Into the Home Stretch

Barack Obama’s speech accepting his party’s nomination for president before eighty thousand adoring Democrats in Denver’s Mile High Stadium was one of the more accomplished political performances in recent memory. Coming as it did on the forty-fifth anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s epoch-making “I Have a Dream” speech on the Washington Mall, Obama’s ascendency is as astonishing as it is inspiring, especially for those who remember how African Americans were once routinely denied the ballot.

Less than twenty-four hours later, Republican presidential candidate John McCain made a bold move to blunt whatever momentum Obama hoped to take out of Denver by naming Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. Palin, a forty-four-year-old mother of five and a first-term governor, is the first woman nominated by the Republican Party to run on a national ticket. McCain’s selection of Palin was widely described as risky. Before being elected governor, Palin served as mayor of a small suburb of Anchorage. She earned the admiration of many for her stand against corruption within her own party, and for her staunchly conservative social views. An Evangelical Christian, Palin would outlaw abortion, opposes gay marriage, and supports the teaching of Intelligent Design in public schools, positions that should energize the GOP’s religious base, a group that has long been suspicious of McCain. Alaska, however, is a sparsely populated...

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