If I were to have put money on any one candidate that John McCain would not pick, it would have been Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Three reasons: 1) She deflates McCain's most effective attack against Obama, the idea that he does not have the experience to be president. 2) She is under investigation, literally, right now (even if it all turns out clean, the Alaska Republican Party right now is a hotbed of indictments and corruption and picking someone up from the middle of all that seems ... odd). 3) McCain apparently had met her in person exactly once.
Barack Obama's selection of Joe Biden had none of those pitfalls--it wasn't Chris Dodd, who's got something mortgagy that can get played to death in the media; it wasn't Evan Bayh, whose voting record is a lot closer to McCain's than Obama's is; it wasn't Sam Nunn, who was far outside Obama's circle; and so on. In the end, Obama selected a friend, a long-time (well, four-year) ally, someone with the chops and wide-ranging expertise to both challenge and support Obama during key deliberations. In the end, I suppose you could say Joe Biden is exactly the opposite of Sarah Palin--which makes it strange that so many of the conservatives who nodded sagely that of course Biden was a reasonable pick for Obama are now ga-ga for Palin.
But in the end what strikes me most is the way the selection of Palin, who is a very far right-wing ideologue, is being celebrated because it connects McCain to his base. My initial reaction, once I knew it was ferreal, was to compare, in my head, Sarah Palin to Wisconsin second-district Representative Tammy Baldwin.
I know, I know, Palin is the only governor of Alaska and Baldwin is one of 435 Representatives. But consider: The population of the 2nd CD is about 670,000 (2000 data) and the population of Alaska is also about 670,000 (2000 data). Palin is a far-right social conservative, and Baldwin is a far-left (by American standards) social liberal. Neither has much foreign policy experience. Palin is a mother of five with a hard-working husband, while Baldwin is, um, not legally married. They are extremely similar cases for decidedly opposite parties.
But what would the reaction have been from the media or the right-wingnuts had Obama gone to his left for a relatively unknown pol like Baldwin? Certainly not the great outpouring of praise and adulation that McCain has gotten for his pick today.
Ah, well, such are the vagaries of the press and the wingers--it's okay if you're a Republican to pick an extremest to succeed you. Indeed, with the Cheney precedent, I suppose now it is expected.