John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska, as his running mate in the 2008 presidential election is, in my mind, an inspired choice, one that I've been hoping for ever since Jonah Goldberg first started touting her in National Review a few months ago. As many have already pointed out, it's a risky move, but one that can pay off richly in the end. She's young and relatively inexperienced, but it will be difficult for the media to make that point without highlighting the fact that Barack Obama is (a) almost as young and just as inexperienced, and (b) running for president, not vice president. It also remains to be seen how well-informed she is and how well she thinks on her feet in a debate on national television. (Regardless, the smarmy Joe Biden had better tread lightly around her; if he insults her or is condescending to her, he could easily throw the election to McCain.)
However, beyond the issues of experience and debating ability, I see nothing but upside to the Palin pick. One, she's an attractive and obviously intelligent woman, who not only presents a fresh, pretty face to the voting public but highlights the fact that there is no woman, pretty or otherwise, on the Dem ticket. (Her being a conservative woman will raise the hackles of certain feminists, and all other far-left elements, who regard a woman's being conservative as the very worst sort of blood betrayal, but this is a question of appealing to the moderate middle, not the loony Left.) Two, she's ardently pro-life (and even has a Down Syndrome child), which will excite the conservative base and draw a sharp contrast with the extreme-left policies of the opposition respecting abortion. Three, she's an anti-waste and anti-corruption crusader from a jurisdiction known for waste and malfeasance, which points up the fact that Obama, far from being a crusader, is actually a product of the even-more-corrupt Chicago political machine.
Four, being from Alaska, she's guaranteed to be more of an authority on energy policy and resources than the opposition, and she's on the right/realistic side of both expanded domestic oil and gas drilling (especially in ANWR) and the development of alternative energy sources. Five, she's an avid hunter and a lifetime NRA member, which is sure to appeal to the sort of working-class white voters who voted for Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries. Six, her husband Todd is at least part Native American, plus he's a blue-collar fisherman and oilfield worker who races snowmobiles -- no Teresa Heinz Kerry, he! And seven, like McCain himself, she has a son serving in the Armed Forces who will be deployed shortly to Iraq; which at least gives her some personal stake in the U.S.'s Middle East policy.
Only time will tell if McCain's choosing Governor Palin as his running mate is a home run, but it certainly cements his reputation as a bold "maverick" -- Obama's choice of Joe Biden suddenly looks wussy by comparison. It's really shaping up to be an exciting election now!