability to talk off-the-cuff without a teleprompter. She is intense and focused. She’s “real”. And she is extremely easy on the eyes which, while not a precondition for office, certainly doesn’t hurt. And before you hang the “sexist” moniker on me, isn’t one of the selling points I keep hearing about Barak Obama that he is young and handsome? (Or as Joe Biden, his running mate put it “…articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy”.)

Perhaps the most interesting thing about McCain’s selection is what the left has to say about her. You would think they would be happy that the Republican’s have chosen a woman as their VP candidate. But no. They are accusing McCain of choosing her as a political move.

Well duh! Doesn’t every president choose their running mate based on how they think they will help them politically? Obviously, McCain did a calculation and decided that instead of going for a particular state, such as Michigan or Minnesota as has been the political calculus in the past, he would take a new tact and go for the women’s vote across the board. Makes sense, particularly in a race which is as close as this, where a handful of votes in key states could make all the difference.

Had Obama chosen Hillary as his running mate, things might be different. But he didn’t. And not only did he not choose Hillary, but, as a slap in the face to Hillary and her supporters, he didn’t even consider her as his pick. This is evidenced by the fact that she was never even vetted for the position.

The Left is now screaming that McCain only picked her because she is a woman. Does that mean that as a woman, she is unqualified? Their party passed over their female candidate in favor of dreary, more-of-the-same Joe Biden, who no one can claim is not a Washington insider.

And McCain? The “third Bush term” candidate as the left likes to paint him chose someone who definitely breaks the mold. Someone who no one can claim is an insider; someone who is such an outsider that her state isn’t even physically connected to the lower 48. A state that can creditably claim to be America’s final frontier on this planet; where life is more like it was 100 years ago than anywhere else in the country.

What this means is that in Alaska, people are more in touch with what the founding fathers meant when they penned the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution because the environment they live in is as close as you can get to that of the founders. In Alaska, you don’t look at pictures of polar bears and fantasize about how cute and cuddly they look; you worry about the possibility that they might consider you breakfast.

What makes Sarah Palin different isn’t that she is a woman. Only the left prattles on about such things as if they really mean anything. Conservatives don’t have a problem with women in leadership positions. We have grown up with examples like Golda Meyer, Margaret Thatcher, and our mother’s for that matter.

What makes Sarah Palin different is that she is genuine. She is a fighter. She has made her career battling corruption in her own party. She is not your typical politician; she’s more like a typical American. Or what we perceive a typical American to be.

Even her 17 year old daughter, pregnant out of wedlock by her fiancé, is a problem of family life that millions of Americans can relate to. Here too, the left misses the point. It isn’t the problem that is a problem. We all have problems. It’s how the problem is handled that is important.

Sarah Palin was an outstanding choice for VP on many levels. It’s the sort of choice I would never have credited McCain of making. It gives me more confidence in his judgment in the future.