A young reformer picked an experienced foreign policy specialist: (Obama-Biden).
An experienced foreign policy specialist picked a young reformer: (McCain-Palin).
The mirror image of these two picks is striking. There are some advantages that this pick brings to McCain. If you follow my list of reasons for selecting a VP, Palin qualifies for reasons 3, 4, and 7. She reinforces McCain’s “government reformer” message, she unifies the party by solidifying the support of social conservatives, and she helps win the female vote.
There are some clear disadvantages to this pick as well. Obviously, McCain didn’t follow my advice to pick a VP with a presidential-ready resume. I am concerned that she does not have the experience necessary to be president (a concern I share about Obama, by the way). Also, one of McCain’s main criticisms of Obama is that he doesn’t have the experience necessary to lead. His VP pick seems to negate much of the thrust of that attack.
Republicans are countering that at least she has executive branch experience, while Obama has none. But McCain doesn’t have executive branch experience either. So, if executive branch experience is such a valuable asset, is McCain qualified? Republicans will have difficulty making the experience argument now.
Typically, if you are ahead in the polls, as Obama is, you should play it safe. Obama has done that by picking an old, white, male with foreign policy experience. If you are behind in the polls, as McCain is, you should make some risky moves. McCain has certainly done that with his VP pick.