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The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

Palin, Who?

Luke Evans
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Aug 29, 2008

DENVER–I was in an ungodly line checking in my baggage at the Denver International Airport when I got the news that I would not be writing a piece on former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, with whom I spent a considerable amount of time with a few years back for a magazine piece and whom I believed, truly believed, Sen. John McCain would select as his running mate on the Republican Presidential ticket.

Instead, I found myself suddenly in panic mode, trying to do a Cliff Notes evaluation of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who, next week will accept the vice presidential nomination for her party. I was not alone. Democratic delegates and officials standing in line were all asking each other about Palin, whom at 44 years old is in her first-term of governor of our 49th state.

By choosing Palin, McCain has helped create a race of opposite, but strangely similar imagery. On one hand you have Sens. Barack Obama and Joe Biden–the young, dashing newcomer to Washington supported by the battle-tested force of experience and steadiness. On the Republican side you have the transverse–the decorated war hero and creature of Washington matched with his own young sidekick. For those comic and science fiction geeks, which includes not only myself but also my colleague Spencer Ackerman, think of it as Batman and Alfred vs. Giles, the watcher, and Buffy, the Vampire Slayer.

It is a truism that image means more and more in presidential politics. And by picking Palin, McCain has created a self-made image problem that he will have to deal with for the campaign’s duration. Already the sight of McCain and Palin campaigning together brings back the echoes of George H.W. Bush and Dan Quayle. But it was a risk–presumably made in an effort to siphon off disaffected Hillary Rodham Clinton supporters–that McCain was willing to make.

That’s because in truth, none of the possibilities tossed around for the pick would work with McCain. To pick pseudo-Democrat Joe Lieberman would bring about an internal wrath within the Republican Party that we have never seen. The sight of McCain and Romney would look like a before-and-after commercial for a tanning bed. And the choice of Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty would create the same image issues of Palin without the upside of a possible surge among women voters.

How the party will receive Palin remains unclear. She is Biden’s opposite in many ways, a new face in American politics whose story is totally unknown. During the next week, the McCain campaign will have to do a hard sell to a conservative base already not thrilled about McCain being the current symbolic leader of the party. But she might very well be the historic answer to Obama the Republicans need. As the first woman selected to run on the GOP ticket, Palin will be making history of her own. The Democrats have their great symbol for the American future. Perhaps in Palin the Republicans have theirs.

Luke Evans | My name is Luke Evans, and I work as a Web Developer. I am a professional coder and programmer who enjoys contributing to the exciting technical advancements. In 2016, I received a Bachelor's Degree in Software Development from California Institute of Technology. For my outstanding academic performance and leadership abilities while in school, I received the Edmund Gains Award in 2015.


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