Barack Obama’s formal nomination for the Presidency on the Democratic side, and John McCain’s selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to be his running mate has ensured that, whatever the result in November, 2008 will be history-making. For the first time, we will elect a ticket consisting of something other than two white men. While I don’t personally believe it to be that impressive, I can understand the historic and symbolic value of it, so, in that respect, I suppose it is a positive step for this country. Unfortunately, however, the selections of Obama and Palin also guarantee another thing: that 2009 will see a large dose of incompetence and under-qualification in the White House.
For those who think I am anti-Palin, I’m not. Personally, I like her. Politically, even, I have great respect for her. We agree on major issues, and her fight against corruption and decision to keep her latest child are both honorable. After a few more years, a re-election campaign, and thenperhaps a stint as the VP could have made Palin an excellent nominee in a decade or so. But now, with only two years of experience as governor, and some experience as mayor of a small town, she is not prepared to be Vice President, not prepared play a major role in national policy-making, and certainly not prepared to, should her country call, serve in the Oval Office. Palin is now a heartbeat away from the Presidency – and that heart sits inside a 72 year old cancer survivor.
Until Palin’s selection, experience was the biggest factor favoring the Republican side. McCain was a multi-decade Senator who had served in the military, and Obama was a first-term Senator with little elected experience prior to his 2004 victory. But that was a week ago, and this is now. Now, any argument against Obama’s lack of experience has to be followed with an explanation as to why Palin’s similar inexperience doesn’t create the same problems.
Of course some will argue that Palin isn’t worse than Obama – and that might be true, but she isn’t any better either, and the party that prides itself on being the party of “grown-ups” should expect more than just a par of the Democratic ticket. Almost exclusively, Palin’s “experience” comes from being mayor of Wasilla, Alaska – a town with less than 9,000 people. This might be ok if she was seeking a Senate seat, or even Governor, but not the Vice Presidency.
Looking beyond the 2008 election, things don’t get much better for Palin, or perhaps more accurately, they don’t get much better for the country. Should the Republican ticket win, Palin will become the frontrunner for the 2012 nomination. She could be unseated, but history says that she probably won’t be – and that isn’t good for either the GOP or the country.
In selecting Palin, McCain went for the easy point, looking to score with disaffected Hillary supporters rather than expand the GOP, build us up as the party of competence, or help us gain ground on Domestic issues. He picked what was easy rather than what was right, and, in the process, passed over several highly-qualified and experienced candidates in favor of someone who can generate headlines, but not necessarily do the job that is required. Newsweek sums it up best:
Happy birthday, Johnny Mac! You’re 72 now, a cancer survivor and a presidential candidate who has said that the most important criterion for picking a vice president is whether he or she could immediately step in if something happened to the president. Your campaign against Barack Obamais based on the simple idea that he is unready to be president. So you’ve picked a running mate who a year and a half ago was the mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, a town of about 7,000 people. You’ve selected a potential leader of the free world who knows little or nothing about the major issues of the day beyond energy. Oh, and she’s being probed in her state for abuse of power.