- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 30, 2008


Sen. John McCain should be thrilled with the Washington crowd’s lukewarm reaction to his running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin, in an election about change; they are exactly the sort of folks he should want to be miffed.

If Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. was the “Dick Cheney” pick for Democrats for vice president - an older, experienced Washington hand - then Mrs. Palin, the 44-year-old governor of Alaska, is Mr. McCain’s own version of Sen. Barack Obama: a youthful agent of change to balance out Mr. McCain’s own time in Washington.

In other words, I’ll see your “change” and raise you “shake up.”

“I’ve spent the last few months looking for a running mate who can best help me shake up Washington and make it start working again for the people that are counting on us,” Mr. McCain said in announcing Mrs. Palin as his running mate in Dayton, Ohio, on Friday. “I found someone with an outstanding reputation for standing up to special interests and entrenched bureaucracies.”

In the hours after her selection, newspapers quoted some unnamed Republican strategists and congressional aides griping - but Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, the Republicans’ chief deputy whip, said a tepid Washington welcome only bolsters Mrs. Palin’s reform credentials.

“Sarah Palin vetoed the Alaska portion of the money for the Bridge to Nowhere. That sort of reflects who she is - she is going to shake things up in Washington,” he said. “Frankly, that’s what America wants.”

“I think it’s an epic choice,” he said.

She doesn’t have major foreign policy experience, has not had the years of vetting by a national press corps that Washington politicians have had, and faces on ongoing investigation into the disciplining of a state trooper involved in a custody battle with her sister.

What she does have, put simply, is a history-making candidacy, a made-for-politics personal story and the reformer’s credentials to allow Mr. McCain to go head-to-head with Mr. Obama’s message of change.

She unseated a sitting Republican governor in a primary by running against the Republican establishment in Alaska. If anything, her zeal for busting pork-barrel spending may outstrip Mr. McCain’s. And she’s spent her time in office fighting for ethics reform.

For Mr. McCain, running against the head wind created by President Bush’s unpopularity, he must hope some of Mrs. Palin’s anti-establishment credentials rub off on him.

With one swift move Mr. McCain managed to sweep the powerful images from Mr. Obama’s Thursday night nomination acceptance speech off the television screens and replace them with Mrs. Palin and her family on stage in Dayton - minus her oldest son, who she reminded her audience is poised to deploy to Iraq with the U.S. Army in two weeks.

Still, the risks are plentiful.

Her political resume is incredibly slight when compared with that of Mr. Biden. And she has spent her time in government far from the vetting eyes of the Washington press corps, meaning there will be plenty of digging that could turn up something.

Story Continues →