“I don’t think Palin would be seeing these kind of gains if Hillary was on the ticket… When Obama picked Biden, it gave Republicans an opening, and they are taking full advantage of it… The question is: How long will it last?”
If Obama had done the smart thing, he would have picked Sen. Hillary Clinton for vice president. If he had, he would have united his party for sure and energized his base.
But even among more reasonable Democrats, the Palin pick does create worries for the still-tender party, not the least of which is that it will reopen a debate about whether Barack Obama should have picked a female vice president, or more specifically, Hillary Clinton.
Biden is a strong candidate for Democratic women, with a good record of supporting reproductive rights and opposing antichoice nominees to the Supreme Court. Biden also wrote the groundbreaking Violence Against Women Act, and is great on the lunch-bucket economic issues so vital to so many American women.
But there was pressure on Obama, especially after the energy (and votes) generated by Clinton’s run, to consider as a running mate Clinton herself, or women like Kathleen Sebelius and Janet Napolitano. He reportedly did not formally vet Clinton, and none of his final top three candidates for the job were female.
The selection of Palin makes it easier to see what the advantages of putting a woman on the Democratic ticket might have been for Obama. McCain likely tapped Palin specifically to battle Obama’s perceived woman problem, and her selection blunts the Obama camp’s argument that McCain has entirely lost his maverick edge. It also keeps Obama’s from being the only history-making candidacy in the voting booth, and allows those undecideds who might have been queasy about Obama’s differences (i.e. race) to funnel guilt about their hesitation into a vote they can tell themselves is socially progressive, and even — ugh — feminist.
Isn’t ironic that it was just a week ago that Huffington Post could hardly contain itself by wondering when Sarah Palin would drop out? I hope that the Prediction Market will start betting how long it will take before Hillary replaces Biden.