Just finished listening to the Repub Convention speech.
I have to say something about John McCain: his choice of Sara Palin as VP is pure genius on a political level. Palin's no Hillary, but Obama is going to have a hard fight ahead, much harder than the Hillary fight.
1. Biden: Palin effectively nullifies Joe Biden's ability to debate issues. Palin knows very little about international affairs (tonight it looked like she was saying the word "Iran" for the first time in her life), and when they debate, there is very little doubt in my mind that Biden will come off looking like a bully. The Repubs can easily pull the same rope-a-dope trick that Bush used against Gore in 2000--just keep repeating the phrase "fuzzy math," and eventually the smart or knowledgeable person will look like an arrogant and condescending know-it-all. In politics one never knows whether a ploy will work, but the odds are definitely in Palin's favor.
2. Hillary: they won't get most Hillary supporters to swing, but they'll definitely get some of them. Hillary supporters who say that McCain's choice of Palin is "patronizing" would not have voted for him anyway--those tend to be the ones who supported Hillary for her talents rather than the historical precedent--but those who are still angry at the DNC will definitely have an easier choice with the historic nature of bringing in the first female VP.
3. Conservatives: Palin is a staunch anti-choice, anti-environmentalist conservative which is helping him pick up supporters from the Religious Right. Already, "Dr." James Dobson has said that he'd vote for McCain. (I need to take this opportunity to repeat the essential question that Richard Dawkins asked about Dobson's group Focus on the Family--"Focus on whose family?")
4. Bristol Palin: The McCain camp says that they knew about Bristol's pregnancy beforehand, and I believe them. This is perhaps the most ingeniuous part of McCain's plan. Riding on the momentum from Jamie Lynn Spears's pregnancy, McCain is effectively using this supposedly negative distraction as a means of getting on the airwaves and making a mental impact on young people who deal with these issues. The fact that he's embracing Bristol's soon-to-be new family shows that he's sympathetic with young people, thereby appealing to some young liberals, and the 72 year old McCain is reaching out to a demographic that normally wouldn't pay attention to a guy so old. It's brilliant.
McCain would still be a lousy choice for President with 100 more years in Iraq, and Palin would be even worse as an inexperienced VP standing just one 72 year old heartbeat from the presidency. A Palin vs. Putin possibility should scare everyone. But I have to say--on a political level, his choice of Palin as VP was brilliant. We are all going to have to work hard to fight during this campaign.