Columnist San Diego Union-Tribune
On the excitement meter, the winning ticket is clear: Obama-Palin.
For months, Democrats have swooned over a political celebrity who doesn't fit the profile of past presidents.
Though a great communicator loaded with charisma, he has little Washington experience, as you might expect from an outsider who promises change. And because change frightens people, he brings out the naysayers, some of whom resort to racism to attack his character.
Now, Republicans are swooning over a political celebrity who doesn't fit the profile of past vice presidents. Though a great communicator loaded with charisma, she has little Washington experience, as you might expect from an outsider who promises change. And because change frightens people, she brings out the naysayers, some of whom resort to sexism to attack her character.
A new poll finds that Barack Obama and Sarah Palin are, for their respective tickets, to quote Reggie Jackson, the straw that stirs the drink. With most polls showing the race tied, it looks like half the country is rooting for Obama and the other half is rooting for Palin. Joe Biden and John McCain are just along for the ride.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll found that, if Americans could cast separate votes for president and vice president, "Obama-Palin" would win. Palin would wallop Biden, 53 percent to 44 percent.
Obama would beat McCain, 49 percent to 48 percent, which falls within the poll's margin of error. Some will call this simply a case of Americans reacting positively to something new and different - in this case, an African-American seeking to become president, and a woman vying for vice president.
Personally, I think there is more to it. I think many Americans know enough to understand how difficult it was for a Barack Obama or a Sarah Palin to get this far. If they don't, they're learning every time their candidate gets muddied. And, because they see Obama and Palin as underdogs, they'd like to see him - or her - succeed.
This historic race has made Americans realize how tired they were of the white male monopoly on party tickets. In the history of this country, only once have we strayed from the model of two white males running on major party tickets. Geraldine Ferraro's vice presidential bid in 1984 is the sole exception.
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