The Aaron Harber Show

Christmas Comes Early in Minnesota
Surprise, Alaska is no Longer in Play; Now it's Obama's to Lose

September 1, 2008
By Aaron Harber

Christmas came early to the Obama campaign when Senator John McCain selected Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential running mate. The choice removed George H.W. Bush's selection of Dan Quayle as the most befuddling of contemporary politics (remember, however, Bush won).

McCain's decision can only be explained in one way - Obama's campaign staff infiltrated the McCain campaign at the highest levels and has one or more people either running the McCain campaign [into the ground] or has the ear of the candidate himself. An FBI investigation should commence immediately.

Historically, this decision may be viewed as the ultimate "dirty trick" as pundits worldwide otherwise struggle to explain this absolutely bizarre decision. It likely will become known as the campaign's turning point - the decision which all but ended the presidential contest before the Labor Day holiday began (which typically signifies the start of the "real" campaign).

McCain's choice was bizarre for many reasons. First, he selected an unknown Governor who will help him pad a lead in the nation's least populated state - a state he would have won without visiting… a state whose nearly entire population is subsidized by oil money… a state whose size, character, and populace make it unlike any of its 49 compatriots.

Campaigns are about gathering and then allocating limited resources of money and time. Just as some argued Richard M. Nixon lost the 1960 presidential election by traveling to Alaska before his debate with John F. Kennedy in order to have visited all 50 states, McCain will go down in history for selecting his running mate from the same state. Who would have guessed Alaska would play such a prominent role in American presidential politics?

A vice-presidential pick should help the candidate win a state or region. He or she should help with a particular voter demographic (and one far larger than conservative, married white women who live in Alaska). He or she should complement the presidential nominee is a obvious manner which strengthens the ticket. Sarah Palin does none of these in a significant way.

Palin certainly cements McCain's popularity with conservative, evangelical Republicans due to her belief in Creationism, her unequivocal stand against all abortions, and her support of various church doctrines. But McCain ultimately had those votes anyway and, instead, wasted a key opportunity to appeal to the independent and unaffiliated voters he needs to win a majority of Electoral College votes.

Second, most of all, the V.P. selection should be someone you believe would be a great President. Your obligation to the nation is to pick the best person beside yourself to be President. Barack Obama at least can attempt make that argument for his selection of Joe Biden. John McCain cannot make that argument for Sarah Palin with a straight face.

Your obligation to your campaign (i.e., to becoming President in the first place) is to pick the candidate who helps you the most from the perspective of maximizing Electoral College votes. Sarah Palin qualifies for neither category. Palin's political positions put her in diametric opposition to those supporters of Hillary Clinton who otherwise might have supported McCain. Even the least astute political observer knows Clinton supporters who are women disenchanted with Obama are not going to vote for Palin simply because she is a woman. Palin's selection not only eliminates a potential Democratic electoral windfall for McCain but does Obama's dirty-work by unifying the Democratic Party.

Third, Palin's selection injures McCain's campaign by creating an even more stark contrast between the ages of the candidates. It calls greater attention to the fact McCain is 72 years old - 26 years more than Obama and 28 years more than Palin. Focusing on McCain's age is the worst approach the campaign could use given the substantial percentage of the electorate who considers his age a problem.

Fourth, McCain's selection of a 44 year-old woman with even less experience than McCain accuses Barack Obama of having totally undermines McCain's primary campaign theme attacking Obama for being inexperienced. If Barack Obama is "not ready to lead," Sarah Palin is not even in the game. There was a reason why Palin was not on anyone's short list - or even anyone's long list. Now, every time McCain attacks Obama for his lack of experience, it boomerangs right back to the McCain-Palin ticket. Palin's selection, in fact, makes the combined experience of the two tickets equal in many respects. McCain just wasted what perhaps was his trump card.

Fifth, Obama has fought back against McCain's claims the former has little experience by arguing what counts most is "good judgment." Obama uses examples such as McCain's support of the War in Iraq as reasons to question McCain's judgment. McCain's selection of Palin gives Obama fresh ammunition in his attacks on McCain.

It is absolutely astounding McCain would pick a running-mate he had met only one time prior to being considered. Unless the selection is an intentional misdirection play by McCain (although it heads his campaign in the wrong direction), the process by which Palin was selected can only serve to cast doubt on the standards and systems McCain would use in his presidency.

Sixth, the Republican field offered a wealth of potential running mates. Mitt Romney would have strengthened McCain's economic team and helped in battleground states such as Michigan. Joe Lieberman would have drawn Democratic support and likely helped with Jewish voters. The list is almost endless and Palin never was on it.

Seventh, Palin's likelihood of becoming President will result in greater examination by the electorate. Exacerbating the situation is the reality that Palin is far more likely to become President than Obama's vice-presidential nominee, Joe Biden, due to McCain's age and current health issues. In the past, this would be a minor concern but, with the nomination of the nation's oldest presidential candidate, voters will scrutinize the choice.

The ultimate question may be, "Is there an Obama mole in the McCain campaign who somehow convinced the Senator to make this selection?" Right now, no other explanation seems feasible.

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