Memories from the back of the bus

When I traveled with Senator McCain last November, just about the first question he answered was, what will you look for in a running mate. McCain responded that, first and foremost, he would want someone already qualfied to be president. Second, he said that because the economy is not his strong-suit, he would want someone with strong expertise in this area.

McCain did not say he wanted someone who would appeal to a potentially disaffected constituency within the Democratic party, or call attention (in an ironic way) to the inexperience of the Democratic nominee, or make such a splash as to counteract any Democratic convention bounce, or create a contrast to the Democratic vice presidential nominee, or “shake up” the Republican party, or “freshen up” the ticket, or reinforce his image as an opponent of corruption.

Neither the reporters on the bus nor this rube blogger was naive enough to conclude from McCain’s answer that political considerations would not enter into his decision. But I did not expect that political considerations would entirely trump the only two criteria McCain articulated that day.

Yet it seems to me that this is what happened when McCain selected a running mate with 18 months of experience as a governor and (to my knowledge) no special expertise in economics.

UPDATE: A reader who shares my concern about Palin’s lack of experience points out that, as to economic expertise, she has strong credibility on domestic energy development, “the single biggest economic issue of the day.” This is a good, valid point.

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