Presidential Campaign

John McCain’s Magnificent Mistake

One of my favorite movies of all time is “The Natural,” a mythic sports tale about aging baseball phenom Roy Hobbs as played by megastar Robert Redford.

The game-ending, film-ending climax comes when Hobbs slams a smashing homer with such ferocity, power and trajectory that the ball demolishes a set of outfield lights, creating a spectacular fireworks-like display of shattered glass and bulbs as Hobbs circles the bases and into the arms of his inspired teammates.

That scene quickly dissolves into a shot of the now-otherworldly baseball as it continues its arc through the heavens and into the annals of baseball myth. Roy Hobbs — “the best there ever was.”

I was thinking about that scene Wednesday night as Sarah Palin neared the end of her much-anticipated debut speech at the GOP convention in Minnesota.

As I have written before, my puristic view (and I will not budge) is that the singular criterion for choosing a VP is that the “chosen one,” first and foremost, must be qualified to assume the office with no notice, should the president became incapacitated or die.

On that level, John McCain failed in his choice of Palin. I am not saying she can’t “get there” over time, just that there are plenty of other people McCain could have tapped. Sure, maybe all boring middle-aged white guys who fail Charisma 101, but folks who clearly could take the reins at 3 a.m. if need be.

But on the much less critical but more expedient “necessity of the day” criterion of picking someone who can rock a room and excite a “base” that happens to be not all that enthralled by the top of the ticket, McCain may have just won himself the presidency.

Palin could still get tripped up on world geography, or launch into a diatribe about inner-city Atlanta when asked about the crisis in Georgia, but if she is successful in navigating the “gotcha” landmines that an entrenched and offended media surely have in store, the Bible-loving, moose-cleaning, anti-taxing, old-boy-busting, pistol-packing mama from Alaska just might do the trick for McCain.

Especially in those northern swing states like New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan, where they love their faith, love to hunt, and love “real people” politicians.

Palin may not help McCain in places like Philadelphia, Cleveland or Detroit, but in all those thousands of small towns that dot the map in between and surrounding all those places, she has the potential to be hell on wheels.

That fact that her husband is a card-carrying union member does not hurt, either.

Palin is a self-described “hockey mom,” so perhaps I should replace the baseball metaphors with something more suitable: During last night’s speech, the gentlelady from Alaska, with a sparkle in her eyes, threw off her gloves and moved to the fist-swinging action at the center of the ice.

For someone who truly likes McCain, Obama and Biden, but has not been fully absorbed up to this point, this thing just got really, really interesting.

Tags Conservatism in the United States Joe Biden John McCain John McCain Public image of Sarah Palin Sarah Palin Sarah Palin Sarah Palin interviews with Katie Couric Tea Party movement United States
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