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Who's "Qualified" in 2008?

Donald Boudreaux offers this response to Fareed Zakaria's recent column on Sarah Palin:

Fareed Zakaria (author of a truly fine book and columnist for the Washington Post) rightly argues that Sarah Palin is unqualified to be president of the United States (and, hence, by extension, unqualified to be V-P). Mr. Zakaria is correct that Gov. Palin's recent answer to a question about the economy "is nonsense - a vapid emptying out of every catchphrase about economics that came into her head." He's correct also that she's unfit to be entrusted with the power of the modern presidency.

But Mr. Zakaria is incorrect to suppose that these traits separate Gov. Palin from other candidates for high political office. Calls by Senators McCain and Obama for cracking down on "speculators" are full of classic and wrongheaded catchphrases, as is Sen. Obama's vocal skepticism about free trade. Gov. Palin is merely less skilled in passing off inanities and claptrap as profundities.

More importantly, no one is or ever can be "ready" or "qualified" to exercise power of the sort that is concentrated today in Washington. A country of 300 million persons, each with his or her own unique desires, talents, and knowledge, cannot be wisely regulated in the detail and intrusiveness demanded by the modern state.

Cornellian (mail):
More importantly, no one is or ever can be "ready" or "qualified" to exercise power of the sort that is concentrated today in Washington.

Presumably no one would question whether a compentent President, running for re-election, is "qualified" to be President.
9.29.2008 1:32pm
A.W. (mail):
Exactly. People always forget to look at both sides of the equasion. Its like Iraq. Anti-war types say X number of people have died, therefore it is bad. But that isn't clear thinking. You have to look at what would have happened if we did nothing, and the answer is that even more people would have been dead at Saddam's hands, even if he confined his violence to his own people.

I am not pleased with any of the choices for President in this cycle. But on any metric besides your personal policy preferences mccain outstrips obama, and I think Palin outstrips all of them (though that is a closer call). Personally i wanted a President Guiliani, but we don't always get what we want, right?
9.29.2008 1:43pm
stevefromontario (mail):
Ya, what about when Putin rears his head? What then. Right over Alaska - where does health-care reform go then? We're gunna make sure that dudn't happen!
9.29.2008 1:43pm
A.S.:
Exactly right. The vapidity of Sarah Palin is matched by the vapidity of Barack Obama. The reason Sarah Palin is attacked by the likes of Fareed Zakaria or David Post is fairly obvious: her gender. It is simply much more accpetable to attack a woman (especially a conservative, U of Idaho grad woman) in this day and age than it is to attack a man (especially a liberal, Harvard grad man).

One day the glass ceiling will be broken. But not until the likes of Fareed Zakaria and David Post have become comfortable with strong, powerful women.
9.29.2008 1:52pm
commontheme (mail):
Ya A.S., you tell 'em. We got some fixin' to do. And when Putin's health-care reform rears it's head over Alaska, well the American People are going to say to themselves that first things first.
9.29.2008 2:05pm
LarryA (mail) (www):
A country of 300 million persons, each with his or her own unique desires, talents, and knowledge, cannot be wisely regulated in the detail and intrusiveness demanded by the modern state.
Now, if we'd only realize that we don't need "the detail and intrusiveness demanded by the modern state."
9.29.2008 2:07pm
Al Maviva (mail):
You are unfairly picking on Senator Obama. He has nearly 170 working days of experience in the Senate, and before that was a state legislator in Illinois, which is one of our major states. That's nearly half as much senior political experience as John Edwards, one of the Wise Old Men of the Senate, had when he ran for VP. Mr. Obama has been a Senator since 2005 - in fact he is so experienced, that there are people alive today who were not alive when he took office. I hope he wins in this tough campaign against Ms. Palin, who clearly lacks his experience and distinguished track record...
9.29.2008 2:10pm
SPO:
If Palin isn't qualified, neither is Obama. And I don't recall anyone getting worked up about Edwards' qualifications either.
9.29.2008 2:10pm
is more adorable when backed into corners:
Glass ceiling? Clinton was the frontrunner in the media reporting for a while until it became clear that Obama was doing his primary homework and sewing up lots of victories. She's no Ferraro or Palin. She's a practiced polished politician and sounds like one.

To make sure you all understand Palin a bit better, first watch Fey's parody of the Couric interview, then watch Palin's actual interview. That is someone without a media polish and who does not understand how to speak to reporters/interviewers.

It's sad that Bush was a better policy speaker before he became President. The Bush media handlers that are prepping Palin are doing an awful job of it.
9.29.2008 2:11pm
ejo:
palin-how about howard "yeaargh"(sic?) dean, another mandarin of past electoral cycles.
9.29.2008 2:17pm
JHB:
@is more adorable when backed into corners:

CNN did the work for you.
9.29.2008 2:22pm
NR:
The second point (third paragraph) is sophistry. It may be that the "detail and intrusiveness demanded by the modern state" make it extremely difficult to govern, but when we speak of whether someone is "ready" or "qualified" to be president we are obviously speaking of their relative readiness and qualifications.

To take one easy example, I am completely unready and unqualified to be President of the United States -- compared with any of the actual candidates, compared with anyone with any serious understanding of politics, economics, and/or foreign policy, and probably compared with anyone else who reads and comments on this blog. If I ran anyway, and someone pointed out how pathetically unready and unqualified I am, it would be no response for me say that the job is too big for anyone to do well. This would only make sense if a candidate's knowledge, background, and experience truly made no difference in how he or she would govern, a claim I doubt the author is prepared to make.
9.29.2008 2:23pm
commontheme (mail):
This program actually gives more coherent answers than Palin:
http://interviewpalin.com/r1
9.29.2008 2:23pm
Brooks Lyman (mail):
"More importantly, no one is or ever can be "ready" or "qualified" to exercise power of the sort that is concentrated today in Washington. A country of 300 million persons, each with his or her own unique desires, talents, and knowledge, cannot be wisely regulated in the detail and intrusiveness demanded by the modern state."

While I certainly agree with LarryA that we don't need all that regulation (which is why I generally vote Republican, and would vote Libertarian if I thought their candidate had a snowball's chance in the hot place), it must be admitted that we have a sort-of solution to the problem: delegate authority. Not exactly a new concept!

The job of the executive then becomes that of regulating the regulators - a much more manageable proposition that can probably be handled by any of the P &VP candidates. At that level of complication, I suspect that Sarah Palin might well, with her experience as a mayor and governor, do better than any of the other three.

The main problem is to choose the correct philosophy of government. Do we want a nanny state - or a police state - or do we just want to be left alone to solve our problems by ourselves? What is the President (and the legislature, which sets up the system in the first place) going to tell the bureaucrats to do? And how are they to go about it - as public servants or as myrmidons of a police state?
9.29.2008 2:25pm
Smallholder (mail) (www):
A.S.,

Your knee-jerk attribution of sexism to Zakira et al. are more revealing of you than them. Dan Quayle was roundly excoriated as well. Obama's experience has been called into question.

Palin is being criticized because she has performed poorly.

Different people have reached different conclusions about the reasons behind this poor performance.

My previous position was: "She may not be able to answer policy questions because Alaska is different - as governor she hasn't had to think about or address many issues important to the lower 48." But she has now had intensive coaching for weeks and still performs like she did with Couric - on questions they had to have prepped for her. I'm starting to think the performance is as indicative of intellectual weakness as it is of ignorance.

This is not to say she's stupid; my take is that she's just not at the top end of the bell curve. McCain and Obama are both bright men - whether you agree with them or not. (Oh no, did I just note that McCain and Obama are men? A.S. will discover my sexist worldview! Aiiiieeeee!)

This is where the analogies to T.R. breakdown. Yes, T.R. was a short-term Governor who had experienced a meteoric rise. But - and this is a big but - T.R. was brilliant.
9.29.2008 2:25pm
Jim Hu:
Presumably no one would question whether a compentent[sic] President, running for re-election, is "qualified" to be President.

As I get older, the possibility of this ever happening seems more and more remote.
9.29.2008 2:27pm
Sarcastro (www):
Indeed, A.S.!

No one has ever criticized Obama cause of lack of experience. I can only assume this is not because of any partisan bias but due to gender bias, cause that's a much more sexy accusation!
9.29.2008 2:33pm
Brooks Lyman (mail):
Smallholder:

Maybe she has had too much coaching. Maybe they ought to just turn her loose with some general knowledge of the McCain positions and let her do it her way instead of trying to come up with the correct answers from all the intensive coaching.

Someone like Reagan might be enough of an actor to learn the lines quickly and make them his own, but most people need a lot more time to assimilate and internalize the material.
9.29.2008 2:34pm
Thurgood Marshall:
The conservatives have convinced me - Palin wins on "qualifications." Narrowly drawn categories, like "executive-branch government experience" must be weighted sufficiently high to avoid accounting for broader categories like "national governement experience" or even "apparent intelligence".

Certainly, we can't review our favorite past Presidents to determine the qualities we'd like to see repeated, because then we're just sexist (never mind that the same argument won't apply to race - that's different).

I'm still not clear why Tom Ridge isn't more "qualified" than Palin (12 years in congress, 6 years governor and 2 years executive branch cabinet secretary) but I'm sexist. Oh, he's pro-choice, never mind.
9.29.2008 2:47pm
very good advice:
as is Sen. Obama's vocal skepticism about free trade.

If by "skepticism" you mean "cheap demagoguery," then I agree.
9.29.2008 3:02pm
David Warner:
Smallholder,

TR was indeed brilliant, but his success as President may have had more to do with his willingness to defy his class to attend, and soon lead, rough-and-tumble ward meetings, and later to strike out for the frontier for first-hand experience in rugged individualism and to the front-lines of the Spanish American war for some lessons in courage and leadership. Teddy's grandnephew-in-law, far less brilliant, also far outshone Teddy himself in office.

As Larry Summers can tell you, the brilliance distribution curve is much shallower for males than females, so the odds of a politically gifted woman who also happens to be brilliant are vanishingly small. Nonetheless, women who have risen to the highest reaches of power throughout history, few brilliant, have thrived at a rate far outpacing men.
9.29.2008 3:20pm
Melancton Smith:
I suspect Palin's performance issues are due to too much handling. They need to let her be her. I'd rather have someone say they don't know something but will research it and get back to me than have them hedge around a non-answer.

Frankly, for me, her best qualification is her lack of experience. Look how screwed up Washington is...we've tried it the other way, now lets do something different.

Let's have real change. A break from the Career Washington insiders.

So what if she disagrees with McCain on any particular issue. Look at all those clips of Biden disagreeing with Obama and calling him unready. Those don't seem to be damaging Obama any.
9.29.2008 3:25pm
CB55 (mail):
A man and woman arrived at the gates of paradise and an angel gave them a hand shake of welcome.

"Management has always had it's eyes on you for higher calling," said the angel.

"That's right?", replied the man.

"Yeah you heard that from here, but there is only one lose end. Can you spell, Texas?"

"T-E-X-A-S". The man answered.

"Congrats. You are now the new president of the Andromeda Federation of Planets.

The man passed through the golden gate and smiled as he walked on.

The angel went back to his books and papers.

The woman pursed her lips. She cleared her throat.

"Ooo yeah, the main office wants you to explain the relevance of Earth's proximity to Mars and your foreign policy experience:

We have had these trade missions back and forth, we do. It's very important when you consider even national security issues with Mars. As the Martians rears their two heads and comes into near Earth orbit where do they go? It's Iowa. It's just the heart of America. It is from Iowa that we trade corn....those out side Iowa try to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful planet, Mars, because they are right there, they are right next to our corn."

"Welcome, madame vice president of Aurora"

"But Sir, you gave me a tough one...why me!"

Madame vice president, right or wrong answers are easy...but questions that have no right or wrong answers are hard....shall we stick with Aurora or do you wanna try spelling "llantysiliogogogoch" and choose what's behind door 1, 2 or 3 or go to the end of the line and start all over?
9.29.2008 3:32pm
Roger Schlafly (www):
Palin on Biden, today: 'I've been hearing about his Senate speeches since I was in, like, second grade'
9.29.2008 3:42pm
Nate in Alice:
Jonathan,

Can you honestly say that Palin is "merely" not trained, and that accounts for the difference in performance between her and McCainObamaBiden?

You can't. There is not sufficient evidence to make that claim. As it stands now, it's just as likely that she's not naturally skilled or intelligent enough to ever rise to the occasion of cheap political ploys necessary for a national political campaign. =)
9.29.2008 3:44pm
Michael Edward McNeil (mail) (www):
Daniel Kurtzman a dozen days back posted a rather typical Sarah Palin hit piece in the Huffington Post, in which he proffers the liberal laundry list of (mis)conceptions about her record, as usual with no alleviating context.

One of his supposed points was:

“500: the number of Fortune 500 companies Sarah Palin is not qualified
to run, according to McCain adviser Carly Fiorina.”

What this completely ignores is the fact that none of those executives in charge of Fortune 500 companies are themselves qualified to become Vice President or President of the nation, because high political office in this country requires political experience — being elected to something, something greater than dogcatcher — which Palin as the most popular governor in the nation, indubitably possesses.

It's also worth noting that Alaska's gross domestic product (2007) is more than $44.5 billion (federal BEA figures), while state government revenues (which Palin as governor administers) totaled more than $13.5 billion for 2008. On a corporate scale this is far from small potatoes, whilst GDP-wise, Alaska is bigger than many nations; larger than Serbia, for instance (some $42 billion as of 2007).

Another of Kurtzman's talking points was that Alaska receives more federal funds (“earmarks”) per capita than any other state. Alaska, however, though it has a relatively small population (about the same as that of Democratic V.P. candidate Senator Joe Biden's state of Delaware), is enormous both in sheer scale (superimposed on the contiguous U.S., Alaska would stretch from Los Angeles, California, in the southwest, to Charleston, South Carolina, in the southeast, to the North Dakota-Canadian border in the north), together with that arctic land's stupendous variety and environmental rigors — from the storm-tossed Bering Sea where dangerous commercial fishing is undertaken (half of all the fish taken in the western U.S. come from there), to the state's frigid interior where wintertime temperatures sometimes approach −80 ° F. (revisit that figure again: 150 Fahrenheit degrees below room temperature). Roads reach only a minority of the state, whilst an extensive state-run ferry fleet is required to support those residing in the vast Alexander Archipelago of the southeast as well as other island communities. Only aircraft can service much of the rest of the state. Alaska also has unusual defense requirements — recall who lies along its border — while one of the nation's two anti-ballistic missile defense systems is operational there. All these things cost money — per capita. Alaska ain't Delaware!

Moreover, Biden is a legislator and has never been an executive, while Palin administers the whole shebang — very successfully, according to her stratospheric approval ratings — 86% for Alaskans generally, and 75% even among Alaska Democrats: a most remarkable figure.
9.29.2008 3:57pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
If it weren't so sad, I would laugh about the defense of Sarah Palin. After all, SNL showed it is very funny.

Palin isn't just inexperienced. She's inexperienced plus ignorant, and there is no evidence that she ever educated herself on any issue other than the Gay Menace in the Wasilla Public Library. Even on energy, her statements are erroneous. She said Alaska produces 20 percent of the US energy, and the correct figure is 3.5 percent. Bobby Jindal doesn't have much experience, either, but at least he appears to have a passing familiarity with significant issues outside Baton Rouge.

What's left, and this, too, is a stitch, are conservative commenters, most with advanced degrees and even legal training, coming onto this thread to argue for the Moral Authenticity of Ignorance.
9.29.2008 4:06pm
hawkins:

Bobby Jindal doesn't have much experience, either, but at least he appears to have a passing familiarity with significant issues outside Baton Rouge.


And there is no doubting his intelligence, regardless of other reasonable criticisms that may exist.
9.29.2008 4:10pm
Floridan:
So this is what it has come down to: Sarah Palin is qualified because no one is qualified.

How embarrassing -- in that case why not have a lottery for president?
9.29.2008 4:12pm
Nate in Alice:
Everyone on the web who is a fan of Jindal dismissed the idea of him joining McCain's ticket because of his lack of experience--despite the fact that he is obviously intelligent, well-informed, and has the temperament to reassure people that he is ready to lead.

Now McCain picked someone with a similar level of experience, yet none of the other attributes, that Jindal has, and some of these same people are still spinning their tires in the mud trying to get traction with the idea that Palin was a serious, even wise, decision.

Remember who these spinsters are......
9.29.2008 4:20pm
Sarcastro (www):
[Floridan this is actually my position. Real world experience doesn't matter when it comes to the President, it's all about character, judgement and policies. President seems to me so removed from any other job you could have I don't think anything experience could prepare you for it.

That's why I've been avoiding the Palin threads.

You the same guy who posts on swampland?]
9.29.2008 4:23pm
DerHahn (mail):
Thurgood Marshall:
I'm still not clear why Tom Ridge isn't more "qualified" than Palin (12 years in congress, 6 years governor and 2 years executive branch cabinet secretary) but I'm sexist. Oh, he's pro-choice, never mind.


Since you have a ready explaination for why Tom Ridge isn't on the Republican ticket, care to explain why Bill Richardson isn't on the Democrat one?

Floridan
So this is what it has come down to: Sarah Palin is qualified because no one Barak Obama is qualified.

FTFY.
9.29.2008 4:26pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
This is all just plain silly. Obama has no more relevant experience than Palin does, and he is running for president, not vice president. And while Biden may have more relevant experience, he can't keep his mouth shut, and says stuff that makes Palin look wise.

If this all weren't political, we would be hearing daily about Obama's connections to any number of questionable people, how his biggest accomplishment before running for office was getting substandard loans for unqualified borrowers, and have a Biden gaffe of the day going.

The main stream media doesn't talk about Obama's record in the U.S. Senate because he hasn't done anything there (and has rarely been there), or the Ill. legislature because they would have to look at his voting record. They don't look at his CAC experience, because then they would have to look at how close he was to Ayers and what his "activism" was trying to accomplish (and how the CAC blew $160 million with no notable benefits).
9.29.2008 4:41pm
Jonathan H. Adler (mail) (www):
I don't take Don Boudreaux to be arguing "Palin is qualified because no one is qualified." Rather, I take his points to be that a) all the candidates spout economic nonsense, and b) no one can truly be "qualified" to run the federal government we have created. This is not an argument for Palin's qualifications (I doubt Don will vote for the McCain-Palin ticket, if he votes at all). At most it is an argument against some of the anti-Palin arguments.

JHA
9.29.2008 4:42pm
Nate in Alice:
Bruce,

I am so sick of this refrain that Palin = Obama, therefore Palin = okay. It's just ridiculous. Do you honestly think Palin could have run a 2 year long national campaign with 30 or so debates, countless interviews and press conferences, and demonstrated that she is literate in the major issues facing the country?

Then why has she been sequestered and have her interviews been absolutely disastrous.

You want to just compare resumes and expect everyone to ignore the fact that Obama has spoken about a plethora of things, explained detailed policy proposals, and answered questions in a difficult, even combative, atmosphere. But let's just compare resumes--for me, the HLS magna cum laude thing gets a lot more credit than 6 colleges in 5 years B.A. in communications.

Also, the 8 years in state senate plus 3 years in U.S. Senate seems more relevant than the small town mayor stint and 18 months in a small-state governor's office. But that's just me.
9.29.2008 4:46pm
richard cabeza:
So this is what it has come down to: Sarah Palin is qualified because no one is qualified.

To paraphrase an amusing blog post I read somewhere when she was nominated, "So Democrats want to play identity politics? Here you go: woman VP."
9.29.2008 4:55pm
David Warner:
Nate in Alice,

"Remember who these spinsters are......"

I'm not much for spin, but you can put me on your list of Palin defenders, though I'm not exactly sure what you're planning to do with your list. If anyone unfairly attacks you, I'll defend you, too.
9.29.2008 4:58pm
Asher (mail):
So this is what it has come down to: Sarah Palin is qualified because no one is qualified.

How embarrassing -- in that case why not have a lottery for president?


Exactly. She's no more qualified than any random person you might pull off the street. She ran a state so awash with money she never had to deal with budgetary problems, her supposed knowledge of energy doesn't come down to anything more than some experience working with oil drillers, I've never heard her say anything about education or healthcare - and sure, other politicians pass off inanities and claptrap. But at least they speak in diagrammable English sentences when doing so. A decent mind still counts for something.
9.29.2008 5:04pm
Michael Edward McNeil (mail) (www):
Andrew J. Lazarus (showing himself to be oh-so unbiased) sez:
If it weren't so sad, I would laugh about the defense of Sarah Palin. After all, SNL showed it is very funny.

Palin isn't just inexperienced. She's inexperienced plus ignorant, and there is no evidence that she ever educated herself on any issue other than the Gay Menace in the Wasilla Public Library. Even on energy, her statements are erroneous. She said Alaska produces 20 percent of the US energy, and the correct figure is 3.5 percent.


This is at most a minor misstatement. Alaska in 2007 produced more than 14% of the U.S.'s total oil (as opposed to energy) production. In 2005 it was a bit shy of 17%, in 2002 a bit more than 17%. Moreover, Alaska is capable of producing far more than that, not only from ANWR where large reserves exist, but from recently discovered vast resources off the Alaska coast in the Arctic Ocean.
9.29.2008 5:13pm
Smokey:
Jonathan Adler:
Fareed Zakaria rightly argues that Sarah Palin is unqualified to be president of the United States...
Well, then, it is obviously Fareed Zakaria who is ignorant, and unqualified to be quoted here.

Unless, of course, Zakaria can point out to us the qualifications in the U.S. Constitution -- the only qualifications that count -- which Governor Palin cannot meet.

Zakaria has proved himself to be a fool. But I really wonder why Mr. Adler would post Zakaria's constitutional ignorance... on a legal blog? What was he thinking??

Maybe Adler can comment on why Palin is "rightly" unqualified. Because, you know, he's a lawyer and all.

Explain away, Mr. Adler.

Make it good.
9.29.2008 5:27pm
Ed Scott (mail):
The posts on this forum suggest that qualifications for elected office are subjective. A lot of concern about what might happen, but no concern about the qualifications of the politician currently only "two heart-beats away" from the presidency.
9.29.2008 5:33pm
Smokey:
I see that the response was Boudroux's response to Zakaria [and apparently they both agree about qualifications]. But my request for a comment on exactly why Gov. Palin is unqualified to be President stands.
9.29.2008 5:33pm
William D. Tanksley, Jr:
Can you honestly say that Palin is "merely" not trained, and that accounts for the difference in performance between her and McCainObamaBiden? You can't. There is not sufficient evidence to make that claim.


There's obviously evidence that she's incompetent to be interviewed. OTOH, look for her gubernatorial campaign debates on YouTube; she comes across quite effectively there, and states her positions openly and honestly.

The difference between her interviews now versus what we see from the gubernatorial campaign is substantial. The cause is unclear. What is clear is that it's not because she's an idiot. She MAY be being misprepared in some way, but if she doesn't shake that off somehow, she's going to be as much to blame as the bunglers preparing her.
9.29.2008 6:10pm
Michael Edward McNeil (mail) (www):
Which is exactly what Bill Kristol had to say during yesterday's Fox News Sunday, in response to a question from host Chris Wallace:

Wallace: “Bill, the next big event — I mean, the one thing about these debates is we don't stay on them very long 'cause there's another event coming quickly — this Thursday, the big vice presidential debate between Palin and Biden. How nervous are the two camps — both camps — about their people they're putting up in this debate?”

Kristol: “Some of the McCain camp are nervous about Governor Palin, but they shouldn't be. They've totally mishandled her for the last week or two. Free Sarah Palin! Free Sarah Palin! That's what I say.

“McCain picked her because she was a good governor, a good politician, a good communicator. Let her be a politician. Let her communicate! Put her on TV, put her on radio, let her relax, let her go into the debate and try to win the debate.

“They've surrounded her with former Bush White House aides, who if I might say, in a way typical of the Bush White House, have gone into a total defensive crouch — ooh, let's not make mistakes, be very careful; Katie Couric, 9,000-part interviews — don't talk to any conservatives on talk radio or on television, that would be just talking to the people who might vote for you! Go get quizzed by Katie Couric and don't make a mistake!

“I hope, I think she's strong enough to overcome the very bad advice and very bad staff work that's surrounded her recently. I gather that Senator McCain isn't happy with the way his own team has been dealing with Governor Palin. I hope they free her over the next few days, and tell her, ‘Go win the debate with Joe Biden, and don't be defensive!’”
9.29.2008 6:30pm
Steve H (mail):
I don't think the issue is really one of experience, but rather one of preparation.

And Governor Palin is simply not prepared to be President, and, therefore, Vice President.

This has nothing to do with intelligence, but rather with the fact that Governor Palin has not shown any familiarity with federal governmental issues. As David Post pointed out, as of two months ago, Governor Palin probably had spent very little time concerning herself with the host of issues a President must face. And that's fine -- it wasn't her job.

It is true that we usually elect governors as President, and they usually don't have federal government experience, either. But these governors go through an intensive two-year election process which forces them to learn a great deal about the myriad issues a president must face. So even though most governors have little experience in federal government, they have to become knowledgable about the issues in order to get through the election.

As far as I know, no governor has been nominated as a major-party VP candidate since Spiro Agnew. Instead, VP nominees almost always seem to be Senators (or others with years of federal experience). I think the preparation angle may be why.
9.29.2008 6:57pm
Michael Edward McNeil (mail) (www):
So governors should never be selected for V.P.? LOL! What a joke.

This novel rewriting of the rules for presidential and vice presidential candidates is ludicrous. Indeed, the Vice President of the United States has essentially no duties. As then Vice President John Adams put it: "My country has in its wisdom contrived for me the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived; and as I can do neither good nor evil, I must be borne away by others and meet the common fate." ("On the Vice-Presidency of the United States," in a letter to Abigail Adams, 1793-12-19.)

Thus, if Palin actually becomes V.P., she'll have plenty of free time to come up to speed with regard to presidential issues.
9.29.2008 7:22pm
William D. Tanksley, Jr:
But these governors go through an intensive two-year election process which forces them to learn a great deal about the myriad issues a president must face.


For how long have we had two-year campaigns? I really don't know; I've always heard that our campaigns are getting longer than they were.

I'm also deeply in doubt about the idea that the campaign educates the candidate. I don't recall any candidate ever showing any signs of personal development while on the campaign trail. The decisions that need to be made there should be mainly about how to represent oneself; one can clearly see THOSE shift from time to time (as they should!).

If national knowledge were that much more important than executive experience, wouldn't we have a lot more ex-presidents who started as US senators than as state governors? There are certainly a LOT more US senators available at any given time!

As far as I know, no governor has been nominated as a major-party VP candidate since Spiro Agnew.


That's a very interesting statistic. I don't know why it should be, although it could be related to the fact that veeps are usually chosen to shore up a perceived weakness in the presidential candidate — if the candidate doesn't feel weak on executive issues there's no need to shore 'em up.
9.29.2008 7:31pm
Steve H (mail):

So governors should never be selected for V.P.?


No, but in my view, a governor who has spent no time in federal government, very little time as a governor, and no time becoming familiar with the issues a president must face should not be selected for VP unless there is some special reason.

Especially if the presidential candidate is 72 and has a history of cancer. (The Vice President may not have any official duties, but there is a non-negligible chance that Sarah Palin could be President of the United States less than four months from now.)

There are plenty of governors who have become familiar with federal issues through federal experience, long tenure, and/or campaign preparation. Governor Palin just happens not to be one of them.
9.29.2008 7:37pm
Michael Edward McNeil (mail) (www):
Time, “McCain's Healthy Prognosis,” 2008-05-23:
As he has criss-crossed the country for the past year, routinely putting in 16-hour days on the campaign trail, the 71-year-old John McCain has shown the physical endurance of a much younger man. […]

So it was that McCain, who, at 72 on Election Day, would be the oldest person elected President, was pressured to release more than 1,000 pages of his medical records, presumably every doctor notation of his well-being created since 2000. […]

The documents showed what McCain has long maintained: He is in remarkably good health for a man of his age and experience, despite a history of skin cancer, an enlarged prostate, some non-cancerous polyps in his colon, as well as lingering troubles with bladder and kidney stones.

“There is no way to accurately predict anyone's future health,” observed Dr. John D. Eckstein, McCain's personal physician in a conference call with reporters Friday afternoon. But Eckstein said he found no evident signs of medical problems that would prevent McCain from running the country. “We can find nothing in his history that would preclude him from serving as president of the United States with vigor,” he said. […]

A stress test of the heart earlier this year showed McCain to have the cardiovascular health of a younger man. A colonoscopy earlier this year resulted in the removal of some non-cancerous polyps. An examination of his skin in February, which he repeats every few months, discovered on his leg a non-invasive form of skin cancer, called a squamous cell carcinoma, which was “destroyed” earlier this month using liquid nitrogen. It was the fifth incidence of skin cancer for McCain. Only one of those cancers, a 2000 invasive melanoma on his left temple, was considered seriously life threatening. That cancer was removed in 2000, leaving a scar on his face. Connolly said that the chance of that cancer's recurrence was thought to be less than 10%, since so much time has passed without any new problems. […]

“Age,” [Eckstein] said, “should not be a limiting factor in this day and age.”
It's notable that McCain's mother is still not only living but vigorous at the advanced age of 96 — making McCain seem youthful in comparison.

Meanwhile, Obama has released not the file of his medical records (1,000 pages in the case of McCain) but a mere one-page letter — indicating no problems at present, but it's worth noting in O.'s case that his mother died at age 52, a mere five years older than Obama is now — of a virulent form of cancer, a disease which is extremely dependent for one's basic susceptibility on the genetic heritage inherited from one's parents. Moreover, Obama is a smoker.

As a result, the question of who is more likely to die in office if elected, Obama or McCain, is far from clear. Actuarily, however, McCain is likely to live for at least a dozen years yet.

Thus, as noted before, Sarah Palin should have plenty of time to get up to speed with regard to presidential issues.
9.29.2008 8:40pm
Floridan:
Smokey: "But my request for a comment on exactly why Gov. Palin is unqualified to be President stands."

Constitutionally she is qualified, but so are about fifty percent of native-born Americans.

Why not my brother-in-law? He's the kind of guy you would want to have a beer with.
9.29.2008 9:00pm
Bill McGonigle (www):
For many, Palin's best qualification is that she's among the first one hundred names in the Wasilla telephone book.
9.29.2008 9:07pm
Michael Edward McNeil (mail) (www):
Floridan:
Has your brother-in-law been elected governor of a state with a $44 billion GDP and $13 billion in state revenues? How's his popularity with the electorate holding up?
9.29.2008 9:14pm
Floridan:
MEM: "Has your brother-in-law been elected governor of a state with a $44 billion GDP and $13 billion in state revenues? How's his popularity with the electorate holding up?"

No, but he stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night!
9.29.2008 10:59pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
To make sure you all understand Palin a bit better, first watch Fey's parody of the Couric interview, then watch Palin's actual interview.


Good advice. It will be fun on Thursday to watch Palin do her impression of Tina Fey. Fey does such a good Palin that it's hard to tell them apart.

For the curious, here are some links. Here's Fey doing Palin with Couric: link. Here's Palin doing Palin with Couric: link, link.

Via jhb above, here's CNN doing the Fey/Palin comparison: link.

Via commontheme above, here's the interviewpalin site that creates computer-generated answers that are just as intelligent as Palin's: link.
9.29.2008 11:59pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
mcneil:

Palin administers the whole shebang — very successfully, according to her stratospheric approval ratings — 86% for Alaskans generally, and 75% even among Alaska Democrats: a most remarkable figure.


I think you're looking at pre-Troopergate numbers. Among Dems in Alaska, her approval rating is currently 36%. By the way, high ratings are not that hard to get when your predecessor was in a heap of trouble and you start out by sending everyone in the state a big check. From there, it's downhill all the way.

This is at most a minor misstatement.


Not understanding the difference between the words "oil" and "energy" is not "minor." This is what she actually said:

[Alaska] produces nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of energy


The statement is seriously incorrect, no matter how you look at it. And this is supposed to be her area of great expertise.

if Palin actually becomes V.P., she'll have plenty of free time to come up to speed with regard to presidential issues.


You're making unwarranted assumptions about McCain's life expectancy.

was pressured to release more than 1,000 pages of his medical records


That darn liberal media. It's quite a stretch to say that McCain did a "release" of his medical records. His medical records are still mostly a secret. A video on this subject has been viewed over 400,000 times.

It's notable that McCain's mother is still not only living but vigorous at the advanced age of 96


Although Roberta is doing great, McCain's father died at age 70. His paternal grandfather died at age 61. But I guess we should all just roll the dice and bet that his genes mostly came from Roberta. Because if we're wrong, Palin will have no trouble filling his shoes, right?

it's worth noting in O.'s case that his mother died at age 52


Good thing that Obama will have a Vice President. 14% of independents say they are "not at all" comfortable with Biden becoming president. The same figure for Palin: 35% (pdf).
9.29.2008 11:59pm
ohwilleke:
The notion that because no one is ever fully qualified to be President, that it doesn't matter how qualified a particular person is for the job, as Boudreaux suggests, is a terribly nihilist position, particularly for someone trying to boost the party of moral certainty and God given absolute truth.

No neurosurgeon has a 100% survival rate for his or her patients, but that doesn't mean that we should be dispatching janitors, orderlies, nurses, or pediatricians to be neurosurgeons.

Perhaps it is elitist, but I think that someone who is more intelligent, and actually understands foreign policy and economics better, is prone to make better decisions about those issues.
9.30.2008 1:04am
Brian G (mail) (www):
I tried to read one of Zkaria's books a few years ago. Talk about being unqualifed to write an interesting book.
9.30.2008 2:07am
Michael Edward McNeil (mail) (www):
Not understanding the difference between the words "oil" and "energy" is not "minor."

A misstatement is not the same as “not understanding” (and I'm sure you've never made a misstatement in your life — not). Palin was appointed to Alaska's Oil and Gas Commission in 2002, chairing the commission starting in 2003 — a time when Alaska's oil production did approach 20% of the U.S. total. Notice too that this figure does not include natural gas, which Alaska also produces a vast amount of, most of which is presently wasted for lack of a pipeline to deliver it to markets.

Since Palin's eventful tenure on the Oil and Gas Commission (she ultimately resigned over corruption by fellow Republicans), one of her major accomplishments as governor of the state has been to negotiate the construction and sign into law a bill providing for a $26 billion, more than 1,700 mile long natural gas pipeline to extend from Alaska through Canada to the contiguous U.S. Expected to carry more than 6 billion cubic feet of gas per day, this alone would constitute some 8% of total present U.S. natural gas production.

Thus, it's the person who insists that Palin's merely ignorant on the question that's the one being stupid, not Sarah. 'Course I've come to that conclusion before about ‘Jukeboxgrad’….
9.30.2008 4:39am
Michael Edward McNeil (mail) (www):
Although Roberta is doing great, McCain's father died at age 70. His paternal grandfather died at age 61.

Obama's and McCain's fathers' lifespans cannot be directly compared, because Obama's dad died in a car crash and not of “natural” causes. Moreover, McCain's dad died more than a quarter century ago, his grandfather almost two-thirds of a century ago.

Folks might like to peruse this recent article on the enormous medical advances that have occurred over the last half century. As recently as 1955, the prescription his physician advised when the President of the United States underwent a heart attack was that his wife to cuddle with him at night to keep him warm. It's noteworthy that just in the single year between 2005 and 2006, the average lifespan in this country increased by four months — one-third of a year — nor is that atypical.
9.30.2008 5:17am
Michael Edward McNeil (mail) (www):
Although Roberta is doing great, McCain's father died at age 70. His paternal grandfather died at age 61.

Obama's and McCain's fathers' lifespans cannot be directly compared, because Obama's dad died in a car crash and not of “natural” causes. Moreover, McCain's dad died more than a quarter century ago, his grandfather almost two-thirds of a century ago.

Folks might like to peruse this recent article on the enormous medical advances that have occurred over the last half century. As recently as 1955, the prescription his physician advised when the President of the United States underwent a heart attack was that his wife to cuddle with him at night to keep him warm. It's noteworthy that just in the single year between 2005 and 2006, the average lifespan in this country increased by four months — one-third of a year — nor is that atypical.
9.30.2008 5:17am
Michael Edward McNeil (mail) (www):
Sorry for the double posting; my finger jiggled when I hit the button.
9.30.2008 5:18am
Michael Edward McNeil (mail) (www):
It's quite a stretch to say that McCain did a "release" of his medical records. His medical records are still mostly a secret.

A selected group of reporters, including from the Washington Post (that bastion of pro-McCain advocacy, don't'cha know), were given the opportunity to peruse McCain's complete 1,200-page medical record, which is a lot more than anybody but his own physician has been able to do with Obama's history (whose doctor's medical characterization letter constituted a mere quarter of 1,000 words). It's also worth noting, according to that report, that Obama hasn't even had a physical since January 2007.
9.30.2008 5:35am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
A misstatement is not the same as "not understanding"


When they pile up, it starts to look like "not understanding." Now I see that McCain has trouble remembering that oil and coal are not the same thing.

natural gas pipeline


Hopefully she planned that deal more carefully than the hockey rink:

Palin's Hockey Rink Leads To Legal Trouble in Town She Led … the city began building roads and installing utilities for the project before it had unchallenged title to the land. The misstep led to years of litigation and at least $1.3 million in extra costs for a small municipality with a small budget. What was to be Ms. Palin's legacy has turned into a financial mess that continues to plague Wasilla.


Ready, fire, aim. Oops!

given the opportunity to peruse McCain's complete 1,200-page medical record


For a few hours. With severe restrictions. No copies. No electronic devices. What's he hiding?
9.30.2008 11:45am
David Warner:
Steve H,

"And Governor Palin is simply not prepared to be President, and, therefore, Vice President."

Whoa, slow down there, Stevie! The preparation you speak of can take place in the course of executing her duties as VP, or not - as was the case with Truman, who turned out to be a pretty fair Prez despite his disqualifications on the implied astroturf talking points scale.

Actuarial tables say that McCain would run a 12% risk of dying some time in his term. If one believes that there is no way Palin could ever be qualified, it would only require a 13% Obama edge in the question of which Presidential Candidate might turn out to be unqualified to outweigh the terrifying Palin case.

So for partisan Palin-haters: either your logic is flawed or you're playing games. Either way - give it a rest and back your guy.
9.30.2008 1:20pm
R Gould-Saltman (mail):
snark follows.

This just in: Palin prep pays off with public appearance
9.30.2008 2:27pm
TokyoTom (mail):
Jon, while Don has a good point that incompetence to govern is rather widespread, it's ultimately a feeble one - as Republicans are not making the point that many problems require LESS governance for precisely that reason. Rather, MCCain/Palin are arguing that problems require their firm hand, and are looking like idiots.
9.30.2008 9:46pm
Michael Edward McNeil (mail) (www):
Jukeboxgrad sez:
For a few hours. With severe restrictions. No copies. No electronic devices. What's he hiding?

Given, as noted before, that Obama has released nothing, “Jukeboxgrad” thereby beclowns and becomes a caricature of himself.
10.2.2008 12:00am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
mcneil:

Obama has released nothing


You have an odd concept of "nothing." Obama released a detailed statement from the physician who has been treating him for 21 years.

Also, Obama is not a 72-year old cancer survivor. Also, Obama's running mate is someone who can take over for him. McCain cannot make the same claim. These are other reasons your comparison is asinine.

beclowns


You obviously have a lot of trouble getting your facts straight, so the clown is you. Speaking of inventing your own facts, we're still waiting for you to explain why you overstated Palin's approval rating by 39%.
10.3.2008 11:57am