John McCain has chosen first term Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. The McCain campaign is throwing out its strongest argument against Obama by picking someone with no foreign relations experience and less than two years in a statewide office. Prior to becoming governor a year and a half ago, she was mayor of Wasilla, a community of 6000, just northeast of Anchorage.
As I see it, this is the McCain campaign's thinking behind picking Palin: She's young, she's energetic, and she's attractive, which they hope will balance McCain's worst image problems as a tired, old man in bad health. She's very pro-life and visibly Christian (she supports the teaching of creationism in the public schools), which they hope will motivate the religious right not to sit the election out. She has a handicapped child, which is another plus with the pro-life crowd and will allow the campaign some compassionate conservatism points. She's from the not-insane wing of the party (which is very small in Alaska) that should appeal to moderates and independents. She's a girl, which is a transparent pander to the PUMAs.
On that last point, I'm reminded of the conservative pundits in 1988 who predicted women would flock to the Republican banner because Dane Quayle was cute. It was a condescending attitude then and its a condescending attitude now. Very few women are shallow enough to be fooled by such a transparent ploy.
Palin is mostly untouched by the slime surrounding Don Young, Ted Stevens, and the rest of the Alaskan Republican Party, but she does have her own mini-scandal involving an attempt to get her ex-brother-in-law fired from the Alaska State Troopers. Naturally, she blames over zealous underlings. She is strongly pro-development, which in Alaska means favoring the resource extraction and construction industries, and favors drilling anywhere and everywhere.
Don't underestimate her. She could really change the tenor of the race.