Some conservative pundits are hitting the panic button over Palin because she apparently didn’t perform well in a segment or two in an interview or two. They’ve even urged her to withdrawal, which is absurd. Even if she’s unqualified, for McCain’s Veep to step down 5 weeks before the general election would inflict incalculable and irreparable harm to his campaign.
In addition, no one is going to remember her performance in a couple of interviews. For better or worse, her performance in tonight’s debate will eclipse anything she said in a couple of interviews.
According to conventional wisdom, the basic qualification to be Vice President is that you can step in at a moment’s notice and take over the presidency.
I happen to think that’s a reasonable standard, and, at this point in her career, Palin would be underqualified to fill in for McCain.
But, as a practical matter, voters have never held a Vice Presidential candidate to that standard. And that’s because they’ve never even held a Presidential candidate to that standard.
We already knew, going into the interviews, that Palin was not a foreign policy wonk—or even a national policy wonk. And there’s a simple reason for that: she’s a governor. By definition, most governors don’t have much, if any, foreign policy or national policy experience. Yet, by my count, 18 of the 43 US presidents were governors. Nearly half of our presidents.
Many pundits are holding Palin to a standard they never held any other candidate to. And Palin isn’t even running for the top job.
Palin has good values and good instincts. That’s more than I can say for either Obama or Biden. In that respect, the opposition is less qualified.
Unless McCain drops dead the day after his inauguration, Palin will have plenty of time to get up to speed on the issues. And if she were to assume the presidency, she would have many advisors. Indeed, that’s why Obama picked Biden.
Politics isn’t fair. Perception is reality. If, tonight, Palin commits a major gaffe on domestic or foreign policy, the media will be unforgiving (although it will give Biden a pass for a similar gaffe).
But this wouldn’t come as a shocking revelation. We knew all along that she wasn’t a national or foreign policy wonk. That’s because she’s a governor. That’s not something you expect to find in the resume of a governor. And the electorate has often promoted a governor to the White House.