Friday, August 29, 2008

McCain’s VP Pick, Governor Sarah Palin

By Bernie Quigley

- for The Hill on 8/29/08

In his acceptance speech on Thursday night, Barack Obama made the point that John McCain voted with George Bush 90% of the time. Therefore, he’s only been right 10% of the time, Obama quipped.

It was a good and catchy line, but it is that 10% that makes McCain a maverick. And that maverick quality is what has always made McCain interesting and trusted by a large bi-partisan swath of Americans. What makes mavericks necessary and important is that they invest the rest of their party with flashes of insight and original thinking that the others are constitutionally incapable of experiencing. Mavericks are not hidebound and blinded by institutionalization and orthodoxy. They open new gates and horizons. And McCain has done just that in his choice of Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska, for his Vice President.

The choice of Palin came from McCain’s 10% - his maverick corner. I can’t think of any one else in the Republican run up who would have chosen her. It is such a perfect choice for McCain. And it might prove to be the best decision McCain has ever made in his life.

On the surface, it appears to pull in the Hillary karma and the decision to pick Palin was certainly leveraged by the Clinton candidacy. Yet Hillary supporters are unlikely to like Palin, who used to get up at 3 am with her father to hunt moose and is the mother of five.

But people who like Alaska or the idea of Alaska will like Palin and Alaska still hovers in the American consciousness as an undiscovered country of the mind.

This is no longer a race between one candidate who brings to mind John F. Kennedy and another following in Bush’s Wall St.-with-cowboy-boots theme, or rows of candidates on either side who might have been classmates and colleagues at Choate or St. Paul’s or fellow undergrads at Harvard, Georgetown or Wellesley, for that matter.

It is a new paradigm and one closer to that gate opened by Ronald Reagan. It is a distinctly Eastern view of the world in opposition to a distinct Western view of the world with the Western view emerging in a new tradition. It opens an entirely new political dialog in the country pitting the Eastern establishment and all of the institutional thinking and baggage that entails against the new mores of the West and the rising spirit of adventure on a frontier still free and open, independent and self reliant.

Way to change the channel, Senator!