Sunday, September 07, 2008

Back in the Saddle

Readers of this blog have come to realize by now that I can be a little sporadic with my postings.  Unfortunately my schedule over the past few months has been such that I rarely have much of an opportunity to sit down and put out my thoughts in this forum.  However, as school is back in session and the election has reached full throttle (to put it into racing terms in honor of today's Belgian Grand Prix) I can no longer shuttle my inner desire to share my thoughts.

That said, on to business ...

As we're all aware by now, the two presidential front-runners have been officially nominated along with their chosen running mates.  Barack Obama has chosen Delaware Senator Joseph Biden and John McCain has chosen Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.  On their respective faces, it seems the former choice hopes to enhance the ticket's breadth of expertise given Biden's knowledge of foreign affairs, while the latter hopes to shore up support among the more conservative members of the Republican Party, as well as to garner some insurance votes from the ranks of the undecided.

Looking deeper into the picks, Obama's choice of Biden raises some interesting questions.  For example, why pick the obvious Beltway insider that everyone saw him picking in the first place ... why pick a white male from a small state with no executive experience ... why pick a combative, short-tempered, liberal heavyweight?  These questions yield other options Obama might have looked into.  To name one: Bill Richardson, the governor of New Mexico.  He's the son of a native Mexican mother and Nicaraguan father.  He has the necessary executive experience and foreign policy understanding to enhance Obama's credibility.  And finally, he has presidential ambitions, making a run for the second in command all the more legitimate.  He's also a Roman Catholic, so take Biden, remove the white and add the executive, and you have a much better running mate.

On the other side of the coin, the choice of Governor Sarah Palin is seen in some objective circles as the clear choice of a maverick.  Both of the prior front-runners for the VP nomination (Gov. Pawlenty and Gov. Romney) were conservative executives with shining resum√®s.  They were young and ambitious and the former is having success as the governor of Minnesota while the latter had a successful career as Massachusetts top state official and narrowly missed a shot at the Republican presidential nomination a few months ago.

When the final decision came last week Friday, many people (including some insiders) were caught off-guard by the choice of a political novice in the form of Governor Palin.  She is only 44 years old, and has been the head of Alaskan government for under two years.  Before that her experience amounts to the mayorship of her small-ish hometown (as I come from a town that size, I refuse to accept that 9,000 residents amounts to a "small town").  What she lacks in experience, she more than makes up for with her ability to take on entrenched special interests and to root out sources of corruption which prior to her gubernatorial election ran roughshod over the Alaskan landscape.

Pundits across the country have chalked this up to a "naive" and "desperate" pick by McCain.  They believe he's taking a huge risk with someone as inexperienced as Sarah Palin, but then again, how are the voters not taking a huge risk with their support of a presidential nominee with less than one term of federal experience.

In a tight election, these choices might turn out to be the eventual decider in November.  Will voters choose the obtuse Obama and bitter Biden or the magnanimous McCain and principled Palin?  Don't take my word for it, as I'm not the most objective observer.  Let the candidates speak for themselves and perhaps you'll come to the same conclusions as I have - that Obama is too partisan to be effective whereas McCain is ready and able to reach across party lines to get things done.

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