Palin Most Qualified Recent VP Nominee

John McCain is getting some guff for his assertion on the Don Imus show that Sarah Palin is “the most qualified of anyone recently who has run for vice president to tell you the truth.”  And, no, not for the syntax but the point itself.

Steve Benen is incredulous:

Dick Cheney, Joe Lieberman, Al Gore, Lloyd Bentsen, and George H.W. Bush? No, Sarah Palin is “the most qualified.”

Wow.

Actually, though, this is easy.  Aside from Bush, none of them had … wait for it … executive experience.  And even Bush had, in 1980, less of it than Palin.   She was a city mayor for eight years and governor for two years, making her a perfect 10.

As noted here numerous times, Americans seem to count only three offices as meaningful “experience” when voting for president:  State Governor, Vice President, and President.  No one without one of those lines on his resume has been elected president since John Kennedy did it in 1960.  Obviously, that’ll change in less than two weeks, since two U.S. Senators are the only viable candidates (some would argue, only one is).   So, while I don’t personally buy it, one could argue that Palin is indeed “the most qualified.”

The foregoing, of couse, is an odd argument to make if you’ve been in the Senate since the Reagan administration.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, US Politics, , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Steve Plunk says:

    The more reasonable of us don’t consider her the most qualified or unqualified, just qualified. It is so tiresome to have to defend choices like Palin when other governors have ran for the presidency with no objections raised.

    I doubt Americans really do a lot of thinking about what in offices candidates have served. It is more likely Americans vote on campaign issues.

  2. Alex Knapp says:

    Steve,

    In 1992, I recall Republicans railing against Bill Clinton for his “inexperience.” In 2000, Democrats railed against George W. Bush for his “inexperience.” (I believe similar attacks were leveled against Reagan, but I was an infant at the time and can’t find any quick references.) In fact, the attack on the experience of governors is pretty common. Hasn’t stopped governors from running and winning, of course, but it’s common.

    Personally, I was rooting for Bill Richardson early on in this election cycle precisely for his accomplishments and experience–which are far and above those of any of the four candidates running. Alas, that’s not who won or even came close.

  3. Triumph says:

    Aside from Bush, none of them had … wait for it … executive experience.

    This isn’t true. Cheney, of course was Sec. of Defense and CEO of Haliburton (if corporate experience counts). Old Man Bush was Director of the CIA.

    Jack Kemp was Sec. of Housing.

    Executive experience as a cabinet secretary is much more apposite for being president than being the governor of a state with a population smaller than Memphis.

  4. RWB says:

    This is one of the stupidest discussions I have ever heard. In an effort to put lipstick on the pig experience argument used against Obama, this executive experience excuse is concocted. By that argument, McCain is not qualified to be president since he has no executive experience, but I am since I run a small LLC in California. Well folks, managing this small company does not qualify me anymore to be president of the US that running a city that does not manage it’s schools, roads, or other infrastructure needs does. I have more experience with a real budget than the mayor of a city that gets so much money from oil company taxes and from federal earmarks, and I still am not qualified.

    McCain and Biden ARE experienced and qualified; Obama might not be, but Palin definitely is not, period.

  5. McCain must just want to strangle the advisors who recommended Palin. How much time has he spent defending her?

    Sometimes people just can’t see the obvious. Good grief, McCain is a war hero with 26 years of experience making laws and working across the aisle… and instead of being able to run on that record, he’s spending much of his time defending Palin and defending idiotic robocalls.

  6. Spoker says:

    As noted here numerous times, Americans seem to count only three offices as meaningful “experience” when voting for president: State Governor, Vice President, and President.

    It seems to me that the real issue here is not with the American voters but rather with the press that believes they have the ‘right’ to tell the voters who is qualified and what they should believe. More importantly to the press they regularly seem to get offended when they are not allowed to bless or reject most politicians decisions before they are announced.

  7. just me says:

    I wouldn’t argue she is the “most” qualified, but I also don’t think she is unqualified.

    I like her and think she has been held to a standard that Biden isn’t held to or really even Obama. What I think she is in comparison to Biden, Obama or McCain is untried in the national media. Most of the candidates-including the primary where Biden also ran, have played the morning talk show rounds for years. I think Palin’s problem isn’t that she is an idiot-which I think is an unfair charge anyway, but that she just seems out of her element, because she hasn’t spent the last 4 years running for the office of the presidency or necessarily considering it a goal.

    My biggest complaint with the way Palin has been treated is that in all those interviews, the interviewers seem to concentrate a lot on the “gotcha!” looking to expose what she didn’t know, without really giving her a chance to really go into the things she does know. I bet she could talk Obama and Biden in circles on energy.

    But she isn’t stupid or an idiot, and if she really is interested in running for national office, she should concentrate on doing some of the morning talk shows over the next 4 years, and boning up more on the national focus of things.

  8. James Joyner says:

    McCain and Biden ARE experienced and qualified; Obama might not be, but Palin definitely is not, period.

    That’s pretty much where I am, too. It’s a judgment call, really. I don’t think 18 months as governor of Alaska is enough.

    The only reason Obama is qualified is that he’s the nominee. That is, he’s spent 2 years immersed in presidential level politics and proven that he can handle the issues, at least as manifested in debates, media interviews, and the like.

    Cheney, of course was Sec. of Defense and CEO of Haliburton (if corporate experience counts). Old Man Bush was Director of the CIA.

    As a general rule, we discount private sector experience unless it’s truly extraordinary and tend not to count Cabinet time either. The exception seems to be national security positions — SecDef, CIA, State, and certain 4-star positions.

    Bush 41 was presumed qualified, as was Cheney, as would have been Colin Powell or Norman Schwarzkopf.

    Maybe it’s “gravitas,” that 2000 campaign buzzword, rather than “experience” that we’re really looking for.

  9. So much of this discussion is a conclusion in search of a rationale.

  10. Davebo says:

    I bet she could talk Obama and Biden in circles on energy.

    Well, she certainly has experience enacting windfall profits taxes on oil companies.

    Actually, I think I’d like to see that conversation on prime time!

  11. just me says:

    Well, she certainly has experience enacting windfall profits taxes on oil companies.

    Actually it wasn’t a windfall profits tax, it was a severance tax and it is a type of tax every state with natural resources taxes companies for, what she did was renegotiate the terms and where they had been closed, she opened them up for public record.

    Which is half the problem-those who hate her just use the talking points and don’t even bother to learn what they mean.

  12. Triumph says:

    As a general rule, we discount private sector experience unless it’s truly extraordinary and tend not to count Cabinet time either.

    I concur with your assessment of how “experienced” is defined.

    It is interesting to look at the budget numbers. The DoD has a budget of about $482 billion (not counting the War expenditures). Even a second class cabinet post like Secretary of HUD–which VP nominee Jack Kemp managed for Bush the Elder has a budget of 28 billion.

    Compare that to Alaska’s budget of about $3 billion.

    Furthermore, Alaska is one of the least-representative, homogenous states in the country. Having federal cabinet experience gives candidates a feel for the “real America” which has eluded Palin.

  13. Eneils Bailey says:

    I don’t think 18 months as governor of Alaska is enough.

    Tell me how Obama’s experience is better.

    She had as much, if not more time as an active governor as Obama had as a fairly unforgettable Senator.

  14. Anderson says:

    McCain supporters like to claim that Obama is the candidate who will “say anything to get elected.”

    Quotes like the one JJ discusses will do a lot to put that tag around McCain’s neck.

  15. rodney dill says:

    Dick Cheney, Joe Lieberman, Al Gore, Lloyd Bentsen, and George H.W. Bush?

    …and every single one of these, plus Palin, are more qualified than Obama… for any position… ‘cept maybe community organizer.

  16. Anon says:

    the interviewers seem to concentrate a lot on the “gotcha!” looking to expose what she didn’t know

    Come on, asking someone what newspapers they read is a gotcha question? This is the best the Republican party can offer?

    Surely there are many more people in the Republican party who are more competent. But for some reason, the Republicans never seem to nominate their best and brightest, at least in recent history.

    It will be interesting to watch the primaries in 2012 if both Jindal and Palin are in the race. The contrast would be huge.

  17. just me says:

    Come on, asking someone what newspapers they read is a gotcha question?

    If that was the only question asked, I might think you have a case to make, but Palin has been asked questions they haven’t even asked Obama.

    And frankly I will take her answer to what she reads over Biden’s belief that we kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon anyday. The fact that he said it with such confidence doesn’t make it true.

  18. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Sarah Palin made more decisions in a day as Governor than Obama has made in his tenure in the Senate. She has accomplished more than Obama has in his political career yet no one questions his qualifications. Hell, Obama cannot qualify for a top secret clearance. He could not become an FBI agent or hold any sensitive job. Yet no one questions this Marxist. Ayers/Obama 08

  19. G.A.Phillips says:

    …and every single one of these, plus Palin, are more qualified than Obama… for any position… ‘cept maybe community organizer.

    Or the next Matrix trilogy, or the remake of “The Greatest story Ever Told” maybe a Pepsi commercial.

  20. Liberty11 says:

    You can thank your Democratic Party for the current financial crisis.
    The Democratic Party(through Democratic dominated organizations such as ACORN, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac and Democratic inspired laws such as the Community Reinvestment Act) intimidated banks into lending money to poor minorities and whites who could not possibly pay the money back.
    The resulting bad loans were packaged into mortgage securities which(since they were based on fraudulent loans) had no significant value.
    It is no accident Obama and Dodd are the top two recipients of Fannie Mae campaign contributions and that Obama chose Jim Johnson(former Fannie Mae executive) to select his vice presidential nominee. It is no accident Obama represented ACORN and that he and Ayers donated to ACORN while they were on boards together. It is no accident Democrats such as Frank, Dodd, Reid, Pelosi and Obama did not join John McCain when John McCain called for reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2005. It is no accident Democrats like Obama, Dodd, Reid, Pelosi, and Frank resisted President Bush’s calls for reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Don’t buy Obama’s demagogic claim Bush “deregulation” caused the current crisis! There was little financial “deregulation” under Bush and Gramm Leach Bliley(1999) was not only under Clinton but, by its breaking down of barriers between commercial and investment banks, has helped to alleviate the current crisis by facilitating recent mergers between commercial and investment banks. The media and Obama can cover up the above truths but the above truths can not legitimately be denied. The current crisis is directly traceable to your Democratic Party

  21. Anon says:

    If that was the only question asked, I might think you have a case to make, but Palin has been asked questions they haven’t even asked Obama.

    Sure. But most people aren’t going to care too much if she can’t answer a hard question. It’s not failing to answer hard questions well that made her look like an airhead.

    Heck, I bet that 80% of the right-of-center commenters on OTB could have given a much better interview than Palin. Most of you have probably given much more thought to conservative issues than Palin actually has.

  22. G.A.Phillips says:

    Most of you have probably given much more thought to conservative issues than Palin actually has.

    Maybe, maybe not, but to liberal issues then 0bama has, most assuredly.

  23. Christopher says:

    Al Gore was qualified as VP? The guy is a friggin MORON! Probably really does think there is a Man/Bear/Pig out there!

    And Triumph, really hitting that thesaurus hard tonight, huh? “apposite”? F*ck me! lol! And being a governor of a state IS executive exp. and significant at that! moron
    (try to figure out what U.S.A. stands for sometime, dude. Hint: emphasize the ‘S’)

  24. Michael says:

    If that was the only question asked, I might think you have a case to make, but Palin has been asked questions they haven’t even asked Obama.

    Such as?