Time: Why is everyone surprised by Palin pick?

posted at 8:52 am on August 30, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

John McCain has spent most of his career in the Senate as a reformer willing to buck his own party for change, and ran on that theme during the primaries.  Time’s Michael Grunwald and Jay Newton-Small look at the options for McCain for running mates in staying true to that theme, and wonder why everyone seemed so shocked that he chose Sarah Palin to join his ticket.  In retrospect, Palin was the only candidate who filled all of McCain’s needs and didn’t dilute his message:

John McCain needs to persuade swing voters that he’s willing to take on the Republican establishment. He needs to persuade conservatives that he isn’t squishy about social issues. And he needs to close the gender gap. When you think about it, the real surprise about Sarah Palin’s selection as his running mate is that it’s such a surprise.

Palin may be an obscure 44-year-old first-term governor and mother of five from tiny Wasilla, Alaska, but in many ways she reinforces John McCain’s narrative of a maverick conservative crusader. She’s risen to power by battling corruption in her own state’s Republican establishment, exposing misconduct by the state GOP chairman and challenging the incumbent GOP governor. She’s a committed Christian who’s pro-life in practice as well as in theory; she recently gave birth to a son that she knew would have Down Syndrome.

But Palin can help McCain through biography as well as resume. She’ll be the first woman on a Republican ticket, which the campaign is surely hoping will appeal to Hillary Clinton voters and help reduce Barack Obama’s advantage among women. She’s a fresh face to counteract Obama’s message of change, and she’s about as far outside the Beltway as you can get. A child of the middle class with a friendly face and big hair, she is so affable that she once won Miss Congeniality in a beauty pageant. Her son is about to deploy to Iraq. She’s an ice fisherman, a moose hunter, a small business owner and a lifetime NRA member. And she shelved her state’s pork-laden Bridge to Nowhere that McCain has ridiculed on the trail.

McCain had several options open to him in this choice, but none of them would have addressed all of the points that Palin does.  Tim Pawlenty is a Washington outsider and an Everyman too, but fortunately Minnesota has not been plagued with official corruption, and Pawlenty has not had to crusade for massive reform.  He has governed as an effective and strong center-right leader, but doesn’t have the dynamism of Palin.  Mitt Romney, who would have been my first choice, has a proven track record in both private and public sectors of strong leadership, but his compromises as governor of Massachusetts already had people calling him a flip-flopper on key points like abortion.  Also, Romney isn’t exactly an Everyman; although he is a Washington outsider, his wealth hardly gives the impression of one.

Palin is, in a way, Pawlenty with a ferocious record of reform.  She went after her own party’s state chair and exposed his corruption at the Oil and Natural Gas Commission.  Palin defied Ted Stevens and Don Young in refusing to accept the Bridge to Nowhere and told them that Alaska can build its own bridges.  Otherwise, like Pawlenty, she enjoys and excels in sports, has a young family, and prior to entering the governor’s mansion lived in a solidly middle-class home.  Palin is, as Pawlenty often points out, more Sam’s Club than country club.

For a candidate who wants to run on a platform of change and reform, Palin fills the prescription perfectly.  Not only has she not spent more than three decades immersed in Washington politics, she already has a proven track record of attacking corruption wherever she finds it — even in her own party.  As Time says, Palin provides everything McCain needs in a partner for his mission of reform.

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“…So, even though he is not in a position to give it, McCain promises American support and aid? This is woefully naive of his role as a Senator, that is, not getting involved in foreign policy matters. Send_Me on August 30, 2008 at 11:51 AM

What did St. Mc say…?

“We’re all Georgians today…”

The Saint knows where his “bread is buttered”… just follow the money; Senator McCain you dah babe…!

“…McCain has also fed that impression; last April, he got on the phone with the president of Georgia and expressed his solidarity – after a briefing with top foreign policy advisor Randy Scheunemann, a neoconservative whose private lobbying firm signed a contract this spring to provide Georgia with strategic advice…

J_Gocht on August 31, 2008 at 6:06 PM

D0WNT0WN on August 31, 2008 at 2:38 AM

Really good job on that video – great photos and the music is perfect.

sloopy on August 31, 2008 at 9:34 PM

Thank G_d there are men like John McCain as fools have someone to compare themselves to and have a hint as to their direction for personal development.

mbabbitt on September 1, 2008 at 12:35 AM

Perhaps the surprise is related to this video. You know, those designer glasses seem to raise her IQ:


bayam on September 1, 2008 at 1:28 AM

Great minds think alike…

Both McCain and Palin admit; Iraq is a war for oil.

Finally some truth to power…!

J_Gocht on September 1, 2008 at 9:51 AM

Why is everyone surprised by Palin pick?

…becauset it is one of the most (and rare) intelligent decisions he has made during his entire campaign.

Lawrence on September 1, 2008 at 10:42 AM

a war for oil? yeah maybe the invasion of Georgia is the same thing. Countries unfortuntely run on oil. Go over a flip your lightswitch. Did the light come on. Is the computer your reading this on running on wall power? well, be freakin thankful

johnnyU on September 1, 2008 at 3:29 PM

Comment pages: 1 2 3