Examiner Editorial: Palin, Gustav reframe 2008 race

Sen. John McCain may well have made the two most important decisions of the 2008 presidential race by naming Sarah Palin, Alaska’s conservative reformer governor as his vice presidential running mate, and re-focusing the Republican National Convention as a tool for rallying all Americans to the aid of their countrymen caught in the path of Hurricane
Gustav.

Those beads of cold sweat seen forming on the foreheads of Democratic leaders bespeak their terror at seeing the election they couldn’t possibly lose being torn from their grasp. Why, it’s enough to make some of them think God must not be on their side after all, contrary to the smug pronouncements of former Democratic National Committee Chairman Don Fowler and Democratic agitprop manager Michael Moore.

The significance of Palin’s selection — her unmarried daughter’s pregnancy notwithstanding — is captured in these comments at the convention by a GOP county chairman from a mid-Atlantic state: “When Sarah Palin was announced, the approval was instantaneous. People who were not enthusiastic about McCain are now saying what a genius he is for choosing Palin. Best of all, delegates from blue states now think they have a chance to win in their state.”

Unlike the other three members of the respective presidential tickets, all of whom are members of the most unpopular Congress in living memory, Palin is a fresh face who took on and beat one of America’s most corrupt state political establishments.

The nickname “Sarah Barracuda” came from Palin’s aggressive play on a state championship-winning high school basketball team, but the earmark-obsessed Ted Stevens-Don Young dominated Alaska GOP can attest that she goes after opponents as sharply as ever. Sens. Barack Obama and Joe Biden would be well-advised to tread carefully here.

As for those Democrats cackling about a natural disaster hitting the Gulf Coast just as the Republicans gather in Minneapolis-St. Paul, and on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina to boot, McCain has deftly turned the act of a supposedly partisan divinity against those who presume to know the eternal mind.

McCain’s statement calling on his party to “act as Americans, not as Republicans,” and getting a briefing for himself and Palin on official disaster-relief preparations removed Gustav as an occasion for Obama and Biden to rehash 2005 for narrow political gain. If, in the end, Gustav causes worse-than-expected damage to the Gulf Coast, McCain can challenge Obama to join him in raising relief funds for hurricane victims. That’s what true leadership is all about — country first, party second.

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