In 1992, Bill Clinton was The Man from Hope. Barack Obama has portrayed his life as The Audacity of Hope. When you look at Senators Obama and McCains vice presidential picks, though, you have what might best be characterized as the Irony of Hope. Prior to the announcement of their respective running mates, the public impression of the two presidential nominees and the thematic emphasis of their campaigns were polar opposites. Obamas youthful exuberance; finely manicured image and refined cool style; emphasis on judgment rooted in intellectual rigor; the generational shift he led within Democratic Party leadership; and opposition to general Republican principals and Bush Administration policies specifically was summed up in his campaign motto, Change We Can Believe In. In sharp contrast, McCain presented himself as the seasoned and experienced hand; a national security and foreign policy sage that brought years of military and legislative experience to the table; having abandoned his image as a maverick he appeared to be just another staid Republican that had adopted Conservative principals for political expediency; ultimately he was a curmudgeonly graying warrior doggedly pursuing one last mission. His campaign motto, Putting America First was lifted from the decades old Republican playbook and was as unimaginative as it was uninspiring. These distinct and polar opposite public impressions of the two created as many negatives as they did positives for the two campaigns. While Obama was the candidate of change, questions concerning his experience and preparedness to lead still haunted him from the contentious Democratic primaries. Having served in the Senate for only two years prior to announcing his run for the presidency, his limited exposure to national security and foreign policy issue increasingly appeared as a liability in the general election. McCain, on the other hand, suffered from a lack of enthusiasm, both among the general public and a Republican base that was demoralized from the abysmal public opinion ratings of President Bush; uncertain of McCains Conservative credentials and sincerity; and beleaguered by the seemingly daily insistence of the media that the race was over for all intents and purposes with Obamas victory being a foregone conclusion. Conventional wisdom held that a stereotypical Rich White Guys Only Republican ticket stood no chance against a Democratic ticket led by the modern political equivalent of an intellectually superior and electoral astute Rat Pack member. Confounded by their respective conundrums, both Obama and McCain saw their choice of running mate as an opportunity to address the negative aspects of their campaign personas head on. Like Bush before him, Obama turned to one of his partys elder statesmen to provide him the gravitas and depth his resume lacks; Delaware Senator Joe Biden. Biden - with 35 years in the Senate - is an individual of substance and experience on the key issues of national security, military affairs and foreign policy. Though the country has turned its gaze back to the heartland, to leave his flank exposed on such critical issues would have invited Republican attacks that may have ultimately gained traction and inflicted serious electoral damage on the Democratic nominee. By turning to the proverbial party warhorse and elder statesman Biden, Obama seeks to reassure the electorate that change doesnt equate danger. Having been pilloried over recent months for abandoning his maverick roots and settling into the staid hounds-tooth of stereotypical Republicans, even while being assailed by the Republican base for not being conservative enough, McCains choice of Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin has unexpectedly shaken the political landscape. In the process, he has boldly moved to establish his bona fides on both fronts. Passing over a list of white men many with far longer and more substantive resumes McCains choice of Palin is both tactically and strategically inspired. Tactically, it creates buzz and excitement around a campaign that appeared to be an uninteresting rehash of Republican Party electoral greatest hits. Gasps of disbelief and surprise have replaced yawns of indifference and boredom. Though the announcement of the pregnancy of Palins 17 year-old daughter, Bristol, has added an unexpected and sensational element to the buzz, it is buzz nonetheless. Furthermore, Palins selection dispels the impression of the Republican Party as a Rich White Men Only Electoral Club. In picking the photogenic female Governor, McCain revives his maverick image; willing to buck the conventional wisdom and the seasoned advice of status quo Republican Pooh-Bahs. Ultimately, McCain has chosen to sacrifice experience in exchange for shoring up the base and the excitement and electricity the first female Republican vice presidential nominee brings to the ticket. When choosing a running mate, presidential nominees hope to at the very least do themselves no harm, while trying to gain whatever limited benefit there is to be had. In truth, McCain and Obamas selections have more in common with their opponents than with themselves. Governor Palins resume is equally light to that of Senator Obamas. Meanwhile, Senators McCain and Biden have more years of combined Congressional service than the age of either of their running mates. Accordingly, one would not be out of line to surmise that the two second seaters would have more to discuss with the head of the opposing ticket than with their own running mates. In the end, in an attempt to address their own shortcomings by embracing the strengths of their opponents, McCain and Obama have unwittingly highlighted a heretofore little discussed aspect of hope; its irony. Its Swingers Night at the Electoral Club, faithful readers. Lets swap running mates and let the fun begin! Stay tuned for further updates as events warrant and the irony of hope gives way to the agony of defeat.