Republican Lament: What If Sarah Palin Never Happened?

Now that it’s clear that Sarah Palin, on the whole, has been more of a liability than an asset to John McCain, the following question becomes almost irresistible: What if McCain had picked someone else?

“I think the dynamics would be different in Pennsylvania,” that state’s former governor, Tom Ridge, acknowledged a few days ago when asked how the G.O.P. might have fared had he been part of it. “I think we’d be foolish not to admit it publicly.”

McCain’s final, Hail Mary attempt at engineering a November victory now hinges on somehow winning Pennsylvania, a state that hasn’t voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1988 and where he now trails Barack Obama by about ten points in most polls. Whether the mere presence of Ridge, who last stood for election in the state in 1998, would be enough to erase that gap is doubtful, but he surely would have helped more than Palin has.

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