[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/29/art.palingergen.gi.jpg caption="Palin is making activists on both sides of the aisle smile."]John McCain's selection of a running mate represents the first one I can remember that has brought smiles to activists on both sides of the aisle.
Among conservatives, one hears nothing but praise for Governor Sarah Palin - she is strongly pro-life, a long-time member of the NRA, a fiscal hawk, and an interesting combination of charm and toughness. She helps to bring the party back to its conservative roots. With the commitments that McCain made at Saddleback that he would run a pro-life administration, social conservatives - especially evangelicals - can now rally to the McCain-Palin ticket with genuine enthusiasm. McCain seemingly is helping to close the enthusiasm gap on his side.
Yet among Democrats, there is lots of positive acclaim as well. From their perspective, the one argument that McCain has used so effectively against them is that we live in a highly dangerous world - he repeatedly calls terrorism "the transcendent issue of our times" - and Barack Obama has so little national security experience that he represents too much of a risk. Now, say the Dems, here we have a 72-year-old candidate - the oldest to ever seek the office for the first time - and he has asked someone to be a heartbeat away from the presidency who has no national security experience at all - none, nada. Democrats think McCain has completely undercut his strongest argument. They are also relieved that he didn't choose Mitt Romney, who brings a lot of economic understanding and would have been helpful in a big battleground state like Michigan.
So, smiles on both sides. What is uncertain is how uncommitted voters will respond - especially women who might have voted for Hillary Clinton. Clearly, the GOP is betting that Sarah Palin can bring them back. Are they right? Meanwhile, Democrats have told me that a lot of Clinton women will be shooed away by Palin's conservatism - and some will even be insulted. Are they right?
Would love your thoughts.