Intellectually, I recognize that John McCain could have done very well with either Sarah Palin or Mitt Romney.
Palin brought in an avenue to reel in disaffected Hillary supporters. She puts a very articulate and reasonable face on the issue of domestic energy production. She is a reformer and maverick - which fits into McCain's career and image very well. She also has impeccable pro-life credentials (I don't think a woman should be forced to carry her rapist's child).
She lacks experience, though, and on the economy in general, she is not as strong as Romney. But the pluses far outweigh the minuses.
Romney had the economic credentials - in spades. He also had no real skeletons, had been vetted, and would have not only locked down some uncomfortably close Mountain West States (Nevada, Colorado, and New Mexico), but he had a very good chance of flipping Michigan. The way this election is shaping up - McCain winning Michigan means game over for Obama.
There were downsides. He and McCain didn't exactly get along in the primary. The other, though, leaves me with a bag of mixed emotions.
To wit, Mitt Romney was shot down for the Presidential nomination by anti-Mormon bigotry among evangelicals - a bigotry that was played to by Mike Huckabee. It was a bigotry that a lot of leading conservatives did not denounce. Why they did not do so is a mystery. Afraid of losing support? Was it a reluctance to make a charge that has all too often been used by the likes of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson with little merit? Who knows? But the fact they didn't take on Huckabee has led me to seriously reconsider my alliance with conservatism.
Worse, it also colors my views on a very dedicated wife, mother, and public servant. As much as Sarah Palin is a good nominee, and knowing intellectually that it is very likely that she was selected on the merits, a part of me will always wonder whether she got the slot entirely on the merits (which make it just about a coin toss), or because McCain blinked vis-a-vis Huckabee and other anti-Mormon bigots. I’m probably being very unfair to Governor Palin, but that question just is not going away any time soon.