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It's Not About Palin; It's About McCain

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If John McCain's veep choice was designed to dominate the news cycle, then I say: "Mission Accomplished."

To his supporters picking Alaska Governor, Sarah Palin looks bold; to his detractors, it's cynical.
Since McCain tabbed Palin to be a heartbeat away from commander-in-chief the chattering class has all but forgot Barack Obama's dramatic acceptance speech in Denver.

It is quite amusing to watch the Democratic faithful beam with the sincerity of Alice in Wonderland's Cheshire Cat at what they view as a sophomoric choice on McCain's behalf.

History would be quick to point out Democrats held similar positions in 1968 when Richard Nixon selected the unheralded Spiro Agnew and in 1988 when George H.W. Bush chose the untested Dan Quayle, both of whom went on to victory.

As I recall, in their one vice presidential debate, Democrat Lloyd Bentsen, cleaned Quayle's clock, but that didn't help Michael Dukakis.

Palin's record, or lack thereof, offers more than enough discussion.

Her Hillary-like cackle while appearing on a Alaska radio show when one of the hosts referred to a member of the Alaska Legislature and cancer survivor as a "B-word" warrants evaluation about her judgment and panache.

When has a presidential race come down to the vice presidential choice? It doesn't, not even the 1972 race when George McGovern selected Thomas Eagleton for 18 days, until revelations that Eagleton checked himself into a hospital three times for physical and nervous exhaustion, twice receiving electric shock treatments, which led to his being replaced by Sargent Shriver.

It wasn't Eagleton, but the way McGovern handled the matter that helped doom his election against Richard Nixon.

That's not to say vice presidential candidates are inconsequential, Dick Cheney's eight years debunks that theory. As public figures, running on the national ticket grants the individual less right to privacy than the average citizen.

But do we need to know that Palin's teenage daughter is pregnant?

There is nothing newsworthy over the revelation that a 17-year-old is five months pregnant in our society. That is a challenging and sensitive matter that the Palin family must grapple.

It is easy to decry the obvious hypocrisy of Palin's demand for abstinence and the failure of that policy to work in her own home.

I commend Barack Obama's no tolerance statement. "I strongly urge people to back off these kinds of stories. You know my mother had me when she was 18," he said.

Frankly, I don't, and suspect a scant few prognosticators do, know exactly what McCain's selection of Palin will mean politically. Moreover, regardless of who is the vice presidential choice, McCain and Obama must confront obstacles to pass the 270 electoral vote (ev) plateau required to be the next president.

According to The Cook Political Report, there are 150 (ev) that are solid Democrat, while Republicans have 130. Democrats lead Republicans 33 to 27 in the "likely" category, and 57 to 17 in the "leaning" category. This gives Obama a 240 to 174 electoral vote advantage with 124 (ev) in the "toss-up" range.

The good news for Obama of the nine states considered toss-ups, eight were won by Bush in 2004. McCain will be forced to hold on to 117 (ev), while Obama must hold on to 17 previously won by Kerry and Gore.

McCain's hope lies in the six toss-up states or 81 (ev) that have not been carried by a Democrat since Bill Clinton in 1996, including Florida and Ohio. The presidential race will be won by the candidate, who can overcome their pending obstacles.

Obama's moderate post convention bump notwithstanding, this is shaping up to an election bearing strong resemblance to 1980. Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter were locked in a tight race until the numbers broke Reagan's way in the waning weeks before Election Day.

I doubt Palin or, for that matter, Democratic vice presidential nomine Joe Biden will determine which direction the country goes. Fortunately, people still vote for who is at top of the ticket.

As information is released about Palin it says more about John McCain. How detailed was the McCain vetting process?

If it turns out the person at the top of the ticket ultimately went with his gut rather examining the details it just feels that most Americans have already seen that horror movie for the past eight years.

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