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On the Announcement Timing

Media coverage of Obama's speech will return, but now we can see the McCain campaign's full strategy with the running-mate rollout. Part of it has to do with when, but more importantly, it also has to do with who. Had McCain chosen Mitt Romney or Tim Pawlenty, the announcement will likely still have dominated today's coverage. But the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate have been so thoroughly documented, and their selection so foreordained, that the media would have met it, if not with a yawn, than with a lack of enthusiasm.

Sarah Palin is a different kind of candidate. She's been analyzed as a running mate, yes, but not so thoroughly as the others. In other words, pundits weren't already blue in the face talking about her. Even her weaknesses, and they are considerable, are exciting: How will Palin match up against Joe Biden; will Palin's firing scandal be an issue; what about her experience?

Moreover, it's what Palin's selection says about how the McCain campaign is thinking about this race, and how it intends to win it, that is equally as fascinating. She mentioned the "18 million cracks" in the ceiling; she actually had Republicans applauding Hillary Clinton. Just when this race couldn't get more exciting, the McCain campaign has pumped a megadose of adrenaline into it. Again, neither Romney nor Pawlenty could not have done that.

So now we know why the campaign was so meticulous is keeping this one a secret up until an hour before it introduced her to the world. The Obama campaign, known for its discipline, must be looking on in admiration today, even as they fire up the oppo research team. Score one for the McCain team. Eyes will be on St. Paul.

I wrote before that the timing wasn't going to be a big deal in the end. It still may not be, in the larger scheme. But I also was assuming that McCain would go with a conventional pick, like Romney or Pawlenty. But I admit that if Palin's name had leaked yesterday, it would have had less impact.