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Was Palin A Responsible Choice ?

by @ 9:14 am on August 30, 2008. Filed under 2008 Election, John McCain, Politics, Sarah Palin

The National Review’s David Frum argues no:

Vice-presidents have historically made surprisingly little difference to the outcome of presidential elections. The elder Bush picked Dan Quayle in 1988 in hopes of wooing younger voters, much as Walter Mondale had chosen Geraldine Ferraro in 1984, in an effort to mobilize women, and George McGovern had hoped that Sargent Shriver would stanch his losses among Catholics in 1972.

None of these gambits worked. Ms. Ferraro did not deliver women, Mr. Quayle did not deliver youth, and Catholics defected to Nixon in 1972.

Where vice-presidents – and especially Republican vice-presidents – make an enormous difference is after the election.

Since the Second World War, 10 men have received the Republican nomination for vice-president. Three of those men – Richard Nixon, Bob Dole and George H.W. Bush – continued on to win the presidential nomination for themselves, and two actually became president. (A fourth nominee, Thomas Dewey’s 1948 running mate, Earl Warren, rose to arguably even greater power as chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. And you could add a fifth case: Gerald Ford went on to the presidency after being appointed vice-president in 1973.)

Should John McCain lose in November, Sarah Palin has just pole-vaulted into front-runner status for 2012. Should Mr. McCain win, her grip on the next Republican nomination will become a lock.

So this is the future of the Republican party you are looking at: a future in which national security has bumped down the list of priorities behind abortion politics, gender politics, and energy politics. Ms. Palin is a bold pick, and probably a shrewd one. It’s not nearly so clear that she is a responsible pick, or a wise one.

The only part of Frum’s analysis I disagree with is his analysis of Palin’s future if the Republican ticket loses this year. Will she be a candidate for President ? Possibly, just like Dan Quayle was a candidate in 1996. Like Quayle, however, I couldn’t see her pole-vaulting, to use Frum’s term, over men like Romney or Huckabee, who have already proven their mettle in Republican primaries, and their ability to attract votes. If McCain/Palin doesn’t win this year, it seems to me that it would be hard for Governor Palin to argue that she is suddenly the front-runner in 2012.

If McCain wins, however, she will be a front-runner in 2016, or perhaps in 2012 should McCain choose not to run for re-election. Not to mention the fact that, beginning on 20 January 2009, she will literally be a heartbeat away from the Presidency.

Like Frum, I’m not entirely sure that is a good thing.

12 Responses to “Was Palin A Responsible Choice ?”

  1. Better Palin a hearbeat away than Obama with a pulse in the job from day one.

  2. James,

    And maybe people will say that.

    However, to a large degree, I think that McCain has taken the experience issue off the table by picking someone with even less experience than the guy he’s running against.

  3. Zen Bonobo says:

    We are now in a period of “the result of limitations”. The current occupant of the Oval Office is not a bright and shining star when it comes to effective leadership requiring a depth of personal ability or an ability to delegate for more optimal outcomes. Serving a narrow interest with inflexibility and without regard to the wider consequences of global decisions, this administration has put the US in a less than optimal contending position when operating in the wide world.

    Palin is limited in experience and world awareness. She appeals to stridency and certitude of conviction within a narrow range of experience. She is a beauty queen who can run a campaign and pull the trigger on a hunting rifle. Her civil management abilities seem to have topped out to date with a failed community project in the town where she was mayor. Her rise to governor of Alaska may seem flukey to many but it is the norm for Alaska.

    If I were less cynical, I would hesitate to point out that having a son in the military and due to see duty in Iraq just may have been a major over riding component in the decision set. As this is the case, military son, she matches but does not quite trump the same situation in the Biden family.

    Viewing this from an organizatiopnal perspective, this selection is a desperate one and one that will leave Palin eminently qualified to be tapped for a minor deputy cabinet post in some future Republican administration.

    Leadership based on limitation and stridency is not a qualifier for a responsible and responsive US presence on the world stage. It leads to debacle.

  4. Doug: Why do we have to disagree on fundamentals every now and then?

    Palin has much more experience in every aspect of life – except being a corrupt Chicago Pol – and for every aspect of the job she is going into do than Barack Hussein Obama.

    Set any objective standard – and metrics – and let’s measure the person.

    Set any political subjective standard and let’s compare adjectives and adverbs.

    McCain will be President. If he dies or becomes incapable of keeping office from any moment after inauguration – Palin will be better prepared to lead than Obama.

    Hope you will consider this and after some thought – reason it out on your own to see the strength. Perfect? Absolutely not? The candidates never are. Closest to a perfect resume might be Bush 41 – and he made plenty of serious mistakes. We’re all human. Including the Prez.

  5. dave says:


    It seems woth you that middle name is a criterion. Please explain the matrix you wish to establish.

    Should we include the number of times one cheats on wife in the matrix?

    Or, speaking of corruption, the number of Senate admonishments?

  6. Cara says:

    Those who care to write about these issues or read this blog and others, are exceptional. Most Americans know very little about politics, ideology, etc. and don’t care to find out. Understanding this fact is key to this process. You should see the emails flying around in the evangelical community (I have access to thanks to some family members). They are THRILLED with this choice. What Bush did so successfully in 2000 and 2004 is that he energized that evangelical base – they were the everyday volunteers and activists working to get him elected. Until Palin, McCain has been unable to do that – many were going to sit home on election day. Now they have a reason to vote, to volunteer, and talk about why they are voting McCain-Palin ’08. There are certain single issues important to some factions in every party, and Palin satisfies a strong faction in the GOP. These voters don’t care about her lack of experience as her pro-life, pro-gun, pro-marriage history makes up for it. I think Doug will find a bounce from this shrewd choice.

  7. Cara,

    So you admit that McCain picked Palin for political reasons and not because of her meager qualifications for the job ?

  8. Cara says:

    Of course he picked her for political reasons. Whether or not it was responsible will be up to bloggers, pundits, political scientists, and other interested parties to discuss. In reality it doesn’t matter whether or not it was responsible – it’s all about winning and getting those single-issue voters to come out for you on Nov. 4th. Right now I think McCain has a much better likelihood of winning this thing.

  9. Joseph Livesey says:

    I have to hope that the single-issue voters don’t overcome the polls as dramatically as you predict, Cara. As a young voter myself, I’ve seen myself and many of my peers become more informed over the past few years (thanks largely to the Bush administration!). Although my friends’ political standpoints range the entire spectrum, one thing is for sure: they are more than just single-issue voters. I hope that such a trend is not so isolated as to make no difference in November.

    And just as Obama superficially represents to many young voters a fresh face who is closer to their age, idealistic, a potential symbol of change and therefore “the obvious choice”, one of my closest friends is staunchly Republican (although he hasn’t responded to my emails regarding Sarah Palin, haha). So again, I have reason to hope that the candidates won’t be ignorantly dissected into only a few issues come November.

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