Huh? That was my dumbfounded response when I turned on the 11:00 news the night of Aug. 29, 2008 and heard more about Republican presidential nominee John McCain's choice for running mate. Earlier that day (the Friday of Labor Day weekend) I thought he had selected Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty. Turns out it was the governor of Alaska he had chosen, 44-year-old Sarah Palin. (Interestingly, this announcement was made on McCain's 72nd birthday. Perhaps it was a way to deflect attention from this AARP fact?) And suddenly the 2008 presidential campaign became a lot more interesting - and bizarre.
I was basking in the afterglow of Barack Obama's acceptance speech from the night before at the Democratic convention when I saw a New York Times News Alert in my in-box on my office comptuter Quickly skimming it I was under the impression McCain had chosen Pawlenty - it made sense since I'd read on a number of occasions that he was a leading candidate. I suppose my brain stopped processing once it saw the first two letters of the last name - the same as Palin's. I had read about Palin a number of weeks earlier in an article in The New Republic, but it wasn't in regard to her being in consideration for the VP slot, just that she was a rising star in the Republican Party.
McCain's head-scratching choice certainly injected a jolt into the 2008 campaign. And it became a ratings bonanza for Saturday Night Live when Tina Fey impersonated her to great acclaim in sketches during the show's September and October telecasts. The book Game Change offers a riveting account of the thinking behind the decision to select Palin and its ramifications it had on the presidential campaign (spoiler alert: Obama was elected president).