In his New York Times column, Bill Kristol asserted that many of the Republicans who are “unhappy about John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin” as his vice-presidential running mate are “insiders who highly value -- who overly value -- 'experience.' ” However, when he was making the case that Sen. Joe Lieberman could be McCain's best choice for running mate in a column one week earlier, Kristol cited the fact that “Palin has been governor for less than two years” as a possible reason for McCain not to pick her.
In his September 1 New York Times column, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol asserted that many of the Republicans who are “unhappy about [Sen.] John McCain's selection of [Alaska Gov.] Sarah Palin” as his vice-presidential running mate are “insiders who highly value -- who overly value -- 'experience.' ” But just one week earlier, in his August 25 Times column, when he was making the case that Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) could be McCain's best choice for running mate, Kristol cited the fact that “Palin has been governor for less than two years” as a possible reason for McCain not to pick her. Kristol also wrote in his September 1 column that “McCain doesn't need a foreign policy expert as vice president to help him out.” Yet, when discussing the possibility of McCain selecting Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty as his running mate in his August 25 column, Kristol asserted: “But with [Democratic vice-presidential nominee Sen. Joe] Biden's foreign policy experience as a contrast, could McCain assure voters that the young Pawlenty is ready to take over, if need be, as commander in chief?” Kristol did not explain in his September 1 column the sudden apparent shift in the importance he places on McCain's vice-presidential nominee possessing “experience” and “foreign policy” expertise.
From Kristol's September 1 New York Times column, “A Star Is Born?”:
Thursday night, after Barack Obama's well-orchestrated, well-conceived and well-delivered acceptance speech in Denver, Republicans were demoralized. Twenty-four hours later, they were energized -- even exuberant. It's amazing what a bold vice-presidential pick who gives a sterling performance when she's introduced will do for a party's spirits.
There are Republicans who are unhappy about John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin. Many are insiders who highly value -- who overly value -- “experience.” There are also sensible strategists who nervously note just how big a gamble McCain has taken.
But what was McCain's alternative? To go quietly down to defeat, accepting a role as a bit player in The Barack Obama Story? McCain had to shake up the race, and once he was persuaded not to pick Joe Lieberman, which would have been one kind of gamble, he went all in with Sarah Palin.
Some media mandarins were upset. One reporter noted that -- horrors! -- Palin had never even appeared on “Meet the Press.” Time's Joe Klein remarked disapprovingly that McCain didn't know Palin well and had never worked with her. He noted by contrast “that when Walter Mondale picked Geraldine Ferraro in 1984, House Speaker Tip O'Neill, who had worked with Ferraro, was not only vouching for her, but raving about her.”
Of course, Ferraro was widely regarded as an unsuccessful V.P. choice. Maybe rave reviews from D.C. insiders aren't the best guarantee of future success.
And Obama supporters can't get too indignant about Palin's inexperience. She's only running for the No. 2 job, after all, while their inexperienced standard-bearer is the nominee for the top position. And McCain doesn't need a foreign policy expert as vice president to help him out.
If Palin turns out not be up to the challenge for which McCain has selected her, McCain will pay a heavy price. His judgment about the most important choice he's had to make this year will have been proved wanting. He won't be able to plead that being right about the surge in Iraq should be judged as more important than being right about his vice-presidential pick.
McCain has gambled boldly on Palin. If she flops, McCain could lose by a landslide.
On the other hand, if Palin exceeds expectations, and her selection ends up looking both bold and wise, McCain could win.
From Kristol's August 25 New York Times column, “A Joe Of His Own?”:
The two leading G.O.P. prospects have been Tim Pawlenty, the Minnesota governor, and Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor. But with Biden's foreign policy experience as a contrast, could McCain assure voters that the young Pawlenty is ready to take over, if need be, as commander in chief? Also, Biden is a strong and experienced debater. Pawlenty is unproven. If he is the choice, there will be many anxious Republicans in the run-up to the vice presidential debate in St. Louis on Oct. 2.
Romney might match up better against Biden in debate. But it's clear that the Obama-Biden campaign is moving aggressively to embrace a traditional Democratic populist economic message. Such a message will have appeal this year -- especially, one supposes, against a doubly multimansioned G.O.P. ticket of McCain and Romney.
If not Pawlenty or Romney, how about a woman, whose selection would presumably appeal to the aforementioned anguished Hillary supporters? It's awfully tempting for the McCain camp to revisit the possibility of tapping Meg Whitman, the former eBay C.E.O., Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, or Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska. But the first two have never run for office, and Palin has been governor for less than two years.
So what's to be done? McCain could well decide the obstacles to Pawlenty and Romney aren't insuperable, and pick one of them. He could choose a different Republican governor or ex-governor, senator or congressman. Or he could decide that Obama's conventional pick of Biden allows him to seize the moment by making a bold choice. He could select the person he would really like to have by his side in the White House -- but whose selection would cause palpitations among many of his staffers and supporters: the independent Democratic senator from Connecticut, Joe Lieberman.
Lieberman could hold his own against Biden in a debate. He would reinforce McCain's overall message of foreign policy experience and hawkishness. He's a strong and disciplined candidate.