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Friday, May 24, 2024

In a move that was timed to steal media attention from Sen. Barack Obama's nomination acceptance speech at the close of the Democratic National Convention, Sen. John McCain announced Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska as his running mate. Although the media craze surrounding her would have you think she is a demigod among mortal choices, Palin is not McCain's strongest possible vice presidential choice.

Don't get me wrong - Palin offers some benefits to the McCain ticket. First, she boasts culturally conservative credentials. A solid pro-lifer and lifetime member of the National Rifle Association, she reportedly was called in from a hunting expedition to hear she was selected to complete McCain's ticket. Palin is also a strong proponent of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, thus far a winning argument for conservatives.

A compelling personal story only accentuates her conservative qualifications. She is the mother of five children, the oldest of whom will begin serving in Iraq this September, and her infant has Down Syndrome. In addition to appealing to Republican family-first voters, this also plays well against the compelling personal narrative of Obama's life.

Palin's political background builds on McCains's emphasis on outside-the-beltway politics. She started as mayor of an Alaskan town of about 9,000 people and eventually rose to governorship in 2006.

These seemingly solid credentials are overshadowed by her lack of experience dealing with issues crucial to this presidential election.

The strongest argument against choosing Palin comes from looking at the opportunity cost of McCain passing over a more economically versed candidate. The state of the economy is the most important issue to voters, surpassing the Iraq war by more 30 percent in a recent CNN poll.

Palin offers absolutely no economic credentials to augment McCain's admitted economic illiteracy, unlike former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who has a wealth of experience in the field.

By not picking Romney, McCain allows Obama to continue to control the economic narrative of the race, simultaneously failing to fill a crucial gap in what voters perceive as his largest weakness. Romney would also have carried all the other benefits Palin offers, as he is staunchly in the court of social conservatives.

Palin has zero foreign policy experience, which looks terrible compared to Sen. Joe Biden, Obama's vice presidential choice and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. She will also fail to win over women voters because she opposes abortion on all levels, including in cases of rape and incest.

Independents will be scared by her wanting to teach creationism with evolution side by side in public schools. She also supported ultra-conservative Pat Buchanan for president in 2000.

By passing over Romney, McCain loses the opportunity to carry the trump card in this election - economic experience. If the economy continues to lie stagnant and voters continue to worry about it, then it will be a long 60 days for the McCain campaign.

Kyle Robisch is a second-year political science and economics student.

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