Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
--C.S. Lewis--

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Palin On The Ticket, Part 2

Well, now that we've discussed all of the political ramifications of the pick, it's on to the policy ramifications. Is she up to the job? Unfortunately, many conservatives (though fortunately not all) seem to be so enamored with Palin herself, and the impact her pick may have on the election outcome that they are satisfied to simply note, "She's as experienced as Obama" and leave it at that. What are we, liberal Democrats? That response merely begs a new question. Is HE qualified to be president?

Leaving Obama alone for a moment, let's focus on Palin. Her political background consists of: 4 years on a city council, 6 years as a mayor, an unsuccessful insurgent campaign for Lt. Governor, a year on the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, and slightly less than two years as a governor (it will be just over two if she takes office in January, but these last couple of months will be part-time at best). Her background is impressive, but if it doesn't immediately overwhelm you as qualification for the vice-presidency, you aren't alone.

I've been trying to think this through as honestly as possible. Obviously, the required jobs of the vice-presidency are few and far between. He presides over the Senate and takes office if the president is incapacitated or killed. Presiding over the Senate isn't a job of significance. A trained monkey can do it, and still be one of the Senate's most intellectual members, so let's put that job aside for a moment. Other than that, the VP's portfolio is as much, or as little, as the president wants to give them.

Since her job is customized, the only real question is what happens if, God forbid, John McCain died during his term. Can she take over? I think she can. After all, her experience as an executive isn't exactly trivial. She has run, for about two years, a state that has 15,000 public employees and a multi-billion dollar budget. During that time she has had to occupy a negotiating table with representatives from foreign governments, deal with both urban and rural issues, make high-level political appointments, and negotiate with a legislature. She also has to be briefed on certain national defense issues due to Alaska's unique geography. Are there areas, such as foreign policy, where she is lacking in experience? Of course, but how many of our recent presidents have had this experience prior to taking office?

The big problem with her relatively light resume (I think) is that she doesn't have enough of a background to make it CLEAR that she can handle the job. Say what you will about Joe Biden or John McCain on policy, they have a track record that proves they are at least competent. Obama and Palin don't. Therefore it becomes a judgement call. Do they satisy you? I can't honestly say that I think either is incapable of doing the job, but I also can't ridicule anyone who does.