Well, no one can accuse John McCain of making a boring VP pick. Sarah Palin, quite frankly, wasn't even on my radar, so I'm glad I didn't even try to guess his pick. I really thought he might go with Rudy as it would have been a "maverick" pick as well, but his pro-choice position probably wouldn't have gone over well at the convention.
So does Palin help or hurt McCain? Well, for starters, she solidifies and maybe even fires up the GOP base. This is important, because turnout more then anything else decides elections. Getting Bush's Evangelicals to the voting booths is the only way to blunt the Obama voter drive onslaught. Two, and there's no other way to put this: Palin's not a crusty old rich out of touch white guy. This is huge, because choosing Mitt Romney on the ticket would put two stereotypical Republicans on the ballot in a year when the GOP brand name is mud. Sarah Palin, a young woman, mother of five, blue collar, ex union member, is the diametric opposite of McCain and really balances the ticket. Palin should help attract white independent suburban moms, who are critical in this election for McCain's chances. Third, Palin is an honest to God outsider. You can't get any further from Washington then Alaska, Palin's home state. She shares McCain's independence and will be a real asset in attacking the broken Washington establishment.
What are Palin's weaknesses? Even though she has more executive experience then Obama, Biden, and even McCain combined, it's still less then two years of governing the 48th smallest state in terms of population. Her total lack of foriegn policy experience is already being hammered by Obama's campaign and will likely be echoed by the MSM. It doesn't help that McCain is 72 years old with 2 melanoma treatments, raising the above average possibility that Palin might have to step in. In my opinion, the Democrat's shouldn't be throwing stones considering Obama's experience amounts to 130 "present" votes in the Illinois State Senate and heading one inconsequential subcomittee once he got to Washington. Palin must counter the attacks forcefully before the Democrat/MSM attack machine paints her. Another point of contention is her ability to debate Joe Biden. Biden will probably hammer her at their one debate, so she better come out swinging. One last point: If McCain thinks putting Palin on the ticket will get him all the disaffected Hillary voters he is sadly mistaken. Hillary's feminists aren't going to vote for a woman as strongly pro-life as McCain is. In a worst case scenario it will look like pandering and turn off the very voters he was trying to recruit and send them back to Obama.
Sarah Palin was about as good a pick as McCain could come up with under the circumstances. I give him credit for avoiding the safe pick, but if Palin isn't as tough as advertised he'll be regretting it come November 4th.