Monday, September 01, 2008

Politically Incorrect Thought Experiment

This occurred to me as the sort of hypothetical situation that is completely inappropriate for political opponents to put forward, but that doesn't mean it might not provoke some insights.

There's rumblings that McCain might accept his nomination from New Orleans. Which, while not as bad as it could be, is a disaster area. It's a somewhat dangerous environment. Suppose a sudden mudslide or structure collapse were to happen, and John McCain were grievously hurt or killed. (This is a pretty unlikely scenario, but go with me for a second.)

What would the Republicans do? There's a certain sense to the idea that you would promote the Vice Presidential candidate; after all, that's what, a half-year from now, the country would do.

Would they do that? If they did, what would be the likely result? If, for whatever reason, you think Sarah Palin shouldn't be the presidential candidate, how prudent was it to choose her to be the "back-up" president?

Click here to return to Gnomicon home page


Sarah said...

Well, first there is the fundamental difference between the role of a president or vice president and the role of a candidate. Mrs. Palin had been brought in primarily for what she can do as a candidate. Her effectiveness in that role sort of doesn't depend on whether she's first or second on the ticket. Either way she stirs those evangelical Christians who were unstirred by Mr. McCain. Either way she stirs those, possibly theoretical, women voters who don't care a hoot about a woman's political views and will vote for her so long as she has two X chromosomes. So for the Republicans to elevate her to the status of Presidential candidate is no more ludicrous than their elevating her to the status of vice presidential candidate.

Now, when it comes to the hypothetical so conveniently posed in Senator Clinton's phone ringing at 3 a.m. advertisement, I think many are skeptical of either McCain's or Palin's suitability for the role. It's either McCain's bad temper or Pailin's absence due to fishing trip, oil drilling, breast feeding, or abusing her office over a familial spat. That woman's way too busy at 3 a.m. to listen for the damned phone.

I, for one, have no idea why the Republicans are trying to cozy up to New Orleans in a hurricane. Did I miss the transition to some sort of bizarro world where they came out of Katrina smelling like roses? Or are they subliminally appealing to the racists out there by touting their greatest triumph: oppressing poor black people on a scale this country hasn't seen since segregation?

Bob said...

Well yes, a candidate has a different role. My theory was that an insane choice for _candidate_ is almost surely an even more insane choice for the actual office.

I guess that, much like you are dividing candidates from office-holders, I am assuming that this VP selection only holds water if you assume the actual VP position is not critically important. If it were, the GOP would demand more proof that she'd do what they want a VP to do.

But, although the day-to-day operations of the VP are not critically important, the whole position exists solely because there's a chance that one day the VP will become critically important.

Insurance is dominated by ancient companies of unexciting people in stodgy suits for a reason. The Vice Presidency is an insurance policy, and as such picking a candidate demands the same level of stodginess.

I mean, caution, prudence, attention to detail. You know, "good" stodginess. John McCain has the stodgy look, but he doesn't deliver the stodgy where it counts.

USwest said...

I think that McCain has made a huge statement about how unimportant he sees the VP in his choice of candidate. The one good thing about this is that he is telling us that he will not pick another "Cheney".

I noticed during her acceptance speech how closely he watched the podium from over her shoulder, as if to say, "Don't you dare go off script." Then he beamed like a proud daddy at his little girl's fine performance.

I don't think Palin would be an RNC replacement for McCain. I think the convention would pick someone else, like Romney. Now, the replacement may choose to keep Palin or not. Perhaps that would be determined in some back room deal.

I don't think we should look for a VP to just step in if something horrific were to happen to a president. Even if a president has to have a root canal and be put to sleep, the VP has to take over for that period of time. There are many small instances like this that we don't often think about where a VP takes over.

Sarah said...

Right on, U.S. West. Well noted about McCain watching her speak as well.

I agree that McCain is making a point about the vice presidency. I wonder if it goes even farther than the V.P.'s lack of importance. I wonder if the choice of Palin and the example of the speech at the convention indicates that the V.P. has to be a good puppet, has to execute the commands of decision makers flawlessly and without question.

The Republicans are known for their machine. Karl Rove was elected to nothing, but when he stepped to the front of the Fox News booth at the convention, the crowd started chanting, "We need you!" I wonder if Palin not only exemplifies the role of the vice president, but also the role of the president in this machine driven party. It reassures Republicans who worry about McCain's deviations from the plan. The choice of Palin and McCain's reversal of all independent positions are attempts to say, "We're just here to win the election for the Republican Party. Don't worry about what we really think, because that will never come into play in the leadership of this country." You won't have to worry about whether McCain or Palin picks up the phone at 3 a.m., because they've got Karl Rove to answer the phone.