See, I told you that John McCain could be trusted to make good decisions for the country. If Sarah Palin is any kind of indication as to the kind of people with whom he would surround himself as president, I can't wait to see his first Supreme Court nominee.
The choice of Palin was a brilliant decision in numerous ways. First, and probably most importantly, she energized the base of the Republican Party and galvanized them behind McCain. Palin is a true-blue (or rather "red") conservative. She is a Christian, is pro-life, pro-gun and pro-family while also being fiscally conservative and anti-establishment.
Palin is someone that every facet of the conservative base can get behind. Evidence of this was the money that came pouring into the campaign the weekend that she was chosen and continued to roll in the week of the Republican convention. McCain's campaign raked in $7 million the day Palin was announced. They reported bringing in $10 million on the day of Palin's convention speech, the most they ever raised in one day. Republicans now say that there will be no money advantage for Obama the rest of the campaign.
The choice of Palin demonstrates, again, the "maverick" image of McCain. This will continue his appeal to independents. Also, there is the obvious appeal to women, especially those who may have become disenfranchised with the Obama campaign not choosing Hillary Clinton. If nothing else, it keeps Obama playing defense as to why he passed over Clinton for his V.P.
Also, Palin's strengths match Obama's strengths. He's fresh and new; so is she. He's articulate and well spoken; so is she. He's handsome; she's beauty-queen beautiful. He's an African-American; she's a woman.
In addition, her weaknesses, perceived or real, that liberals may point out highlight even greater weaknesses in Obama. This gives the Republicans a retort for most every criticism that could be leveled at Palin. Liberals have said she doesn't have enough experience. Conservatives responded that she has more than Obama.
Liberals will say she's a small-town hick. Conservatives will respond that Obama is a big-city elitist. Liberals will say she comes from a radical church. Conservatives will quote Obama's former pastor Jeremiah Wright.
Liberals will say she's too conservative. Conservatives will point to Obama as the most liberal senator in Congress. Along with all of this, conservatives will note that Palin is on the undercard for their party, while Obama has top billing with the Democrats.
What's more, Palin has a life and a history to which most all Americans can relate. This cannot be said of any of the other candidates. McCain's biography is so unique and amazing that no one can imagine himself as him. Obama is the graduate of two Ivy League schools (Columbia and Harvard) and has been involved in law or politics his whole adult life. Joe Biden has been in law and politics all of his life as well. In fact, he became a senator at the Constitutionally minimum age of 30.
Palin is a graduate of the University of Idaho with a degree in communications-journalism. She worked in journalism and served on the PTA. She's helped her husband run his family's commercial fishing business. She served two terms on the city council in Wasilla, Alaska, and later became mayor. In 2002, she ran for lieutenant governor of Alaska and lost a close race. She was appointed to the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which she chaired from 2003 to 2004.
In 2006, Palin became the first female governor of Alaska and its youngest at 42. In addition to all of this, she is a wife of 20 years and a mother of five, including a son who is set to be deployed to Iraq this month. She hunts, fishes and is a lifetime member of the NRA.
All of this gives Palin strong connections to the majority of Americans. Her life story is one that resonates across the heartland. It's one that many young Americans, especially women, can look at and say, "Yeah, I could do that."
Most liberals know this, and this is why they have come after her. The attacks have been vicious. (These liberals never seem to let the facts get in their way; i.e., Joan King's last article that contained multiple false accusations. See my Web site for my response.)
It seems that many liberals imagined that since Palin's daughter became pregnant out of wedlock, evangelical support might waver. This proved to be way off, and her attackers should have known better (though most liberals often get evangelicals wrong). Evangelicals overwhelmingly supported Bush-Cheney in two elections even though Cheney has a lesbian daughter.
This election should ultimately come down to the contrasts between McCain and Obama. However, Palin has shaken up the election like no one else could have. I think McCain could have won without her, but I also believe that with Palin on the ticket, he improved greatly his chances of victory.
Trevor Thomas is a Gainesville resident and frequent columnist. His columns appear regularly.