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>> Like I said earlier, I think McCain has screwed the pooch on this one. <<

We'll find out. Like I said before, this is certainly a risky pick. As I mentioned, she seems very popular and likable to those who know her, and maybe the McCain camp hopes that will translate to some votes as people get to know her.

Let's just say that the positives she brings will have to find a way to offset the dilution of McCain's "experience" message -- especially given that no veep choice has been as important and relevant in my lifetime as McCain's given his age and medical history.

I've had Sarah Palin pegged as a rising star in the GOP since she won the governorship two years ago. I just didn't think it would be yet. I think this would have been a better (at least safer) pick 4-8 years from now. But McCain hasn't always been known to do the "safe" thing politically -- which can be both a positive and a negative.

And personally, I've long liked Snowe and Collins as social moderates able to work the other side of the aisle, but let's face it -- politics played into this in terms of re-energizing the social conservative base that supported Romney and Huckabee, and if McCain wanted to get them psyched up for his candidacy, neither Snowe nor Collins -- whom most core Republicans dismiss as "RINOs" -- would have worked.

So yes, I do think in the end maybe there was determination to select a woman. But I think there were certain qualities they were looking for (particularly socially) that more qualified female Republicans didn't bring, which left Palin. Her reputation (short as it is) for appointing Democrats to state positions and for battling the corruption of the old-boy Stevens/Murkowski wing of the Alaska GOP are noted and impressive, and complement a so-called "maverick" like McCain. If this were a healthy 52-year-old candidate with no history of life-threatening disease, the selection of Palin becomes much less risky. But for a 72-year-old cancer survivor, it's really rolling the dice.

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