Vice-Presidential Qualifications

by Sal on September 11, 2008

in Election 2008,Politics

There has been much talk of experience and qualifications in regards to Sarah Palin and the VP slot.  While one looks at the person of Sarah Palin, both as a person and from her experience, one finds that she : 

  • is young (under 45)
  • has a reputation as a Republican Reformer
  • has taken on Republican Party Establishment
  • has a large family with many children
  • is a lover of outdoor sports
  • is a Hunter
  • was chosen as VP Candidate with less than 2 years experience as Governor

While this describes Sarah Palin, it also describes Teddy Roosevelt.  Roosevelt was Vice President for one year when William McKinley died.  Yet with a similar resume to Palin’s, he became one of the most influential Presidents in American history.  Leadership is not about any kind of Government experience, it’s about having the right ideals and philosophy, and having those intangible characteristics to lead.  Truth is, one can never be sure who will be a good or great President and who will be a disappointment, but it is ideology and worldview that help give the best indication.  President George H.W. Bush was probably one of the most qualified presidents in history, but he did not perform in a way that made him one of the greats.  Lincoln was probably one of the more “unqualified” men to ever occupy the White House, but was arguably one of the greatest, if not the greatest, President.  Palin’s Washington “experience” may not match that of Biden and McCain’s, but she has the right ideology, and at least so far, she appears to exhibit that intangible leadership quality that can effect real change in government. 

(The above bullet points are a paraphrase of an item that is all over the Internet in various forms).

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Jolly Roger September 11, 2008 at 2:48 pm

While I agree that all these smear adverts against Palin are absurd, comparing her to Roosevelt and Lincoln is even more ridiculous.

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Sal September 11, 2008 at 2:55 pm

I am comparing her in the sense that Roosevelt and Lincoln both lacked “experience” yet were great Presidents. Sarah Palin has a long way to go before she can be numbered with Lincoln and Roosevelt. The point was to compare her experience with their relative experience before they were elected President/Vice-President, not to say that she is another Lincoln/Roosevelt.

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dennymajor September 11, 2008 at 3:03 pm

I have always thought experience was the most overrated thing to run on. History shows that you don’t have to have tons of experience to be a great President. As you said, look at Lincoln, Teddy, JFK . . . and then you have probably THE most qualified man to be president, Buchanan, and he did terrible.

I don’t think it matters in the slightest. It’s just that McCain put a lot of emphasis on experience and claimed the only qualification for VP is to be able to assume the Presidency on day one, then he picks Palin who doesn’t really have national or foreign policy experience. It just seems slightly hypocritical on his part.

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household 6 hooah September 11, 2008 at 3:08 pm

Your post is right on target. I also feel that the lack of “Washington” experience that Gov. Palin has may be a good reason for her to be put into office.

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vijtable September 11, 2008 at 3:32 pm

Very interesting post. I appreciate references to two of my favorites – TR and Lincoln.

I would note, however, that Palin’s “Reputation as a Republican Reformer” and having “taken on the Republican Establishment” is countered by her being very “mainstream” as far as her actual performance.

For example, the bridge to nowhere is something she supported until it became unpopular. Then, even as she opposed it, Palin supported the earmarks staying in Alaska. http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2008-03-22-earmarks_N.htm

Moreover, if I recall correctly, she hired one of one of Ted Stevens’ advisers to run her gubernatorial campaign.

McCain and Palin’s support of the Bush tax scheme (higher for middle class, lower for rich, less estate taxes), and support of laissez-faire approach to business (and corporate taxes), is patently mainstream Republican. Palin’s denial of evolution and support for drilling say nothing about reform, but more about her consistency with mainstream Republican ideals.

Basically, her beliefs are not nearly as maverick as John McCain. As someone left of center by the modern American analysis, McCain is much more interesting in the “reformer” angle. McCain pre-2004 (the year he started parroting Bush, hedging on torture, and hedging on his social stances) was even more interesting to those of us in the middle.

In essence, the Palin choice makes me significantly less likely to vote for McCain. Her stance on issues (to me) reflects the same unsuccessful policies of Bush. Someone like Christie Todd Whitman would have been MUCH more compelling to those of us who appreciate true conservatism, not radical right-wing Republicanism.

Looking at TR, some VERY important differences from Palin: He came from a city, had an indisputable record of reform through his career (notably as NYC police chief), believed in preservation of environmental resources because of his love of the outdoors, and believed in busting monopolistic and overly-powerful corporations, and advocated estate taxes. In these ways, he truly was revolutionary.
http://www.liebertpub.com/pgtoday/PGT/Articles/mt_rushmore_and_a_history.htm

I look forward to your thoughts on these comments.

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Lisa September 12, 2008 at 4:39 pm

Teddy Roosevelt may have been a Republican, but what the Republican party was over 100 years ago is largely dissimilar to the Republican party of today. Republicans back then were fiscally conservative but socially liberal. Republicans today are socially conservative, and pretend to be fiscally conservative, but at best they are fiscally moderate and some border on fiscal liberalism.

From the Miller Center’s essays on Teddy Roosevelt:

He believed that as President, he had a unique relationship with and responsibility to the people, and therefore wanted to challenge prevailing notions of limited government and individualism; government, he maintained, should serve as an agent of reform for the people. His presidency endowed the progressive movement with credibility, lending the prestige of the White House to welfare legislation, government regulation, and the conservation movement. The desire to make society more fair and equitable, with economic possibilities for all Americans, lay behind much of Roosevelt’s program.

(http://millercenter.org/academic/americanpresident/roosevelt/essays/biography/9)

That doesn’t sound like any Sarah Palin I’ve seen pushing forth sound bites lately…

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household 6 hooah September 12, 2008 at 4:45 pm

Lisa, I have to say that you are mis-reading the post. All Sal was doing was comparing the “experience” of Sarah Palin to Roosevelt and Lincoln. And you are right, the Republican party has change and so has the Democrat party.

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