With John McCain’s choice of forty four year old Sarah Palin as his running mate, the Grand Old Party is entering a rebuilding mode, hoping to become a lot more grand, and a little less old. Baseball teams rebuild all the time. A Championship team eventually ages and requires some fresh blood to stay competitive. Some teams like the Pittsburgh Pirates or Kansas City Royals are in a constant state of rebuilding, always looking to next season. But never mind them, they’re the Green or Constitution Parties of baseball. The Republicans, now they’re the Yankees. And like the Yankees, John McCain and the Republicans are not giving up on this year in the least.
Sure, John McCain could have chosen Mitt Romney (age 61), Tom Ridge (63), Rudy Giuliani (64) or even Mike Huckabee (53) as his running mate. But would they have really helped all that much more? Or are they the Carlos Silvas and Kyle Lohses of politics? Nice candidates, sure, but they just don’t present all that much upside, while each features a fatal flaw with the core Republican base. John McCain is not letting go of Roger Clemens at the so-called twilight of his career. And most importantly, none of those potential running mates help in future elections.
Sarah Palin just might.
Sarah Palin has upside. She’s a relative unknown, but a strong prospect and a fast riser in the GOP. She excites the base of the Republican Party and lends McCain evangelical street cred. The choice was a surprise and it got people talking, got the McCain campaign media coverage it could only have dreamed of previously.
Besides some nasty rumors, Palin’s largest fault so far is that she is Republican. She’s pro-life to the core and as religious as they come. But so is the religious right that the McCain campaign wants to court.
Sarah Palin is also a wild-card. She’s inexperienced in government, but even more important to the election, she’s inexperienced in campaigning, with zero experience on the national stage. Will she wilt under intense media scrutiny? Can she handle a debate against the grey-haired veteran Biden? Or will she surprise the Democrats and the media who are likely to underestimate her? Will she be Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain?
Win or lose this November, Sarah Palin will be a factor in the future. Lose, and she’s got a head start for 2012 when the inexperience factor will no longer be an issue. Win, and she’s the presumptive nominee in 2016 at only 52.
Gaining a head start on the GOP, the Democrats were able to rebuild in 2006 so they could compete now. They have their young star in Barak Obama. They were able to play it safe and pair him with a grizzled veteran in Joe Biden. For this metaphor, they can be the Boston Red Sox. For the Democrats, the future is now.
However, though Sarah Palin may be being groomed for the future, it does not mean that John McCain cannot compete right now. He needed to call-up some talent from the minors, but anything can happen in the stretch run. Sarah Palin just might provide enough youthful excitement to tip the race, she just might unify the evangelical base behind the ticket, she just might play the X factor. Don’t count McCain and Palin out yet. It ain’t over till it’s over.