With the selection of Sarah Palin as his Vice Presidential nominee, John McCain has once again burnished his image as a political maverick. The choice of a running mate who is about as far removed from Washington, D. C. as you can get helps to underscore his reputation as a free-thinking outsider.
But given Barack Obama’s popularity, it looks like the Arizona senator may have to do even more to emphasize his maverick credentials. If McCain doesn’t gain some polling traction with his choice of Palin, look for him to try one or more of these image-enhancing moves:
* At his first debate with Obama, John McCain appears dressed totally in authentic western wear. From his ten-gallon hat to his spur-bearing boots, the Republican nominee will become the iconic cowboy that Americans are longing to see. The betting is even money as to whether or not McCain will enter the auditorium on a horse.
* At the first hint of a negative word from Obama, McCain will challenge him to a duel with pistols at dawn. Obama, of course, will decline but McCain can then emphasize Obama’s weakness on everything from foreign policy to pistol duelling. If Obama protests that duelling is illegal in the United States, McCain can cite this as another example of unneeded government intervention in the affairs of ordinary citizens and possibly even a contravention of the Second Amendment.
* Look for the Republican nominee to trade in his Straight Talk Express bus for a Straight Talk Express World War I vintage biplane. Nothing says nonconformist iconoclast like an old guy with a red scarf and aviator goggles piloting a plane that’s as old as he is. Look for the barnstorming Republican candidate at an airfield near you.
* Sometime before November 4th, John McCain may take the unusual move of naming his entire Cabinet. Usually candidates wait until elected before taking this step. But McCain will say ‘Why wait?’ and name them all now so Americans know just what they can expect from a John McCain presidency. With everyone from Mitt Romney to Joe Leiberman to Arnold Schwazenegger, there’ll be a little something for everybody.
* If all else fails, McCain may try the ultimate maverick move and appear in the final debate with Obama in a North Vietnamese-style prisoner of war cage. Complete with a straw floor and wooden rice bowl, the prisoner cage will elicit strong images of heroism and patriotism. If Obama objects, McCain will simply agree that Obama can have his own POW cage as well, ‘if the wimp can handle it’.