For the record, I don’t think Sarah Palin will be removed from the ticket. Sure, the wide-ranging menu of scandals and oddities that have surfaced in the past couple of days provide a lot of reason to think that McCain will reverse course, and the fundraising energy she’s injected into his campaign will be rendered moot by his accepting public financing for the general election. But replacing her would be a simultaneous admission of failure and slap in the face to the conservative base, not to mention it would continue discussion of how awful a pick it was. It’s just inconceivable that McCain would win after replacing his VP, and she would have to become extremely toxic for McCain to kick her off and hence cede the race.
But given as Intrade is putting the odds of her withdrawing at 13%, Josh Green took the time to write a piece on the mechanics of replacing her post-convention, and Rachel Maddow, who is Right About Everything, is saying she might even be dropped tomorrow or Thursday, it’s worth considering who McCain’s fall-back would be. I can’t imagine any plausible 2012 candidates – Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Fred Thompson, Rudy Giuliani, Bobby Jindal, Tim Pawlenty, John Thune, etc. – signing on. Sure, Sargent Shriver ran in 1976, but he was absolutely crushed. Not that Giuliani or Thompson’s fates would be any different, but I’d imagine even they’re smart enough to know that being involved with the Palin fiasco would be a major blow to their chances. The same logic applies for anyone who wants non-presidential office in the future, from Meg Whitman (governor of California) to Kay Bailey Hutchison (governor of Texas) to Rob Portman (governor of Ohio) to Charlie Christ (US Senate).
That leaves pretty slim pickings. My guess would be either Tom Ridge or Joe Lieberman. Lieberman knows that he’s persona non grata in any Democratic administration, and most Republican ones, and so McCain is his only shot out of the Senate, however unlikely. Similarly, Ridge could conceivably attempt to replace Arlen Specter in the Senate, but given his abortion views and age this is his last chance at getting on a national ticket, which it’s pretty clear he wants. They’re the two people who have very little to lose from agreeing to join the ticket. Both would provoke mass revolt among movement conservatives, but given the insult they would have already felt with the booting of Palin, they’d already be pretty pissed by this point. Moreover, just as McGovern turned to the anti-choice Shriver as a last-ditch try for the center, McCain could use a pro-choice pick to try to scrape out a slightly bigger slice of the independent vote.