John McCain has chosen Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice presidential candidate. This obviously undercuts his theme of experience, just as Barack Obama's choice of Joe Biden undercut, at least marginally, his theme of change. Palin is just in her second year as governor; she was formerly mayor of Wasilla, a fast-growing town in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley.
Palin is the mother of five, including one born in April with Down syndrome. Many parents who expect Down syndrome children choose to abort them; Palin, who is staunchly pro-life, did not. This provides a vivid contrast with Barack Obama's 2003 vote against the Born-Alive Protection Act, which his campaign has admitted was "virtually identical" to a bill that passed the U.S. Senate in 2001 by 98 to 0. That may become more of an issue than mainstream media would like, as I argue in my forthcoming Creators Syndicate column.
Palin is a strong advocate of Second Amendment rights (a lifetime NRA member) and of oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (will she change McCain's mind on this?). Cultural conservatives have no basis for objecting to her. Neither, I would think, do economic conservatives. She supported Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell in his primary race against 35-year House incumbent Don Young, father of the "Bridge to Nowhere."
Foreign policy experience? Well, Alaska is the only state with a border with Russia. And it is the only state with territory, in the Aleutian Islands, occupied by the enemy in World War II. On the other hand, my recollection is that Geraldine Ferraro, who had far less experience especially in foreign policy than George H. W. Bush, held her own in the 1984 vice presidential debate.
Palin would be the first beauty queen (Miss Wasilla of 1984) to be vice president if the McCain-Palin ticket is successful.