John McCain surprised the world Friday by selecting Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. He did this on his 72nd birthday.

The governor herself is 44 years old, the mother of five, including a baby with Down syndrome. She used to be a sportscaster and ran a commercial fishing operation before she entered politics. She is pro-life, a member of the National Rifle Association, and has successfully challenged oil corruption in Alaska, sometimes going after fellow Republicans. She is for drilling in ANWR.

But Gov. Palin is not without problems. She's currently under investigation for allegedly trying to get her ex-brother-in-law fired from the Alaskan state police and dismissing Alaska's public safety commissioner after he would not do that. That investigation is ongoing. She denies any wrongdoing.

Also, she has been governor for just two years. Before that, she was mayor of a small town. So she has scant experience for a vice presidential pick.

This story has obviously stolen the spotlight from Barack Obama's speech, but his presentation is very important and worth analyzing. The senator convinced me Thursday night that his intentions are good, but he lost me in two important areas. Here's the first one:


BARACK OBAMA: When John McCain said we could just muddle through in Afghanistan, I argued for more resources and more troops to finish the fight against the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11 and made clear that we must take out Usama bin Laden and his lieutenants if we had them in our sights. You know, John McCain likes to say he'll follow bin Laden to the gates of hell, but he won't even follow him to the cave where he lives.


What exactly does that mean? That McCain won't try to get bin Laden? That Obama will invade Pakistan? Nobody knows. And on a subject as vital as bin Laden and Al Qaeda, general comments like those are simply not worthy.

Obama lost me on another vital topic as well:


OBAMA: I will set a clear goal as president. In 10 years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East.


But Obama did not say how he's going to end that dependence, other than throwing $150 billion — with a "B" — into some kind of vague alternative energy deal. Enough with the money outlay, senator. You have to come up with a specific plan for many people to vote for you.

Now on the good side, Obama was strong on protecting Americans who are ill.


OBAMA: As someone who watched my mother argue with insurance companies while she lay in bed dying of cancer, I will make certain those companies stop discriminating against those who are sick and need care the most.


Now most Americans will identify with that. The American health care industry, including insurance companies, need oversight. There is no question about it.

Obama also promised to give 95 percent of American families a tax cut, which is very specific. Realistic? I don't know.

On balance, Obama's speech appealed to the Democratic philosophy of big government protections and spending to cure problems. Republicans will scoff, but that's what the Democratic Party believes. And Obama's appeal to the core may be enough to get him elected. His speech certainly did not hurt him.

And that's "The Memo."

Pinheads & Patriots

On this third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina smashing the Gulf Coast in New Orleans, our pal James Carville swung into action. He, along with CNN commentator Donna Brazile and actor John Larroquette, all from New Orleans, held a big fund-raiser to help those still suffering in the area. So for that, they are patriots.

On the pinhead front, listen to President Carter:


JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think that John McCain is milking every possible drop of advantage from that unfortunate experience in his early military life.


Yes, well, heroism is a plus for a president, is it not? Mr. Carter may have made a pinheaded remark perhaps, or maybe I'm wrong.

You can catch Bill O'Reilly's "Talking Points Memo" and "Pinheads & Patriots" weeknights at 8 and 11 p.m. ET on the FOX News Channel and any time on foxnews.com/oreilly. Send your comments to: oreilly@foxnews.com