In a remarkable and wholly unprecedented display of support for maverick John McCain's pick of Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate, leaders across the country have announced similar moves.
Typical was the bombshell dropped by GE chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt, who is already noted for turning the company's culture toward more innovation and risk-taking. He said the GE Board has selected as his successor Stephanie Abrams, 29, a meteorologist for recently acquired The Weather Channel.
"Stephanie impressed me with her drive," said Immelt, who first met Abrams when she hit into his foursome at a 2007 charity golf tournament. They met for the second time last Friday, when Immelt offered her the vice chairmanship of the $100B diversified giant.
"It's time to shake things up, and I think people who've spent their whole careers managing business units and hitting their numbers tend to play it too safe," he said.
Abrams will delay assuming her new role until after Hurricane Gustav finishes devastating New Orleans. "We have a lot of customers along the Gulf Coast, and we want to show them some respect," said Immelt.
The spontaneous tsunami of corporate and institutional change in top jobs has by all accounts been entirely heartfelt and not coordinated with the McCain campaign.
"It just felt right to me," said News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch, who tapped conservative fatwa columnist and Hot Air news mogul Michelle Malkin as his number two. Andrew Sullivan was reportedly also under consideration until advisors convinced Murdoch — who was intrigued by The Atlantic writer's crossover appeal — that Sullivan would more likely drive away his core audience and advertisers, while failing to bring new ones.
Not all the dramatic announcements involved top management picks. Delta and Northwest airlines, faced with how to cut costs while merging their operations, will move furloughed flight attendants into co-pilot jobs.
"Our flight attendants have logged hundreds of thousands of miles on the largest aircraft in the sky, while keeping passengers comfortable and safe," said NWA CEO Doug Steenland. "Customer surveys tell us having a woman on the flight deck makes passengers feel good about flying."
The company would not comment on a possible replacement for Steenland, formerly a transportation attorney who is not expected to remain with the merged airline. However, inside sources privately say Delta president Ed Bastian was scheduled to meet with the e-commerce manager of The Hobby Lobby International on Monday.
"Everyone at The Hobby Lobby just raves about her," one source said.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the College of Cardinals said there was no truth to the rumor that Pope Benedict XVI had initiated discussions about his successor.
"That would be entirely inappropriate," he said. "First, it might be seen as trying to influence an American election. Second, women cannot be priests, so how could one become pope? But there is an altar boy in Ravenna we've already got an eye on."