Before getting into the nuts and bolts of this column, I would be remiss if I did not thank Rush Limabaugh for all of the help he has given to our movement in the last few days. Mega dittos, El Rushbo!
Now for the actual column.
There has been a lot of talk lately saying that Gov. Palin would be a good VP nominee only if Hillary Clinton comes back to win the Democratic nomination. However, I actually think that the Governor would be even better against a ticket led by Barack Obama, a belief that I held long before the Senator from Illinois became the Dems’ frontrunner. I persevered in this effort because I thought that Palin would also be a very effective choice against Clinton, but I am absolutely ecstatic that we now have the opportunity to put her up against an Obama-led ticket.
Here’s why: Sarah Palin is, in my opinion, a very similar candidate to Barack Obama in terms of her demeanor, youth, message of hope, and massive popularity. The difference is that Palin actually has close to a decade of experience as an executive in state and local government. She has actually PRODUCED change. Obama, on the contrary, has never been an executive. Gov. Palin has built an impressive record of accomplishments during her years in government, while Obama subsists mainly on his oratory skills…and I will take that matchup any day of the week.
If what I’ve heard during the last year has been any indication, the main criticism leveled at Palin in a Vice Presidential campaign would be that she is “inexperienced” based on her relatively short time as Governor. I actually like this criticism because it is easily refuted by listing all of the major proposals that Palin has passed in the last year (ethics reform, AGIA, ACES, etc.) Any shots taken at Palin’s short gubernatorial tenure will boomerang back to the less-experienced Obama and smack him in the face. Furthermore, if Obama picks an experienced old hand for VP (which he probably will), the McCain-Palin campaign could easily claim that the Democrats have their ticket upside-down!
I don’t believe in identity politics - which is why I supported putting up Palin against Clinton, even though it might not impact the female vote. However, from a purely practical standpoint, running a woman makes far more sense if the opposition is running an all-male ticket. Had I been more Machiavellian in this regard, I would have supported running an African-American VP against Hillary and saving a female VP for the off-chance that Obama might win. Yet, now it appears that picking a candidate on principle could also lead us into the best possible situation with regard to demographics.
Governor Palin is the perfect candidate to take on Barack Obama. She’s a fresh face with a message of hope, but she has the record to back it up. On top of that, her popularity among Alaskans (over 80% approval) reaches levels that would flabbergast even the Obama machine. Dimitri Vassilaros, a columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, gave me my first media interview last summer (boy, was I nervous for that one. Still the harshest questions I’ve gotten to date, and most of my better answers didn’t make print). Anyway, his column coined the term “The Palin Effect” to describe the impact that the Governor can have on people. I think he was spot on in using that phrase, because Palin is one of the few leaders who can create not only a base of support, but an electoral phenomenon. And personally, I think that the Palin Effect just might be the antidote to Obamamania.