Yet McCain, inexplicably in this campaign, has never stirringly delivered a Reagan-esque defense of America as a shining city upon the hill, with lights blazing as brightly as ever. That may be because McCain, after all those years in Washington, doesn't get it. He wasn't raised a common man, but an officer's son, and he's been a US Senator for 20 years now.
But he's got a running mate, we saw last night, who can say "hell yeah" and "yee haw" with the best of them. (I'd love to ask McCain if he'd ever heard "Redneck Woman," made wildly popular by the singer, Gretchen Wilson, who was on the stage after Palin last night.) He's got a running mate who proudly clings to her guns and her religion---and can disparage Barack Obama for "talking about us one way in Scranton and another in way San Francisco."
Palin showed last night she can talk to all those people who want to believe in their country's greatness as they struggle to pay their bills. They may not like George Bush--but they want to believe America is the best country in the world, and they want to sing Toby Keith loud and proud.
On the national stage, Palin presented herself as someone who is perfectly willing to pull out her boot and---well, if you know Keith's "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue," you know where I'm going with this.
So regardless of why McCain picked her and how suddenly he made his choice---because he thought she was a reformer or would appeal to women voters or reinforce his maverick image---he got a candidate who can talk to a large part of America that none of the candidates really have.
That's obviously not why he picked her-if he'd put a premium on that, he would not been determined (until last Sunday) to tap Joe Lieberman as VP. That thought kept going through my mind last night-how staggeringly different Palin is from Lieberman---and how do you explain McCain turning away from one and picking the other?
In Palin, McCain got a running mate who could almost not be more different than Joe Lieberman-- and a running mate who, in many ways, is nothing like McCain himself.
And that means regardless of what the next two months hold-and the stories by the journalists crawling through Alaska, the upcoming clash with Joe Biden, the ongoing debate over whether Palin is qualified right now for the Oval Office-we got a race that just got a lot more interesting.