Thursday, October 02, 2008

Panic over Palin

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.



    According to actuaries McCain has a 94.5% chance of surviving his first term.
    So all this 'heartbeat away from the presidency' stuff is sheer madness.

  2. Steve,

    An ethical question:

    If Obama is elected, does Acts 23:5 apply?

  3. S&S,

    1. We shouldn’t defame a ruler by launching into slanderous or scurrilous attacks. But we’re at liberty to voice accurate criticisms of a ruler. As you know, the Bible is loaded with some very negative evaluations of certain rulers.

    2. As a ruler in the 1C is not the same thing as a ruler in a Republican Democracy, like the US. They didn’t have popular sovereignty back in the 1C. And the OT priesthood was a divine institution. Under our system, a ruler is a public servant who serves at the pleasure of the electorate.

  4. Was it ethical for our Lord to refer to Herod as "that fox"?

    I don't think the context of Exodus 22 or Acts 23 permits generalization to secular rulers. The commandment has more to do with spiritual authority, as I see it.

  5. I think many believe that moral fiber trumps experience when it comes to leadership.

    That is not to say that the ability to lead is unimportant; rather it assumes that since experience will be gained regardless -- and since moral fortitude is more likely to diminish with power than it is to increase - it seems wiser to elect a morally superior leader than a more experienced, but morally inferior politician.

    I could be wrong of course, but given this seems obvious to me, I anticipate that the debate (given the liberal bias of the media) is going to limit questions that expose the moral character of the candidate.

    I think Palin will do far better in the debate if is candid about her experience, and focuses on why she (and not someone more experienced) was nominated for this position. She represents conservative morals being brought to the table, and she isn't coming to the federal arena as a business-as-usual insider; rather she was selected because she wasn't an insider, and because reform is a word she has not shied away from in the past.

    If US citizens are looking for a business as usual government, then Biden should be the last person they want in the VP chair. You can't have it both ways.

    I am a Canadian though, so I am rather ignorant of the whole affair, except for these superficial observations I am making here.

  6. No one ever asks about Biden and if he is ready to take over, since he's only one heartbeat away from being Prez, if OBiden win. It's nearly as likely...