Friday, October 10, 2008

Palin in recent historical perspective

I can't remember a time in my life when there was a larger disparity between the Vice Presidential candidates for the two major parties. Sarah Palin is possibly the worst Vice Presidential nominee in modern history. When you consider her company in this category, being the worst Vice Presidential nominee in modern history is a dubious distinction to say the least. Let's consider our nominees:

Sarah Palin
At first when conservatives reacted negatively to McCain's nomination of Palin, I thought it might just be their typical "let's eat our young before they grow up to be liberals" instincts, but the more we learn about her, the more it seems like maybe those same conservative strategists aren't complete morons.
- The only supreme court case Palin knew about and could comment on was Roe v. Wade. I don't believe that the VP needs to be a Constitutional Scholar, but if you're running against one, you might want to know more than just Roe v. Wade. Most importantly, she seems proud of how little she knows about everything. With an aging and cancer-riddled McCain, don't you want to nominate someone who could possibly run the country?

Dan Quayle
Dan Quayle is probably widely regarded as the worst and most embarrassing VP in American history. Quayle is the perfect storm of a weak selection process, bad candidate, and the fact that most Americans don't know about Presidential history, let alone VP history. Even on the eve of his selection at the 1988 Republican Convention in New Orleans, his own party couldn't believe the pick and stated it publicly. Sound familiar? Spelling gaffes aside, Quayle did have experience in the US House and US Senate, although he publicly stated that Mars and Earth were in the same orbit. To say that Palin is another Dan Quayle is not really fair to Quayle, since he does have government experience at the federal level and actually finished law school instead of a series of stints a community colleges. You didn't think there was such a wide spectrum of idiocy did you?

Vice Admiral James Stockdale
Ross Perot's running mate during the 1992 President Election has become a bit of a political punchline, mostly because of his erratic appearance during the 1992 VP debates. What people may not know is that Stockdale is one of the most decorated officers in the history of the US Navy and has a Master's degree from Stanford. He was the President of the Navy War college and like John McCain, a prisoner of war during Vietnam. An interesting contrast to McCain, Stockdale had this to say about his POW and military service (see if you can spot the contrast):
It was so different from Quayle and Gore. The four years in solitary confinement in Vietnam, 7½ years in prisons, drop the first bomb that started the...American bombing raid in the North Vietnam. We blew the oil storage tanks of them off the map. And I never—I couldn't approach—I don't say it just to brag, but, I mean, my sensitivities are completely different.

Nonetheless, Stockdale was widely considered to be a nut, only based on his VP debate, despite the fact that depending on your list of qualifications for VP, many might consider him more qualified than Dan Quayle.

What's amazing to me is that even among individuals considered to be the worst VP nominees in modern history (fairly or unfairly), Palin manages to make Dan Quayle seem imminently qualified. That's what I call an unfortunate accomplishment.


Lord Bling said...

Stockdale was more than qualified, but he was bad on TV. You can bet that Palin's handlers were thinking about him during their debate prep.

HCP said...

Don't forget that no matter how bad Quayle was, they still won that ticket. Now, I know that Dukakis and Bentsen didn't put up much of a fight, but it says something about not needing a whole lot of substance in that position. Which is why they focus on Palins looks as oppose to her credibility to fill that chair.