Saturday, August 30, 2008

Quick VP Question

Many liberals seem up in arms about McCain's choice of the inexperienced Palin to be "a heartbeat away from the presidency". This may be a politically effective attack, but in all honesty, would you have preferred any of the alternatives McCain would otherwise have picked?

Update: a more apt criticism, I think, is that it reflects poorly on McCain, recklessly choosing such an unknown quantity (who he'd only spoken to once - or maybe twice - prior to making his decision) for such an important position.


  1. I think this particular charge is less about how much we liberals would want her to become President, and more about how credible she is as a plausible President of the United States -- especially since McCain has made so much out of emphasizing Obama's inexperience and alleged unreadiness.

  2. What does 'plausible' mean in this context? If she were President no-one would listen to her or obey executive orders? That would matter, but seems unrealistic. Or perhaps you just mean that people find the idea kind of surprising and hard to believe at present; but that doesn't really matter (though again, I grant that this rationally neutral fact might be exploited for political gain). Is there some other interpretation I'm missing?

    Basically, what I'm wondering is whether there's some substantive criticism here, i.e. a reason for me as a spectator to think that she is particularly unfit for the job (aside from how unfit pretty much any Republican politician is these days), or if it's just partisan posturing.

    (I guess there's a place for the latter, given how important it is that the Democrats win this election. But that would be of less interest to me.)

  3. I think a major problem is that we don't have any evidence that she has opinions on (or has thought much about)foreign policy. She has a bachelor's in journalism and has been governor for less than two years. It's not that people won't listen to her if she's president that I'm worried about as much as whether she actually has any plans for what she might do in office. She did ask a little while ago "what is it exactly that the VP does every day?".

  4. That strikes me as an improvement on McCain himself, who has positively bad opinions on foreign policy. (Maybe she does too, but that's the worst case scenario. At least there's some epistemic possibility that she's not so bad as the more extreme warmongers in her party. I agree this is important to find out, at least.)

  5. In fairness to Palin, in context her question about the VP can also be interpreted as meaning, "As a VP, how much room would I be given for active participation in the actual work of the administration?" Her worry about the VP question, which she made explicit in the same answer in which she asked the question, was that she's an active person and it wasn't clear that it would allow her much of an active role. Most people don't, in fact, think of the VP as an active role; unlike the President, who is responsible for the executive branch of government, the constitutionally required duties of the Vice President consist entirely of presiding over the Senate (of which the constitutionally required duties consist entirely of breaking ties when they come up and keeping order when Congress is counting Electoral College votes every four years) and being first in the line of succession. Everything else is pretty much just whatever the President feels like letting you do. So a worry about what you'd actually be doing on a day-to-day basis is actually a legitimate worry.


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