John Nance Garner, the two time vice president under Franklin Delano Roosevelt, once said that that office was not worth a pitcher of warm spit. He always was a class act, but he helped deliver the Texas delegation at the 1932 convention to FDR when it looked like the Democrats might face another deadlocked convention like they did in 1924. That got him to the bottom of the ticket. Still, if one looks at the number of vice presidents who have succeeded to the presidency or those who were elected on their own right later, the number two spot is a rather important stepping stone for an ambitious politician.
The vice presidency takes on increasing importance with a very elderly presidential candidate like John McCain who just turned 72. Most Republicans, especially those in the conservative base, have become energized by Sarah Palin, the two year governor of Alaska. She is pro-gun, anti-abortion, anti-stem cell, pro-creationism, pro-war. Just what they love…the social issues as they are called. She loves drilling for oil, and regards the caribou as a pain in the Alaska psyche. Frankly, I have always wanted to marry a girl who was a hunter, a fisherperson, and who could skin a moose with her bare hands. I have also always wanted a woman who believes that God watches over her while she lays oil piping across the tundra. But those sorts of women are few and far between in New Jersey. For most of our women folk, going outdoors means when the mall is not covered. Hunting for them is deciding which cuts to buy in Shop Rite.
Now the liberal media talking heads, which means everybody except FOX News, tried to ask her a trick question—like what does she think of the Bush Doctrine. She could not give an answer, either because there really is no definition of the Bush Doctrine, or there are at least seven. That is the genius of Bush-Rice foreign policy; it has no mission statement, as the Generals in Iraq have learned. Palin is right, the real issue is not who knows much about foreign policy, or military policy, or the war, but who makes the voters who are living in a state of denial in general feel good. Palin is pretty and vivacious to look at, the other guys looks befuddled at the issues. She has no doubts, no concerns, and no real ability to link up her thoughts with the problems we are facing.
I kind of like Todd too. He is snowing around Alaska; you never hear him talk back like Teresa Heinz or Hillary Clinton when Bill was president. I do not know the sound of his voice—does he sound like Bogart or like Donald Duck or what? Once she wins, he gets to live in a beautiful, serviced government house at our expense. He ain’t no fool. And even though she dropped out of three or four colleges on her way to a prestigious journalism degree from U of Idaho, she could be president of the USA like Harry Truman was. George Bush has taught all of us that a pedigree degree from places like Harvard and Yale meant nothing. So much for defending legacies at the Ivies.
McCain has wisely kept her away from the media in general. She is a cheerleader for the right, and should not have deal with people who do not show her deference—he said that! Makes sense to me, those talking heads on television insist on asking mean questions—how come you never visited foreign countries besides Canada, Sarah, or never had a passport until two years ago. Lincoln never had a passport, wise guys.
She is a reformer in a corrupt, male dominated state, so she can help old John reform Washington where he has sat for a quarter of a century marinating. And yes, liberals, she is ready to take over if she needs to. She can deal with the problems before us: Iraq, Iran, North Korea, an assertive Russia, as well as our collapsing financial markets, the foreclosure problems, the accelerating medical crisis, the educational systems that treat kids like widgets, and the deteriorating environment. She has already helped us on the energy crisis by encouraging more and more drilling.
McCain is a great patriot, but some even in his own party like David Brooks and George Wills has raised the issue that he has sold the nation short by choosing Palin as his veep. But Richard Nixon said of his own corrupt vice president, Spiro Agnew, this guy is my insurance policy against people pushing me out.
Michael P. Riccards is Executive Director of the Hall Institute of Public Policy – New Jersey.