Palin: The Stakes Just Got Higher

Maybe Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin wouldn't have been McCain's first choice for vice president if there weren't lingering hard feelings about Hillary's campaign or lack of consideration for the VP slot. But, it doesn't matter. There were, and she is.

The Democrats are in a tough position after Obama's electrifying speech. There is no glory-basking time. They can't attack Palin's experience level since she has more technical executive experience as the number two woman (yes woman) on the GOP ticket, than Obama does. And if they complain too loudly about her being selected just because she's a woman, they will alienate millions of female voters in swing states who are still annoyed about Hillary's smacking her head on the glass ceiling after cracking it 18 million times.

Palin, after paying homage to Hillary's feat, deftly said now they can crack that ceiling once and for all. The ticket puts a whole new gender spin on the election. To millions of Americans, particularly women, who don't spend every minute of their days watching and analyzing political news -- because they are working for a hard-to-achieve living -- the GOP just stole their own piece of history, rendering Obama's safe pick of Biden, not so safe after all.

Obama took a risk in not choosing a woman who captured 18 million votes as his VP, and not explaining why. McCain seized upon that omission by choosing the relatively unknown Palin as a result. Obama must now walk a fine line. He can criticize what Palin has done or believes. But he must recognize her for the historic choice (to take a page out of the GOP's playbook) that she is (and that he avoided). That could be the only way to capture the millions of female voters across the country, many of which voted for Hillary and haven't yet decided on Obama.

McCain will praise Palin's qualities as much as he will praise Hillary's accomplishments. He and she will extol women's suffrage with extreme political zeal. It may be melodramatic, it may be obvious pandering -- but political pandering wins elections. And, as the U.S. Open steams on, the political ball is back in Obama's court for a very important response.

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