James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association and a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media.

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Archive for June 18th, 2008

McCain’s best VP choice–and when he should name her

Posted by James McPherson on June 18, 2008

There is naturally a lot of discussion over whom each of the candidates should choose as a running mate. The Los Angeles Times and others have named Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Mark Sanford, Richard Burr, Paul Ryan, Tim Pawlenty and Charlie Crist as possibilities–though since rumors that Crist is gay keep bubbling up and the last thing the party of Mark Foley and Larry Craig needs is another gay sex scandal, I doubt he’ll be any more than a campaigner for McCain. 

A popular choice among pundits–but probably no one else outside of Israel–is former Democratic vice presidential nominee and current McCain lapdog Joe Lieberman. (Yes, he acts more like an eager-to-please Labrador retriever than a lap-sized pocket pooch, but I can attest even a 100-pound Lab like mine considers itself to be a lapdog). Republican bloggers have broadened the list of potential running mates, including such possibilities as Condi Rice, J.C. Watts, Fred Thompson, Rudy Giulianni, Haley Barbour, Tom Coburn, Duncan Hunter, Marsha Blackburn or Sarah Palin.

Despite the advice he’ll get from the Huckabee Alliance and others, McCain should choose Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn or Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. Both are young, attractive and female. That might make Cindy McCain, the one most familiar with his history, and some social conservatives a bit nervous, but in a post-Bill Clinton world I doubt that Democrats would raise improper questions. The youth and gender of either Blackburn or Palin would help McCain among young voters, disgruntled Hillary Clinton supporters, and dirty old men. Of those two choices, I prefer Palin–a University of Idaho journalism graduate, former beauty pageant “Miss Congeniality,” mother of five, lifetime member of the National Rifle Association, and very popular governor.

As for when McCain should name Palin as the nominee (though I hate to help the GOP): I suggest Sunday, Aug. 24. That’s the day before the start of the Democratic National Convention, which runs Aug. 25-28. That would greatly reduce the positive attention paid to the Dems, especially since the networks have largely abandoned most coverage of the highly scripted conventions, anyway. It would also leave Democrats scrambling to consider responding during the speeches of the Democratic VP choice that Wednesday night or of Obama that Thursday night. Frankly, I’d recommend that they not address it at all, since there are too many ways they could do so badly–another reason McCain should introduce her then.

Since the Republican National Convention isn’t until Sept. 1-4, that would give people a week to learn more about Palin and for the news media to come up with all they could–which with such short notice would almost certainly be superficial and glowing. And that’s still more than two months before the general election, which would generate buzz at exactly the time most Americans will finally start paying attention to the electoral process. 

AUGUST 1 UPDATE: Lots of other folks are discussing Palin as McCain’s choice.

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