Palin or Pawlenty
Pundits are making the wrong call when they look for the GOP vice-presidential candidate who will be best in policy in debates with Biden, or who will be a more useful attack dog. To be sure, those are important tasks. And it is true that Mitt Romney could do them very well — and that he spots Biden a bunch of I.Q. points, an education and a record of accomplishment. But can Mitt successfully empathize with the middle class for the duration of this campaign and after? He couldn't do it in the primaries. It isn't who he is.
Because Biden is essentially a mediocrity, McCain has more leeway than expected to choose someone who is not entirely prime-time ready. We are back to the two governors who are young, totally real, quintessentially middle class family guys, and, like Joe Biden, up from working class backgrounds: Sarah Palin of Alaska and Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota. She is less sophisticated, but is a walking testament to American middle class pluck and achievement. And she will pull some female Democrat voters in. He is smart, good on policy, and has an excellent, first-generation-to-college, up by the bootstraps story. Because they really are middle-class Americans, middle-class American voters are far more likely to believe it when either of them express empathy and a desire to tackle the nation's economic anxieties. That will be the campaign's central issue, and there is no faking it.
Romney's money and his sometimes-robotic persona are likely to be a stumbling block in this regard and, in my opinion, his economic credentials are not sufficient to overcome those issues.
The only hesitation I would have in Schiffren's opinion about potential VP selections is regarding Pawlenty. The times I have heard him speak, my thoughts have been: solid on policy, and a great antidote to insomnia. The man is a bore, and like it or not, John McCain has to think about personality as much as he does about policy.