Well, we have pundits grading the NFL draft, don't we? And I grade everything else around here, so why not this?
First, both candidates did exactly what they needed to do with their picks. As I said before on Senator Barack Obama (D-IL):
Obama just needs someone who won't be a drag on the ticket. Anything that the nominee might provide in way of assistance to Obama is just gravy.
And here's what I said about Senator John McCain (R-AZ):
my original point here is that McCain's biggest weakness is support of the base. Adding another RINO/centrist to the ticket doesn't help him at all.
And they both accomplished that.
Also, both picks were clearly reactionary.
Obama saw that he was getting beat up by McCain on experience and foreign policy. If he were leading by 5 or more in the national polls, no way does he pick Senator Joe Biden (D-DE). Because Biden definitely has downsides. He's the antithesis of Obama's "hope and change" theme. He may hurt Obama in his primary demographic, 18-34 year olds, since he's been in the Senate longer than any of these people have been alive. This was a risk Obama felt he had to take, and he's probably right.
McCain could tell that while he'd made the race close, he'd hit a ceiling in the polls. He also still had not managed to energize the base, although they were slowly coming around. If he'd been leading in the polls going into last week, no way does he pick someone with so little experience. On the other hand, McCain felt that he'd clearly been on top of "defining the campaign". For the last month he's attacked Obama on being a lightweight and being a celebrity. He's turned some of Obama's biggest strengths into weaknesses by forcing Obama to run a more standard type of campaign while he's run a very different one. And he's forced a Democrat to play defense in a year where they should be waltzing into the White House. I think McCain felt that Governor Sarah Palin (R-AK) keeps the Democrats on defense and allows them to keep guessing just what he's going to do next.
Obama/Biden: C. It's a passing grade. Obama did what he needed to do, but he didn't set off any fireworks. He took a small risk in response to his position in the polls.
McCain/Palin: A. Not quite an A+ pick, although to be honest, there probably isn't an A+ pick out there for McCain. Yes, she's weak on experience, and hasn't been campaigning for the last 18 months so probably doesn't know the situation in Uzbekistan, for example. (Do you?) But, she reinforces his maverick/reformer identity, and does so in a good way. So far, the base appears to love her. She has a great story to tell, one that should put Oprah in tears. She keeps the Democrats on the defensive. And she's appealing to two key demographics that Obama is counting on.
You think just one? That's because that's what the MSM has told you. It's two. Think about it. I'll expound more in a forthcoming post.
Veepstakes: Advantage McCain