Palin, Not Pawlenty?

I’ve suspected for a while that Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty would be John McCain’s choice for VP, but it’s not to be. Pawlenty told a local radio station this morning that he’s heading for the Minnesota State Fair, not Dayton, Ohio. “You can draw your own conclusions,” he added.

Meanwhile, CNN is reporting that Sarah Palin flew from Anchorage to Dayton last night. If that’s right, it looks like she’s the choice. More on that later.

UPDATE: OK, it’s later. I’m worried about Palin. I’m afraid she may be the Geraldine Ferraro of 2008. If she really is the nominee, will it come across as a desperation move, a Hail Mary, as Mondale’s choice of Ferraro did in 1984? I’m afraid so. Her experience just doesn’t justify a place on the ticket. If McCain really wanted to go radical, Bobby Jindal was the far sounder choice–but maybe Jindal turned him down, on the theory that he needs to do his job as Governor of Louisiana before trying to go national.

On the bright side, Mitt Romney reportedly is in Dayton too, so maybe he’s the Veep pick and Palin is just there to introduce him. Or something like that.

ONE MORE: The AP says the McCain camp “hopes the announcement of his running mate will stunt any momentum that Democratic rival Barack Obama might get from the just concluded Democratic National Convention.” If it really is Palin, I’m afraid the opposite will happen. Press reaction will be 100% negative; the emphasis will all be on Palin’s inexperience–she’s been Governor of Alaska for less than two years–and the fallout will augment, not limit, Obama’s convention bounce. The most important thing McCain has going for him in this race is the perception that he is the serious candidate. Choosing a running mate who will be widely perceived as unqualified would go a long way toward squandering that advantage.

Don’t get me wrong: I like Sarah Palin, from what little I know of her, and I’d much rather have her as President than Barack Obama. What we’re talking here is politics. If McCain loses the election, it’s all for naught.

PAUL adds: I agree with John, and it’s not just politics. I don’t want to prejudge Palin, but she’s going to have to persuade me she’s qualified for the presidency, and this won’t be easy. I hope we’re witnessing the kind of misdirection that promised us Edith Clement and delivered John Roberts. Not that we have a Roberts for this office.

On the other hand, my friend Bill Otis, who is at least as old school as I am and usually more astute, writes:

If she’s the pick, it’s a stroke of genius. It will rally the base and have some level of appeal to women, who at this point must be feeling a little left out of things.

You once remarked to me — in pre-Monica days — that Clinton “discovered women” [as a political force]. I think the Dems have somewhat undiscovered them, or have come to take them for granted, and if McCain can now make the discovery they’ve left on the wayside, it’s all to the good.

Of course we aren’t going to get the feminist vote, but Palin will help with working women and suburban soccer moms. If McCain winds up winning, which I now give him a roughly 50% chance of doing, selecting a woman will get some of the credit, and deservedly so.

Palin will need tutoring against Biden, however. He can pack more lies into one sentence than anyone since Slick Willy — indeed even more, since the sentences are longer.

UPDATE: It’s official.

sarapalin4.jpg

FURTHER UPDATE: For a more positive assessment, go here.

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