Thoughts on the 2008 vice presidential race

I don't think I've said anything about it up to now, and there's only (as of today) 9 1/2 weeks left.

I just read Mudflats' "What is McCain Thinking? One Alaskan's Perspective." In it, she says:

[…] Listen to John McCain and you'll hear
about a maverick reformer who took on big oil, took on corrupt Alaska
politicians, and whose ethics are unquestioned.

Alaskans really want to like Sarah
Palin.  In a state where corruption is the rule, and the same faces
keep recycling over and over and over again like a bad dream, a new
face, with a promise of reform seemed like a breath of fresh air. 
Palin defeated incumbent governor Frank Murkowski (father of Alaska
Senator Lisa Murkowski who he appointed to his own Senate seat when he
was elected governor) because he was such an obnoxious, bloviating,
downright BAD politician.  This staunchly republican state voted with
relief, not having to cross over and vote Democratic, but still able to
get Murkowski the hell out of office.  In the general election Palin
swept into office running against a former Democratic governor, Tony
Knowles, who was capable but came with baggage.  And he represented to
Alaskans more of the same, tired old-style politics, and special
interests that we have come to loathe.

So, if McCain had made his selection six
months ago, the squeaky-clean governor meme would have made a little
more sense.  But, Sarah Palin is currently under an ethics
investigation by the Alaska state legislature. […]

See, six months ago, it was pretty hard to tell the lineup of Republican presidential candidates apart — even with a scorecard. So when I tweeted a friend a Publius Pundit vice-presidential poll, he said he was rooting for someone he thought could govern: Christopher Cox, for his conservative bonafides, relative youth and ability to shore up McCain's economic flank.

He asked me who I thought had a shot, and I told him I thought the nod would be more about campaigning than governing: "Whitman, Hutchison, Rice,
Watts, Jindal, Powell, Palin, Blackburn, [Elizabeth] Dole, Steele." Of those, my friend said he thought only Watts had enough experience but lacked the desire.

I didn't give the issue any more serious thought until this morning. I'd assumed McCain wouldn't give in to his long-shot leanings. I was wrong.

Today, my friend asked me what I thought of Joe Biden. I said "Meh. I'd hoped he'd double-down on change (Bayh/Kaine) or pick
Hagel or Powell or Richardson, but I'm pleased he didn't pick Clinton." I think we can all see pretty clearly what not-picking Clinton yielded.

Pigmentation itself, ethnicity itself, is not a factor that is going to sway people

[…] "In my district, people are going with Hillary," said state Sen. Robert
Ford, a Democrat from Charleston. "I am sure there will be some young
blacks who will be behind Obama, but elderly blacks are going with
Hillary because they love Bill and they love Hillary for standing
behind him for eight years." […]

[…] "People down here don't know him, and South Carolinians in many ways
are a difficult lot," said Cole Blease Graham, a political scientist at
the University of South Carolina. "They like to see their politicians
up close in the flesh, shake their hand and look them in the eye. "Blacks will determine the winner in South Carolina, and if it came
down to it right now, it would be Clinton because of the lack of
exposure Obama has here," said Graham. "If Obama can win some
attraction from whites and overwhelming support from black voters, he
can beat Clinton." […]

[…] "South Carolina is one of the most racially polarized places in the
country, and black people in South Carolina have never elected a black
candidate statewide," said David Bositis, senior political analyst for
the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington.
"There are places in the South where people don't think anybody black
can be elected to anything. So when they think about the presidential
election, they don't think of Obama as someone with very good
prospects."
[…]

Quotes from Dahleen Glanton's Chicago Tribune article "Obama's Southern support not a cinch"

[…] "He has to campaign. Like any other candidate, he will have to prove
a viability, prove that he’s going to articulate the issues and do so
in a way that proves that he is an authentic Democrat and not a closet
Republican." […]

Rev. Joe Darby,
pastor of Morris Brown AME Church in Charleston, one of the largest
black churches in the state, quoted in Aaron Gould Sheinin's The State article "Obama campaigning in S.C. today"

[…] "There are some things you can't run away from. He's going to have
to raise between $US50 million ($64 million) and $US100 million,
and that money's not coming from black people. So black people are
going to have to engage with that reality. He gives the impression
that he dances on both sides, but when he gets into the goldfish
bowl of an election campaign, he will be forced to define himself
more concretely." […]

Ron
Walters, the director of the African American Leadership Institute
and an expert on black presidential politics, in Gary Younge's Guardian UK (via Sydney Morning Herald) column "The real deal"

"If you're a black man in America today, you're treated
like a black man, every day. […] Toni Morrison called Bill
Clinton our first black president. He was very
comfortable around black people, played the saxophone, went to black
churches. I don't see where Hillary inherits that. She's a whole
different deal."

"If blackness is not consecrated by slavery and
childhood poverty, you're not black enough? That idea is nonsense. Nothing in Obama's
background justifies seeing him as a white guy's black guy. He has
addressed black concerns as a community organizer in Chicago and a
state senator in Springfield. […] Bill went out of his way to make black appointments, court black
voters, and she was at his side when he did it. And
blacks are loyal to people who they think have produced for them."

Quotes from Georgetown law professor Patricia King and her husband, civil rights activist Roger Wilkins, in Ken Bode's Indianapolis Star op-ed "Who will get blacks' votes?"