The risk John McCain took last Friday is comparable to the 72-year-old ex-fighter pilot knocking back two shots and flying his F-16 under the Golden Gate Bridge.
McCain's choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to be his co-pilot was the biggest gamble in presidential history. As of now, it is paying off, big-time.
The sensational selection in Dayton, Ohio, stepped all over the big story from Denver -- Barack Obama's powerful address to 85,000 cheering folks in Mile High Stadium, and 35 million nationally, a speech that vaulted him from a 2-point deficit early in the week to an 8-point margin. Barack had never before reached 49 percent against McCain.
As the Democrats were being rudely stepped on, however, Palin ignited an explosion of enthusiasm among conservatives, Evangelicals, traditional Catholics, gun owners and Right to Lifers not seen in decades.
By passing over his friends Joe Lieberman and Tom Ridge, and picking Palin, McCain has given himself a fighting chance of winning the White House that, before Friday morning, seemed to be slipping away. Indeed, the bristling reaction on the left testifies to Democratic fears that the choice of Palin could indeed be a game-changer in 2008.
Liberals howl that Palin has no experience, no qualifications to be president of the United States. But the lady has more executive experience than McCain, Joe Biden and Obama put together.
None of them has ever started or run a business as Palin did. None of them has run a giant state like Alaska, which is larger than California and Texas put together. And though Alaska is not populous, Gov. Palin has as many constituents as Nancy Pelosi or Biden.
She has no foreign policy experience, we are told. And though Alaska's neighbors are Canada and Russia, the point is valid. But from the day she takes office, Palin will get daily briefings and sit on the National Security Council with the president and secretaries of state, treasury and defense.
She will be up to speed in her first year.
And her experience as governor of Alaska, dealing with the oil industry and pipeline agreements with Canada, certainly compares favorably with that of Barack Obama, a community organizer who dealt in the mommy issues of food stamps and rent subsidies.
Where Obama has poodled along with the Daley Machine, Palin routed the Republican establishment, challenging and ousting a sitting GOP governor before defeating a former Democratic governor to become the first female and youngest governor in state history.