There is always predictable political spin to any event. To see what people really think, one must examine indirect indicators.

Today, Senator John McCain tapped Alaska Governor Sarah Palin for the vice-presidential end of the Republican ticket. Among Democratic supporters there was surprise and concern that that Palin would be able to appeal those female voters who perceive  that Senator Barack Obama “dissed” Senator Hillary Clinton. Before the announcement, Conservatives were grudgingly and reluctantly coming to support McCain, mostly on the basis of their fear of the very liberal  Obama. Largely resigned to a losing this fall, Conservatives were heartened by the addition of this attractive, articulate, vice-presidential candidate. It fun to watch the news once again. What would have been a predictable Republican Convention next week, will now be doubly energized.

Some say that this was a desperation “Hail Mary” pass in the last moments of the fourth quarter of a football game. This is the wrong sports analogy. The selection was more aptly described as “swinging for the fences” in a baseball game: an aggressive move, but not one motivated out of fear.

Governor Palin brings important attributes. She is socially Conservative, a mother of five (one of whom will be deployed to Iraq in September), with a lifetime membership to the National Rifle Association. She is pro-life and backed up her theoretical opposition to abortion with her recent decision to give birth to a child even though she knew that he would be challenged by Down’s Syndrome. She has a populist sensibility having rooted out corruption in Alaskan state government and decline the pork-barrel “bridge to nowhere.” Recently, when tax revenues to the state from oil companies operating in Alaska increased with the rise in oil prices, she returned the cash directly to the people of Alaska with individual checks.

Despite her many positives, there remain legitimate concerns. She has not been vetted on the national scene. Though she was surely carefully examined by McCain’s investigators, she has not been subject to the scrutiny of the national press extremely adept finding embarrassing personal histories. We may yet find an ugly skeleton in Palin’s so far a pretty clean closet. Although she acquitted herself well in her speech after having been selected by McCain and has articulately expressed her ideas on Washington interview programs, she has not faced a press as ferocious as the Washington one.

Palin has been a governor for a couple of years and can be faulted for her lack of her experience in international affairs. Hence lies a trap for the Democrats. She is a least as experienced as Obama and the more an issue is made of her inexperience, the easier it is to remind Americans of the paper thinness of Obama resume. Obama’s key executive experience is running a thus far successful political campaign. This certainly speaks well of Obama’s political acumen, but not necessary of his governing competence. Democrats will be wise to avoid criticism of Palin’s experience. If she is indeed too inexperienced, it will show in the coming weeks without Democrats having to draw attention to  it.

Governor Palin’s first impression has been excellent. Her speech on behalf of Senator McCain in Dayton Ohio was confidently and persuasively delivered. Her direct appeal to woman voters was disarming and depressed previously confident Democrats. She, nonetheless, has many more challenges ahead. If, over the course of the time until the election, she appears to be in over her head, McCain’s pick will appear to be a patronizing and embarrassing one. The Republicans may stunted the growth of a future leader before she had a chance to flower. On the other hand, if she acquits herself well, McCain’s choice will seem inspired. Regardless of the outcome of the election, if she is seen to have helped the McCain candidacy she will be an important new Republican politician. At this point, the pick deserves a tentative, “Wow.”

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