I was as amazed as anybody when John McCain announced his running mate would be Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. But like millions of other Americans, I was blown away by the choice following her acceptance speech in St Paul. I didn't know a lot about her before that, but by the time she was finished speaking, I knew what I needed to know.
When she ad-libbed the joke, "What's the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull?" before answering, "Lipstick," I realized what a brilliant pick she had been for the McCain ticket. Despite the protests to the contrary, its pretty clear that the Obama campaign was blind-sided by the choice.
For reasons nobody could logically articulate, Obama passed over Hillary Clinton, who received 18 million votes in the primary, to select Joe Biden, whose presidential effort garnered less than 10,000 votes nationwide. Obama won the nomination on his promise to bring change to Washington. Joe Biden is a perennial presidential candidate who first came to Washington as the senator from Delaware when Sarah Palin was in the second grade.
Sarah Palin, whose two years as governor of Alaska give her two years more executive experience than the entire Democratic ticket, turned out to be a natural fit for the "change" ticket – John McCain, the Republican so bipartisan in his reputation that John Kerry once considered him as running mate, with Sarah Palin, the newcomer and reformer who drove the money-changers from Alaska's legislative temple.
Obama's strong suit as an "agent of change" was his youth and inexperience. He nullified that by choosing Joe Biden. Obama's other strong suit was his minority status. No matter what charge was hurled against him, he could deflect it by claiming it was racially motivated. By selecting Sarah Palin, the sexist card nullified the racist card, putting both sides on a level playing field.
In the wake of the Palin nomination, it seems that the Democrats are beginning to suffer some buyer's remorse. If Obama had only chosen Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin's star would have quickly lost its luster.
Instead, it is Obama who is on the defensive. The other day, Obama told a group of supporters that McCain's co-opting of his campaign slogan, "Change," was like putting "lipstick on a pig. It's still a pig."
Whether Obama meant to compare Gov. Palin to a pig is largely irrelevant. As far as those millions of American women who were still sitting on the fence was concerned, it was all they needed to hear.
The feminist movement has been among the most reliable mainstays of the Democratic Party since Roe v. Wade. Genuine feminists (excluding the National Order of Liberal Democrats Who Are Also Women) who felt Hillary Clinton got a raw deal began to flock to the McCain campaign. Even former vice presidential candidate and reliably liberal Geraldine Ferraro suggested she might vote for a McCain-Palin ticket over that of Obama-Biden.
One of Sen. Biden's most enduring qualities is his tendency to say things he wishes he hadn't. Already so far, he's referred to his running mate as "Barack America," referred to a future administration as a "Biden administration" and who last week at a rally shouted out to Missouri State Sen. Chuck Graham, "Chuck, stand up, let people see you." (Sen. Graham is confined to a wheelchair.)
But while Biden's reputation for being a one-man verbal wrecking crew is well-known, yesterday's supposed gaffe may not have been. While in Nashua, N.H., Biden told the crowd, "Hillary Clinton is as qualified or more qualified than I am to be vice president of the United States. … Quite frankly, it might have been a better pick than me." (Ya think?)
Today, Senator Obama met with former President Bill Clinton in NYC to map out future campaign strategy. All the signs seem to point to a surprise substitution to combat the Palin Factor.
Admittingly, I'm only speculating, but my guess is that we've not seen the last of Hillary Rodham Clinton.