Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Problem with Choosing Sarah Palin

Today’s theme at the convention is “Who is John McCain?” The question has become more or less abandoned recently. Over the last several days, gallons of ink–digital and otherwise–has been spilled over McCain’s vice presidential pick. Because Sarah Palin was relatively unknown in the national scene, reporters and bloggers have been spending a great deal of time trying to uncover her political history. Already, the minor scandals Troopergate and Babygate have bubbled up. Conservatives went on the defensive almost immediately trying to assure everyone that Palin has enough experience to be the vice presidential nominee.

By choosing someone with a relatively unknown past, the national attention has dropped from the top of the ticket to the bottom of it. Already Palin’s garnering louder cheers than McCain from some conservative groups. Although she brings energy to the ticket, especially from religious conservative voters, she has also energized the left because of her socially conservative positions. With such a controversial figure on the ticket, the debate has become more about Palin than the differences between the two parties.

It’s too early to say if this is going to be a lasting narrative in the campaign or a blip around the Republican National Convention. But it may be difficult to focus the campaign on the top of the ticket, even if the theme tonight is getting to know McCain.

Cross posted at Pushback.

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