Two weeks ago my son-in-law and daughter came to visit my wife and me when we were taking a long weekend. He has worked in politics much of his life –- Democratic politics. Within an hour or so of his arrival the discussion inevitably got around to whom we thought might be the Vice-Presidential nominees.
"Friends of mine are thinking there’s a real chance it will be Sarah Palin," he said. It took me a minute to remember who he was talking about, and then I remembered the newly elected Governor of Alaska. Her race had been "one of the ones to watch" on election night 2006.
"Palin?" I said with some incredulity.
I was saying the same thing this morning. "Palin?"
The lesson may be: always trust your son-in-law.
I have to admit I am totally surprised by the choice. It is a long-shot pick by John McCain -– a "Hail Sarah" pass as one Obama campaign official put it to George Stephanopoulos. Will the country buy someone as Vice President who has less than two years in a Governorship? Who just a few years ago was mayor of a small Alaskan town of 9,000 souls?
She is a real maverick in Alaska politics –- she accused two fellow Republicans of corruption and when no one would listen she quit a prestigious post on the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. Eventually the two accused were thrown out of office, enhancing her reputation in Alaskan politics to no end, and eventually leading to her being elected Governor. So she’s obviously no nonsense. She’s on the right side of all causes that are important to conservatives, and she actually favors more drilling for oil and gas on Alaskan property than does McCain. But will Hillary supporters vote McCain because there’s a woman on his ticket? Will other voters accept the idea of a 44-year-old Vice President with so little experience?
You can argue Obama has only four years in a major political job and he hasn’t really been in Washington for the last two of those years since he’s been out campaigning.
This election just gets more and more interesting.
Everyone on the planet, it seems, has delivered their verdict on the Obama speech. So I won’t take much time to add one more opinion. When I first read the speech about half an hour before air, I didn’t think it was terrific. Good. Solid. But not great, and not soaring in its rhetoric. The delivery, however, made it so much better than it read, and the significance of coming on the 45th anniversary of the King "I Have a Dream" speech made it all the more significant.
John Kerry was criticized for not "going after" George Bush enough in the 2004 convention. Barack Obama certainly could not be criticized for the same thing. The speech was a direct challenge to John McCain.
The wonderful part of the evening for me was the two hours or so preceding the speech. Many of the 80,000 in attendance got to the stadium hours early. They had to, in order to be assured of getting through security, which seemed to take forever. So there they all were. The campaign provided great music inside the stadium and everyone was dancing in the aisles. Literally. Those of us on the ABC platform were doing the same. Well, just a little. It was kind of a party before the serious business of the evening, and to see that many people in that good a mood was infectious.
As much as we were all there for the speech, I kind of hated to see the music stilled, everyone sit down, and the party atmosphere come to a close.
After the speech we flew back to New York, arriving here at three in the morning. We came back quickly so as to be ready to do "special reports" on the McCain choice of his Vice Presidential nominee and to broadcast the rally in Dayton that would feature the first joint appearance of McCain and Palin.
Now it’s off to St. Paul over the weekend.