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Stuntz on Experience and Accomplishments.--

Bill Stuntz has a fascinating analysis of experience and accomplishments. After discussing experience as time spent in state or federal jobs, he writes:

But there is a third definition, and it may be the one the voters care most about: the relevant question is not how much time the candidate has spent in the relevant government jobs, but what the candidate has accomplished during that time. Most politicians, like most people in any line of work, leave no particular mark on the offices they hold. Their chief accomplishment is winning elections. But a few--the real standouts--rise to the top wherever they serve. Mark Warner didn't just warm the Virginia Governor's chair; he blew the job away. When he took office, the state's fiscal condition was awful; there was a massive structural mismatch between its revenue stream and the services voters demanded. (Sort of like the federal government today: an issue none of the candidates seems to want to discuss.) Warner fixed that problem, improved Northern Virginia's awful road system, upgraded the state university system--and did it all while keeping taxes reasonably low. On the Republican side, Bobby Jindal has a Warner-like record: he seems to transform every job he holds, making Louisiana's health care system, its university system, and now the state's government as a whole accomplish much more without spending much more to do it.

How do the current candidates stack up on that definition?

McCain has plainly left his mark on the Senate--whether it's a good or bad mark depends on how one evaluates McCain-Feingold, the Senate compromise on judicial confirmations, the bipartisan immigration bill that failed to pass the House in 2006, and McCain's frequent attacks on Congressional pork. And that's just a short list of domestic issues from the last few years. Reasonable people can disagree about these topics, but it seems clear that McCain hasn't just been a timeserver. The Senate of the last decade (at least) would have been a very different place without him.

Is the same true of Joe Biden, who has been a Senator for fourteen years longer than McCain? Not obviously so, but perhaps that reflects my ignorance. Still, nothing I've read since Obama picked him and nothing in my memory of the past thirty years makes me think that either the Senate in particular or American government in general would look different without Biden's contributions. Quieter maybe, and a little less entertaining. But not appreciably different.

What about Obama? This, it seems to me, is the question that bothers a lot of voters who, like me, find Obama extremely impressive but worry that he might not be ready for the job he seeks. The problem isn't time: four years in the Senate are more than enough for an exceptional talent like Obama's to shine. Nor is the problem that he was a state senator only four years ago. State legislatures are hugely important institutions; eight years of service in one seems to me an underrated plus for a presidential candidate. The problem is, I'm not sure what Obama did during those eight years. It isn't obvious to me that he left a mark on Illinois government--and he should have, if he aspires to the nation's presidency. The same point applies to his current job: I have yet to hear any current Senator explain how Obama changed some important piece of legislation in fundamental ways, or stood up to the Democratic caucus on some major issue about which he and his party disagreed, or worked to bring about some compromise that would have been impossible without his efforts. With McCain, the question is whether you like the things he's done. With Obama--Biden too, I think--the question is whether he's done much.

Which brings me back to Palin. Clearly, her résumé is thin, maybe disqualifying. Perhaps the jobs she has held are too small to count in a national presidential campaign. But that isn't obvious, not yet anyway. What matters more, to me and I bet to more than a few others, is what she's done in those jobs. The fact that her approval rating among Alaskans is in Mark Warner territory suggests that she might be the kind of governor Warner was in Virginia. If so, that should count for a lot--even if she hasn't had much time in office. Because time-serving won't count for much in the offices these four candidates are seeking.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Stuntz on Experience and Accomplishments.--
  2. Experience and Sarah Palin.
metro1 (mail) (www):
Palin’s experience is superior to Obama's - but her accomplishments are much more impressive than his.

From 1992-1996 when Palin served on the City Council of Wasilla, Obama was teaching part time at the University of Chicago Law School and working in private practice part time.

In 1996 when Obama was elected to the Illinois State Senate, Palin was elected Mayor of Wasilla, AK. Obama worked for legislation that would provide tax credits and subsidies to private developers of affordable housing. Tony Rezko received over $87 million in government funds to renovate and maintain affordable housing units, many of them in Obama’s disctrict. Many of these units lacked heat, had leaking roofs and were infested by rodents. Palin ran her small but growing city with a budget just under six million dollars and about 50 employees, and was reelected in 1999.

In 2003, Palin was appointed to the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. When she uncovered corruption in the organization, and was unable to get Governor Murkowski to take action, she resigned in protest and filed charges again the offenders, taking on entrenched corruption in Alaskan politics, This fight led her to run against Gov. Murkowski in the primary, and then go on to become Alaska’s first female governor in 2006.

In 2004, Obama was elected to the US Senate. The developers who had received government funding as a result of legislation sponsored by Obama served on his campaign finance committee. Many of the buildings they had purchased with government funding were seized for code violations, or foreclosed, and the low-income residents were forced to find housing elsewhere. In 2008, Governor Palin worked with the legislature to provide Alaskans a $1200 rebate from state revenues, and successfully arranged for the development of the Transcanada Pipeline to transport natural gas from Alaska to the lower 48 states.

Do the Democrats really want to talk about this?
8.30.2008 2:27am
Mahan Atma (mail):
WaPo on Palin:

Exclusive: Chief Fired by Palin Speaks Out


The July firing of Alaska Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan by Gov. Sarah Palin, who was announced as John McCain's running mate on Friday, has unearthed a stream of soap-opera-like details about Palin, her husband, her family and top state appointees. The controversy has also cut against Palin's reputation for holding an ethical line and standing up to colleagues in the Republican Party over matters of principle.

Monegan, 57, a respected former chief of the Anchorage Police Department, said in an interview with The Washington Post's James V. Grimaldi on Friday that the governor repeatedly brought up the topic of her ex-brother-in-law, Michael Wooten, after Monegan became the state's commissioner of public safety in December 2006. Palin's husband, Todd, met with Monegan and presented a dossier of information about Wooten, who was going through a bitter custody battle with Palin's sister, Molly. Monegan also said Sarah Palin sent him e-mails on the subject, but Monegan declined to disclose them, saying he planned to give them to a legislative investigator looking into the matter.

Palin initially denied that she or anyone in her administration had ever pressured Monegan to fire the trooper, but this summer acknowledged more than a half a dozen contacts over the matter, including one phone call from a Palin administration official to a state police lieutenant. The call was recorded and was released by Palin's office this month. Todd Palin told a television reporter in Alaska that he did meet with Monegan, but said he was just "informing" Monegan about the issue, not exerting pressure.

"She never directly asked me to fire him," Monegan said.

But he said Todd Palin told him Wooten "shouldn't be a trooper. I've tried to explain to him, you can't head hunt like this. What you need to do is back off, because if the trooper does make a mistake, and it is a terminable offense, it can look like political interference.

"I think he's emotionally committed in trying to see that his former brother-in-law is punished."

The allegation against Palin, "undercuts one of the points they are making that she is an ethical reformer," said Democratic state Sen. Hollis French, who is managing a $100,000 investigation into the firing of Walter Monegan.


8.30.2008 2:28am
Nifonged:
Regardless of my agreement (or disagreement) with Prof. Stuntz' views, I can't recommend enough reading his work, including this one. His class(es) was/(were) the most enlightening of those I attended (sorry Levmore, but #2 isn't bad).
8.30.2008 2:29am
Mahan Atma (mail):
"Palin’s experience is superior to Obama's"


What a joke.

Obama ran a highly-successful, disciplined, efficient national campaign that out-maneuvered, out-raised, and out-strategized one of the biggest political machines in the business.

If you don't think that counts as a remarkable accomplishment and demonstration of executive power, you don't know the first thing about politics.
8.30.2008 2:36am
Mahan Atma (mail):
"I have yet to hear any current Senator explain how Obama changed some important piece of legislation in fundamental ways, or stood up to the Democratic caucus on some major issue about which he and his party disagreed, or worked to bring about some compromise that would have been impossible without his efforts."


Here's an example of one of his legislative accomplishments in the Illinois legislature:


Consider a bill into which Obama clearly put his heart and soul. The problem he wanted to address was that too many confessions, rather than being voluntary, were coerced -- by beating the daylights out of the accused.
ad_icon

Obama proposed requiring that interrogations and confessions be videotaped.

This seemed likely to stop the beatings, but the bill itself aroused immediate opposition. There were Republicans who were automatically tough on crime and Democrats who feared being thought soft on crime. There were death penalty abolitionists, some of whom worried that Obama's bill, by preventing the execution of innocents, would deprive them of their best argument. Vigorous opposition came from the police, too many of whom had become accustomed to using muscle to "solve" crimes. And the incoming governor, Rod Blagojevich, announced that he was against it.


8.30.2008 2:40am
Nifonged:
"If you don't think that counts as a remarkable accomplishment and demonstration of executive power, you don't know the first thing about politics."

That may be true, but there is a difference between politics and governance.

I made this point on another thread here, I'm not sure why some people think that being elected to perform a task is indicative whether said person can perform that task.

W won 2 national elections, does that make him a great president?
8.30.2008 2:41am
PC:
This comes to mind. Obama is left of center, McCain is right of center (and pandering to the hard social right to get elected).
8.30.2008 2:46am
ROA:
Everyone says Obama lacks executive experience. Didn’t he run the Chicago Annenberg Challenge for several years? Why hasn’t he discussed that more because that is his only real executive experience? You would think he would want to go into more detail about what an effective executive he was.
8.30.2008 2:46am
J. Aldridge:
Consider this: Neither Obama or Biden have brought about reform - they only talk about reform. Palin has brought about reform.
8.30.2008 2:52am
Mahan Atma (mail):
"W won 2 national elections, does that make him a great president?"


Bush was nothing more than a front. If he'd actually been put in charge of his campaigns, they would have crashed and burned like the Hindenburg.

More importantly, nobody claims experience is a sufficient condition for success, only that it is necessary, at least to some extent.

Quite frankly, I'll take wisdom, judgment and integrity over experience any day.
8.30.2008 2:53am
BruceM (mail) (www):
I simply don't think experience matters. Intelligence is a much better factor for being a good president than "experience" in prior political offices. Experience typically means nothing more than the ability to have won an election and not been impeached or otherwise forced to resign.

I think everyone is being massively hypocritical when it comes to "experience." Republicans who voted for Bush, who had no experience aside from being Texas governor for a few years - the weakest governor in the country from a discretionary power standpoint - not only have no right to say people should only vote for a presidential candidate with lots of experience, but insofar as they think Bush has done a great job, clearly experience has been shown to them not to matter. McCain bashes Obama for having little experience, then McCain picks a VP with less experience than Obama. Obama bashes McCain for picking someone as VP with so little experience (but not much less than him and basically equal as far as I'm concerned). Obama says some things matter more than experience. Biden says experience is very important which is why he was brought to the table, since Biden has lots of experience. McCain says experience matters yet picks someone with little to no experience as VP. What is it?

Does anyone have a clue what they really mean? Unfortunately, there seems to have been a covert agreement made between the political parties to not call each other's candidates out as hypocrites or point out inconsistencies in their statements and positions. It's better for them to agree to both be inconsistent illogical hypocrites than consistent and logical.

Many people could take over the job of President tomorrow and do far better than McCain or Obama ever could, and these are people who have not spent a single day of their lives in a state or federal elected office or other government job.

I'd love to point out Bush as an example of someone who had no experience and who did a horrible job, but the people who voted for him, having such little experience, are the same people who would say he has done a great job. Nobody has a clue what they really want or what really matters.
8.30.2008 2:58am
metro1 (mail) (www):
Mahan Atma:

"Bush was nothing more than a front"?

So who was "really pulling the strings"? The Illuminati? The Elders of Zion?

Go play with your 12-sided dice - and adjust the tin foil in your hat.

And Obama's "experience" is ... (wait for it) ... running his campaign? Good one. Next time you go for a job interview, tell the interviewer your experience was finding the way to their office. Good luck with that.
8.30.2008 3:09am
ChrisIowa (mail):

Obama ran a highly-successful, disciplined, efficient national campaign that out-maneuvered, out-raised, and out-strategized one of the biggest political machines in the business.

If you don't think that counts as a remarkable accomplishment and demonstration of executive power, you don't know the first thing about politics.


A month ago I was told very forcefully by a campaign operative I know (on the Democrat side)that the candidate does not run the campaign. The campaign manager runs the campaign.
8.30.2008 3:13am
Mahan Atma (mail):
"So who was "really pulling the strings"? The Illuminati? The Elders of Zion?"


No, Karl Rove. And Dick Cheney ran the Executive Branch.

Bush's only job was to look like a redneck that the average Republican would want to have a beer with.
8.30.2008 3:19am
6Kings (mail):
"I simply don't think experience matters."

This really shows your ignorance. Ever had a manager who never managed before versus an experienced manager? There is a huge difference. Ever seen a limited experience person get CEO at a major corp. NO.

As an executive, you must make decisions, be intelligent, and have experience to be the most effective. Barack has managed nothing but social/political organizations which operate in a completely different environment than what he is trying to achieve now. He is completely ignorant of economics, the constitution, and foreign policy. That is bad.
8.30.2008 3:19am
6Kings (mail):
"Obama ran a highly-successful, disciplined, efficient national campaign that out-maneuvered, out-raised, and out-strategized one of the biggest political machines in the business."

Obama didn't run it, his campaign manager did. Nice try though. Obama is a empty suit.
8.30.2008 3:22am
Mahan Atma (mail):
Sarah Palin pwned.

“Is this a joke?” That seemed to be the question du jour when my phone started ringing off the hook at 6:45am here in Alaska. I mean, we’re sort of excited that our humble state has gotten some kind of national ‘nod’….but seriously? Sarah Palin for Vice President?


“Executive Experience”


Before her meteoric rise to political success as governor, just two short years ago Sarah Palin was the mayor of Wasilla. I had a good chuckle at MSN.com’s claim that she had been the mayor of “Wasilla City”. It is not a city. Just Wasilla. Wasilla is the heart of the Alaska “Bible belt” and Sarah was raised amongst the tribe that believes creationism should be taught in our public schools, homosexuality is a sin, and life begins at conception. She’s a gun-toting, hang ‘em high conservative. Remember…this is where her approval ratings come from. There is no doubt that McCain again is making a strategic choice to appeal to a particular demographic - fundamentalist right-wing gun-owning Christians. And Republican bloggers are already gushing about how she has ‘more executive experience’ than Obama does! Above is a picture of lovely downtown Wasilla, for those of you unfamiliar with the area. Behind the Mug-Shot Saloon (the first bar I visited when I moved to Alaska long ago) is a little strip mall. There are street signs in Wasilla with bullet holes in them. Wasilla has a population of about 5500 people, and 1979 occupied housing units. This is where your potential Vice President was two short years ago. Can you imagine her negotiating a nuclear non-proliferation treaty? Discussing foreign policy? Understanding non-Alaskan issues? Frankly, I don’t even know if she’s ever been out of the country. She may ‘get’ Alaska, but there are only a half a million people here. Don’t get me wrong….I love Alaska with all my heart. I’m just saying.
8.30.2008 3:22am
Mahan Atma (mail):
"Obama didn't run it, his campaign manager did."


You're wrong. He's obviously not the only decision-maker, but Obama is deeply involved in managing his campaign. There are several news series that document it in detail.
8.30.2008 3:25am
6Kings (mail):
"Didn’t he run the Chicago Annenberg Challenge for several years? Why hasn’t he discussed that more because that is his only real executive experience?"

You know why? Check Wikipedia. The result of his Chairmanship was squandered money that made no significant difference in the schools it was supposed to help.

In real terms, he burned through a government grant and didn't get anything out of it. Nice leadership!
8.30.2008 3:26am
6Kings (mail):
"You're wrong. He's obviously not the only decision-maker, but Obama is deeply involved in managing his campaign. There are several news series that document it in detail."

Too funny! You mistake executive leadership for decision making. Of course he made decisions - advisors put a list in front and said chose a,b, or c. Obama picks b and they all cheer that he was heavily involved.

We are talking two different types of "running things".
8.30.2008 3:31am
MrGraffen:
Look- Palin made it clear that she had no idea what being a vice president involved, like most all of us. But what on earth would she want this position for? She can't want creationism in the schools that badly (she clearly doesn't, she's just confused on the issue). The problem isn't experience. The problem is that this looks like a sadistic choice, even vaguely misogynistic.
8.30.2008 3:33am
Mahan Atma (mail):
"We are talking two different types of "running things"."



This coming from people who think George Bush runs the Executive Branch.
8.30.2008 3:35am
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
Even if Palin is a great manager and reformer, her experience is 100% domestic. She has no experience of foreign affairs and there appears to be no evidence she knows anything about them. Do we really want a President whose qualifications are purely on the domestic side?
8.30.2008 3:38am
James Lindgren (mail):
Mahan Atma,

So why didn't you print WHY they wanted the guy fired? From your account one would think it was just personal.

If the allegations are true, don't you think that a dirty cop should be fired, one who tasered a child just to see her squirm?

Few governors who pretended to be ethical would think they could get away with pressuring someone to fire someone unless there was a REASON, even if it were only a pretext. Without giving the reason, you are misleading people.
8.30.2008 3:41am
6Kings (mail):
"Even if Palin is a great manager and reformer, her experience is 100% domestic. She has no experience of foreign affairs and there appears to be no evidence she knows anything about them. Do we really want a President whose qualifications are purely on the domestic side?"

You are kidding right? Obama, who is running for President has no experience other than legislating and badly at that. Are you actually arguing against Obama? That is ironic.
8.30.2008 3:42am
Jerrod Ankenman:

Obama ran a highly-successful, disciplined, efficient national campaign that out-maneuvered, out-raised, and out-strategized one of the biggest political machines in the business.


Obviously we should just elect David Axelrod president.
8.30.2008 3:49am
Mahan Atma (mail):
BTW, gotta love the "First Dude" Todd Palin, champion snowmobile racer!
8.30.2008 3:51am
Mahan Atma (mail):
"So why didn't you print WHY they wanted the guy fired? From your account one would think it was just personal."


Oh, I'm sure the whole bitter divorce thing was just a coincidence.

Of course that doesn't explain why Palin had to walk back her original denials. You know what they say, it's isn't the crime, it's the cover-up...
8.30.2008 3:55am
McGraffen:
Hating on Palin is really unfair. That selecting a woman could be baldly misogynistic (and damaging to a person already under great strain, regardless of gender), is just cruelty pure and simple. McCain derailed his train, for whatever reasons. It's hard to watch.
8.30.2008 3:58am
A. Zarkov (mail):
"... but Obama is deeply involved in managing his campaign. There are several news series that document it in detail."

Tell us which news series and why they have credibility because the MSM is virtually part of the BHO campaign. How do we know David Axelrod is not the real brains behind the victory? BHO also benefited from Hillary's mistakes: trying for a knockout on Super Tuesday instead of going for points. Lots of terrible presidents had good campaigns. The fact that people keep coming up with the same lame example shows how desperate they are to find any accomplishments.
8.30.2008 4:03am
Bill Poser (mail) (www):

You are kidding right? Obama, who is running for President has no experience other than legislating and badly at that. Are you actually arguing against Obama? That is ironic.


As others have pointed out, your description of Obama's experience is incorrect, but insofar as you were responding to my point, Obama has some experience of foreign policy as a Senator and has at least shown that he has thought about it in his campaign statements. Palin, as a small-town mayor and governor has zero experience of foreign affairs and shows no evidence of any knowledge of them.
8.30.2008 4:06am
VincentPaul (mail):
BP, Please specify of what Obama's foreign policy experience as a senator consists.
8.30.2008 4:24am
jgshapiro (mail):
I'm not sure what Palin should have done differently re the trooper.

Consider: what if she knew that the trooper had beaten her sister, had tasered a child for kicks, etc. and after asking that the trooper be investigated, simply let it drop when he was retained? The reaction from most would have been that she should have done more to get him out of there, since she runs the government, she had personal knowledge of his malfeasance and allowing such a person to be a state trooper is unacceptable to most people who look at this objectively. But if she demands that he be fired, and when he isn't, decides that she has the wrong guy as director of public safety and replaces the DPS, she is then accused of abusing her power and pursuing some sort of vendetta against the trooper. Basically, she is damned if she does and damned if she doesn't.

This whole story seems like the kind of thing that sounds bad when you first hear about it, but then sounds like nothing once you get more facts. Basically, it is the Dem's answer to the Bill Ayers story. It will probably make a great 30-second commercial for the Dems in the next 2-3 weeks (just as the Bill Ayers thing will make a great 30-second commercial for the GOP), but will disappear as an issue (and unlike Bill Ayers, might even help her) after the VP debate when she explains what the commercial leaves out.

To the extent that she proves a drag on the ticket (if any), it won't be because of "troopergate."
8.30.2008 4:37am
Displaced Midwesterner:
The important decisions that a President makes, whether on issue foreign or domestic, are so full of ultimately unknowable consequences and uncontrollable variables that it is ultimately probably more a matter of luck than anything else if things turn out good or bad. We should save ourselves time, money, and the headaches of the political process by, instead of choosing between a Republican and a Democrat, choosing between rolling dice or throwing a dart to make decisions.

On a slightly more serious note (only slightly, because that first part is only half in jest), it seems to me that one of the most important traits a President needs is the ability to select good people. You can only do so much yourself. I haven't heard too much about this for either of the candidates. Does anyone have any links to useful information about how they stack up in this regard? (although I guess the fact that both candidates lack executive experience means that their track records in this regard are harder to follow, involving mostly staffers)
8.30.2008 5:01am
jgshapiro (mail):

Obama has some experience of foreign policy as a Senator and has at least shown that he has thought about it in his campaign statements.

Well, Palin has made very few campaign statements of any kind as she was just named the running mate this morning. Obama has been running for president for 18 months or more. So this is kind of a meaningless comparison.

Also, you are assuming that because she has not made statements about foreign policy, she has not thought about the topic and has no opinions or knowledge about it. I don't know where you get that from. It implies that no governor would ever be qualified for president or VP since few make statements about their views on foreign policy or have any reason to. Yet, as you probably know, several presidents or VPs elected in recent history (and not-so-recent history) have been elected from a governor's mansion without having previously served in Washington or otherwise acquired foreign policy experience, e.g., GWB, Clinton, Reagan, Carter, FDR, Coolidge, Wilson, Teddy Roosevelt (Gov to VP), etc. From a governance perspective, I'm not sure there is any evidence that the folks on this list did a worse job across the board than the folks who came to the job with foreign policy cred.

From a political perspective, there is no question that picking Palin hurts McCain's ability to make the campaign about Obama's inexperience. But it does not allow Obama to make the campaign about Palin's inexperience. It just takes experience off the table as an issue. Presumably, McCain decided that she added enough other assets to the ticket to outweigh whatever value he thought he was getting, or was going to get from playing the inexperience card. Is that a huge gamble? Maybe, but only if you think the inexperience card was a sure winner or you think she adds nothing at all. Personally, I'm not sure how much he was getting from playing the inexperience card, and I don't think it would have outweighed the enthusiasm deficit his campaign was suffering, at least up until today. Put differently, I think he would have surely lost if he had picked Romney, Pawlenty, Lieberman or Ridge and now he at least has a shot.

More generally, I continue to be amazed that people think Palin is too inexperienced to be vice president, but at the same time think Obama is experienced enough to be president. The mental gymnastics required to arrive at that conclusion are indeed impressive. I confess that I have always thought that the presidency was more important than the vice presidency, even when the presidential candidate was on the older side. To state the obvious, Palin may or may not become president if McCain wins, but Obama is sure to become president if Obama wins.
8.30.2008 5:14am
Damiano (mail):
Mahan Atma (mail):

"Palin’s experience is superior to Obama's"




"What a joke.

Obama ran a highly-successful, disciplined, efficient national campaign that out-maneuvered, out-raised, and out-strategized one of the biggest political machines in the business.

If you don't think that counts as a remarkable accomplishment and demonstration of executive power, you don't know the first thing about politics."


Reasonable argument, but let's talk about the full context:

1. Clinton's campaign was initially a joke. She bankrupted the campaign by Super Tuesday running by running solely on a sense of entitlement and invincibility, powered by a worthless media. Only after that, did she actually run a campaign, but was destitute other than her personal funds. Interestingly, though- she trounced him from there out.
2. Neither candidate won the nomination. Super-delegates backed Obama for no good reason than to try and avoid a catfight convention and that he had a modest lead from Super Tuesday. This fact was highlight by the dog and pony show/ suspension of voting we saw at the convention. If the Democrats actually had a democratic process, Obama would have lost.
3. ACORN. I am reaching on this, admittedly, but it passes the sniff test and is consistent with his "Chitown politics" record. The caucus fraud in Texas is apparent to anyone who can add.

It can be argued that Obama has never really been elected to anything. He knocked his opponent off the ballot on a technicality for his State seat and his opponent ran off with BS corruption charged for his Fed seat. Even the media noted that this would be his first real election.

Granted, he's still run a spectacular campaign. I take nothing away from him there, but let's not overstate things. He's also been running 15+ points behind his party the whole time.

----

Jim Lindgren, my complements on an excellent piece. I won't deny that Palin is not "traditional" and arguably thin. What she lacks in time, she more than makes up for in accomplishment. By that standard, she even rivals McCain. She is his younger, female political twin. She's dealt politically with Canada, so she's not a FP noob like Obama. Put her on a plane before November and it will ease everyone's mind, I am certain.

I would argue that, were she a male, she would have still been a top contender. Again, her accomplishments rival anyone. Being female helped get her the nod, but it was certainly not the reason for it.

Compare the other way: For all Romney's pluses, came with far more liabilities. Pawlenty is a nice guy and a good Governor... and he needs to stay there or get him and Romney on the cabinet. not VP. Cantor was cool, but has an equally thin resume and is numbing to hear speak, even though he's good at it. Crist's only attraction was FL, and I doubt he would have made much difference. Hutchison is a Senator... Period. Lieberman... no. Put him in the cabinet too. Palin can stand with all of them on merit of accomplishments, she's got far fewer legitimate negatives and she brings massive excitement to the ticket that was otherwise impossible.

Overall, best choice McCain could have made.
8.30.2008 5:21am
poul (mail) (www):

nothing in my memory of the past thirty years makes me think that either the Senate in particular or American government in general would look different without Biden's contributions.


i think it would be much, much less evil:


* Biden...sponsored a bill in 2002 that would have make it a federal felony to trick certain types of devices into playing unauthorized music or executing unapproved computer programs.

* Biden sponsored an RIAA-backed bill called the Perform Act aimed at restricting Americans' ability to record and play back individual songs from satellite and Internet radio services.

* In the 1990s, Biden...introduced a bill called the Comprehensive Counter-Terrorism Act...A second Biden bill was called the Violent Crime Control Act. Both were staunchly anti-encryption, with...identical language...that means turn over your encryption keys.

* "Joe Biden made his second attempt to introduce such legislation" in the form of the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), which was also known as the Digital Telephony law...CALEA became law in October 1994, and is still bedeviling privacy advocates: the FBI recently managed to extend its requirements to Internet service providers.

* Biden pushed to make posting bomb-making information on the Internet a felony, punishable by up to 20 years in jail,

* Biden... proposed spending $1 billion in U.S. tax dollars so police can monitor peer-to-peer networks for illegal activity (i.e. sharing music).

http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-10024163-38.html


positively evil.
8.30.2008 5:22am
Angus:
How about McCain-Palin supporters be honest? Here is Palin's real quote on Creationism in the schools:
"Teach both. You know, don't be afraid of information. Healthy debate is so important, and it's so valuable in our schools. I am a proponent of teaching both."
She got such withering criticism over it that she was forced to backtrack and say that in fact she "meant" to say that she would not propose teaching both. She didn't really change her belief that Creationism must be taught in school, she just learned to hide it better.
8.30.2008 5:39am
Lyle (mail):
Angus,

You're being intellectually dishonest. She immediately clarified what she said shortly after the TV comments.

She's on record saying creationism shouldn't be part of Alaska's public school curriculum. And not one of the members to the State Board of Education in Alaska that she appointed has tried to push creationism into the school curriculum. None of them have pro-creationism stance whatsoever, or at least none of them have said so publicly.

From another article:

Concerning education, while running for Governor of Alaska she was asked about the teaching of creationism in public school science classes. Palin answered that she thought it was healthy for both creationism and evolution to be taught together; although she clarified the next day that she meant that open debate between the two ideas should not be prohibited if it came up in discussion, but that creationism did not need to be part of the curriculum. She also added that she would not appoint State Board of Education members based on their opinions on evolution or creationism. Since her election she has appointed three of the seven Board members, who serve five-year terms: Patrick Shier, Phillip Schneider, and Geraldine Benshoof. None of these appointments attracted criticism on this issue.

8.30.2008 5:57am
Math_Mage (mail) (www):
What a joke.

Obama ran a highly-successful, disciplined, efficient national campaign that out-maneuvered, out-raised, and out-strategized one of the biggest political machines in the business.

If you don't think that counts as a remarkable accomplishment and demonstration of executive power, you don't know the first thing about politics.


Yes, Obama's not half bad at RUNNING for President. But Sarah Palin wasn't half bad at RUNNING for Governor, beating out both the Republican incumbent in the primary and the Democratic challenger in the general. Furthermore, Palin actually has a fairly impressive list of accomplishments for her first couple years at the job, while Obama abandoned his Senate seat halfway through to run for President full-time and, between his state legislature "experience" and his time in the Senate, voted "present" more than just about anybody else.

Here's an example of one of his legislative accomplishments in the Illinois legislature:


Forgive me for being skeptical about the likelihood of the bill initially receiving significant opposition from various groups and Barack magicking that into a 35-0 Illinois Senate vote.

As others have pointed out, your description of Obama's experience is incorrect, but insofar as you were responding to my point, Obama has some experience of foreign policy as a Senator and has at least shown that he has thought about it in his campaign statements. Palin, as a small-town mayor and governor has zero experience of foreign affairs and shows no evidence of any knowledge of them.


Yes, Obama has the advantage of a whole year and a half in the Senate and a year and a half running for President over Palin on foreign policy "experience" (meaning he managed to create a viewpoint over three years and not much else). I'm not too impressed, especially since any actual accomplishments Obama has had, he garnered domestically in the Illinois legislature.

From a political perspective, there is no question that picking Palin hurts McCain's ability to make the campaign about Obama's inexperience. But it does not allow Obama to make the campaign about Palin's inexperience. It just takes experience off the table as an issue.


I'd think people would be far more concerned about an inexperienced President than an inexperienced Veep. The experience issue is still a net gain for McCain.
8.30.2008 6:05am
Blar (mail) (www):
Obama's accomplishments in the Senate include a nuclear nonproliferation bill with Dick Lugar and a bill with Coburn on government transparency. They both seem like pretty important bills to me, and I don't think that either one would've happened without Obama. In the Illinois state senate, Obama was responsible for a bill reforming police interrogations (as Mahan Atma mentioned). For Biden there's the Violence Against Women Act, which has had a huge effect on how our country deals with domestic violence.

Turning to Stuntz's list of McCain's accomplishments, if we're looking at how a politician has "left his mark" then I don't see how we can include an immigration bill that didn't pass. And "frequent attacks on Congressional pork" aren't an accomplishment either - did he get results? That leaves McCain-Feingold and his role in the Gang of 14.

Finally, getting to Palin, if accomplishments are the issue then we really should be talking what she has accomplished as governor, not using her approval rating as circumstantial evidence that she must've accomplished something. But if we are going to peer at approval ratings, I'll note that (what I've heard is that) Palin's approval rating was very high right after she took office and has dropped a bit in the year and a half since then, which doesn't sound like evidence for accomplishments in office to me.
8.30.2008 6:15am
Nate in Alice:
I'm shocked that no one on this site counts Obama's 8 years as an Illinois State Senator as "experience", even though his district had 27 times the population of Wasilla. 27.

Jesus, this is getting pathetic.

(Not to mention Harvard Law magna cum laude vs. a F**KING "Communications" major from U of Idaho.)

You folks have lost it.
8.30.2008 6:40am
Hey Skipper (mail) (www):
Her accomplishments stand up against Obama's just fine.

Even better, she's not a lawyer.
8.30.2008 7:03am
Angus:
Lyle,
I am being completely honest. That's what Palin said in a gubenatorial debate. She didn't "clarify" her remarks "immediately," but rather the next day.

This is from the offical platform of the Alaska Republican Party:

We support giving Creation Science equal representation with other theories of the origin of life. If evolution is taught, it should be presented as only a theory.
8.30.2008 7:37am
Angus:
Nate in Alice,

Agreed. And notice now how being a military officer is now "executive experience" when it wasn't considered so before yesterday. Can't have the VP candidate having more "executive experience" than McCain.
8.30.2008 7:46am
PersonFromPorlock:
I take it from the tenor of many of the comments here that Palin has the Democrats rattled.

One point about experience is that experience at what? is a very good question and the answer, for Obama, Biden and, yes, McCain, is "at bringing us the government we're used to." It's Palin who has experience at bringing about the government we say we want.
8.30.2008 7:53am
sputnik (mail):
experience, shmexpirience.
What are the candidates stand for?
What are their positions and ideology?
Another Bush replica of failed neoconservative policies -
Antagonize the world, run cold or God forbid hot war again?
Belligerence, hot headedness?
Or people for the real reform , realists in foreign relationships who were right on every issue in their judgement?
For the future of America, energy independence, better education etc, or for the past.
IS the majority of people who post here lawyers?
What a shortsightedness. Shame...
Let me see, do some of you guys make more then $250 000 ?

You know, if neocons will achieve whatever they want to achieve on the world scene, may be we will not need all that money, what are we and our kids going to do with them in the grave?
8.30.2008 8:14am
Smokey:
I take it from the tenor of many of the comments here that Palin has the Democrats rattled.
Man, that is the absolute truth of the matter. You can smell their fear.

Palin has more guts than Obama, doubled and squared. Obama -- as Hillary Clinton has pointed out -- voted "Present" over 130 times, in a very short legislative career. Name another politician who has that kind of a pathetic voting record. "Present." heh.

That's not taking a stand, that is a coward hiding out. Obama has no convictions. He's just an empty suit. Compare Obama's lack of backbone to Sarah Palin. The woman makes the girly-man look like the wuss he is.

It's obvious that the Obama worshipers here got nothin'. Nothin' but Kool Ade.
8.30.2008 8:17am
Smokey:
I take it from the tenor of many of the comments here that Palin has the Democrats rattled.
Man, that is the absolute truth of the matter. You can smell their fear.

Palin has more guts than Obama, doubled and squared. Obama -- as Hillary Clinton has pointed out -- voted "Present" over 130 times, in a very short legislative career. Name another politician who has that kind of a pathetic voting record. "Present." heh.

That's not taking a stand, that is a coward hiding out. Obama has no convictions. He's just an empty suit. Compare Obama's lack of backbone to Sarah Palin. The woman makes the girly-man look like the wuss he is.

It's obvious that the Obama worshipers here got nothin'. Nothin' but Kool Ade.
8.30.2008 8:17am
Ryan Waxx (mail):
Does anyone here think that if the McCain-Palin ticket is elected, we'll be seeing the federal government mandating creationism being taught in public schools?

If so, what's your evidence that this is on their agenda? Citing actual deeds instead of empty words would be nice.

If not, then what the heck is your point? Going for the ick factor and hoping the slime sticks?
8.30.2008 8:30am
Smokey:
[Sorry about the double post. I take full responsibility for the skyrocketing blood pressure of the Messiah's acolytes.]

Oh, and isn't sputnik the same guy who was recently singing the praises of Russia's blitzkrieg invasion of Georgia? According to sputnik, everything was 100% the fault of those 4 million evil, threatening Georgians with practically no army. Russia [population 141 million] was only defending its delicate self by invading their little country.

Poor misunderstood Putin, the guy can't catch a break, right, sputnik? So, how are things in your one-bedroom Moscow apartment? Is it cozy living with eight other people? And tell us, sputnik: why does Pooty-poot want to get Odumbo elected? Enquiring minds over here want to know.
8.30.2008 8:36am
sputnik (mail):
Sarah Palin is profoundly, staggeringly ignorant about foreign policy.
She’s not going to yank any women from the Democrats, she’s there to mobilize you, Smokey – the nutter base of the Republican party. But since the nutter base of the Republican party already claims that Barack Obama drinks human blood each morning before throwing himself prostrate to Mecca, I don’t see how Palin is going to accomplish anything more along these lines.

This is one of the great throwaway VP picks in recent American history.
8.30.2008 8:45am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Oh, I'm sure the whole bitter divorce thing was just a coincidence.

Of course that doesn't explain why Palin had to walk back her original denials. You know what they say, it's isn't the crime, it's the cover-up...
Uh, what cover up? Hint: the word doesn't mean what you think it means. Denying guilt is not a cover up.

Palin denied pressuring him to fire Wooten. She started the investigation, and when it was found that her staffer had done so, she brought it forth. That's the opposite of a cover up.
8.30.2008 8:55am
LM (mail):
Math_Mage:


What a joke.

Obama ran a highly-successful, disciplined, efficient national campaign that out-maneuvered, out-raised, and out-strategized one of the biggest political machines in the business.

If you don't think that counts as a remarkable accomplishment and demonstration of executive power, you don't know the first thing about politics.

Yes, Obama's not half bad at RUNNING for President. But Sarah Palin wasn't half bad at RUNNING for Governor, beating out both the Republican incumbent in the primary and the Democratic challenger in the general.

That's good too. Just one small difference. The campaign Obama's running is staffed (paid and volunteer) with four times as many people as the entire population of Alaska.

But you guys should keep telling yourselves that the smooth, successful running of an operation that size says nothing about the executive skills of the guy at the top.
8.30.2008 9:00am
The Ace (mail):
Obama ran a highly-successful, disciplined, efficient national campaign that out-maneuvered, out-raised, and out-strategized one of the biggest political machines in the business.

If you don't think that counts as a remarkable accomplishment and demonstration of executive power, you don't know the first thing about politics.


Laugh out loud funny.
When is the last time Obama has ran, I won't even ask defeated, against an incumbent?
Answer: Never

We know for sure you know nothing about politics.

March on with your delusions, clown.
8.30.2008 9:01am
The Ace (mail):
Sarah Palin is profoundly, staggeringly ignorant about foreign policy.


Barack Obama is profoundly, staggeringly ignorant about foreign policy. And economics as a matter of fact.

Sarah Palin is the Governor of a state bordering 2 countries, however.
8.30.2008 9:03am
The Ace (mail):
Mahan Atma,

I hope you are getting paid by the post. Because you are getting dumber as they go.
8.30.2008 9:04am
The Ace (mail):
Bush was nothing more than a front. If he'd actually been put in charge of his campaigns, they would have crashed and burned like the Hindenburg.

Obama is nothing more than a front, enabled by the media.

I look forward to all the facts you can post proving your silly allegations by the way.

Again, where do you drooling imbeciles come from?
8.30.2008 9:05am
The Ace (mail):
Not to mention Harvard Law magna cum laude vs. a F**KING "Communications" major from U of Idaho

That is the reason your party can't win elections.

The true colors always come out with you ignorants. Always.
8.30.2008 9:06am
Angus:

Sarah Palin is the Governor of a state bordering 2 countries, however.
Saying that Alaska "borders Russia by water" is like saying that California borders Japan by water.
8.30.2008 10:03am
wb (mail):
Regarding Stunz' third definition, it is the one that most executive recruiter's and search committees are looking at. What have been the challenges of the positions that you have held and what are your accomplishments in response to those challenges. How did you make a difference? in institutional performance and reputation? to the bottom line? in productivity? When one asks in that way the time in a position is not what matters. It is what one did with the time.

As the post notes Warner has been successful in just this manner. Palin is a big question mark. And by this manner Obama's experience is very thin indeed. It is hard to imagine this resume being credible for a CEO position at any major corporation. To be sure a political leader needs more than competence; charisma helps a great deal. But in the end the requirements for being CEO of the US are more than "can you get them to drink the Kool-aid?"

Let's face it American voters have a big two-way crapshoot on their hands. Ilya Somin's wish for divided government looks better every day.
8.30.2008 10:09am
SKardner (mail):
Sarah Palin is the Governor of a state bordering 2 countries, however.

Saying that Alaska "borders Russia by water" is like saying that California borders Japan by water.


Or, it's like saying, "I hereby admit that Sarah Palin is unqualified."
8.30.2008 10:11am
Angus:
I know this: If Palin was a man with the same resume, Republicans would be wondering why someone so unready was nominated to be VP. But good to see that Republicans have finally come around to supporting affirmative action.
8.30.2008 10:12am
Michael Drake (mail) (www):
Wow, parallel universes here. Sure look forward to the collapse of the wave function in November, though. (Forgive the mixed metaphors.)
8.30.2008 10:27am
Scots:
Angus, I know this, if Obama were white with the same resume, he would have received fewer primary votes than Gravel.
8.30.2008 10:42am
Scots:
The hilarious thing is, all of these posts compare Obama to Palin. If Obama's supporters would exchange "McCain" for "Obama" and "Obama" for "Palin" (because Obama is actually running against McCain, remember) they would see that they have no leg to stand on.
8.30.2008 10:46am
Scots:
The hilarious thing is, all of these posts compare Obama to Palin. If Obama's supporters would exchange "McCain" for "Obama" and "Obama" for "Palin" (because Obama is actually running against McCain, remember) they would see that they have no leg to stand on.
8.30.2008 10:46am
Lyle (mail):
Angus,

She doesn't support teaching creationism in schools. And as Governor nobody she put on the Education Board supports it.

What do you not understand about this?
8.30.2008 11:00am
Angus:
She doesn't support teaching creationism in schools. And as Governor nobody she put on the Education Board supports it.
Well, then, we are left with the mystery of why she said she supported creationism in the classroom.

Oh, that's right, she later "clarified" herself to mean the opposite of what she said. So, Republicans will now stop accusing Obama of lying when he was just "clarifying" his statements?
8.30.2008 11:12am
MarkField (mail):

So why didn't you print WHY they wanted the guy fired? From your account one would think it was just personal.

If the allegations are true, don't you think that a dirty cop should be fired, one who tasered a child just to see her squirm?


This would be a legitimate argument, except for one small problem: Gov. Palin is not making it. She has never said, "sure I urged that the guy be fired because he was a danger to the people of Alaska". She denies using any influence at all. So if it now comes out that she DID use her influence, she'll be guilty of lying all along.
8.30.2008 11:15am
pluribus:
I remember Nixon gloating about McGovern's disastrous pick of Eagleton. He bragged that he would never make such a blunder and he was standing firmly by Agnew. Which is worse, getting electric shock treatments and not disclosing the fact, or being continuously on the take both before and after becoming vice president? Eagleton had been treated for depression, and Agnew was a crook, and both were picked to be a heartbeat away. Eagleton was a senator without executive experience, and Angew had been chief executive officer of Baltimore County and governor of Maryland. What did experience tell you about the presidential qualifications of these two ill-starred vice presidential picks? Nothing.
8.30.2008 11:17am
trad and anon:
Sarah Palin is the Governor of a state bordering 2 countries, however.

Oh, yes, the oh-so-important Canada-Alaska border, and the Alaska-Russia "border."

As states go, Alaska is tiny--it's about the size of Fort Worth. And the government is nothing like the U.S. government--it receives so much from oil revenues that they're able to do without either an income tax or a sales tax and still cut everyone in the state a check every year. The mayor of Detroit is more qualified.
8.30.2008 11:45am
ROA:
6Kings:

You were the only person who responded to my question concerning Obama’s time as head of the CAC even though that is by far the best example of his executive capabilities. We both know why. It was a dismal failure.

Which action do you think will upset voters more:

Firing a state trooper who admitted tasering an 11 year old child, or

Being the chairman of a group that squandered more than $100 million dollars which was supposed to be spent improving children’s education?
8.30.2008 11:47am
Sam H (mail):
" I take it from the tenor of many of the comments here that Palin has the Democrats rattled.

Man, that is the absolute truth of the matter. You can smell their fear. "

Sure can. Look at this post on KOS. They have gone off the deep end already.

Palin's faked "pregnancy"? Covering for teen daughter?
8.30.2008 11:48am
elim:
for all the experts on Obama and the Illinois Senate, I haven't seen one who even knows who Emil Jones is and how BHO was his loyal foot soldier. Emil didn't graduate from the Ivy League or manage any law review but BHO never voted in a way Emil didn't want him to. that's how you separate a follower (Obama) from a leader.
8.30.2008 12:29pm
MQuinn:
Sam H -- Wow! I don't know how comfortable I am with reporters digging that deep into a candidate's personal life, but if that story turns out to be true, it is very big trouble for McCain.

The Ace -- why so many multiple posts?

Everyone else -- IMHO, the nuanced distinctions that the right-leaning and left-leaning commenters and posters have made b/t Obama's and Palin's respective experiences are ineffective. Firstly, Palin is not running for President, so the comparison, while relevant, is blunt. Second, both candidates' respective experiences are de minimis. Draw distinctions if you must, but acknowledge that ideally both candidates should have more experience.

BTW, as an Obama supporter, it pains me to admit that.
8.30.2008 12:35pm
Dave N (mail):
MQuinn,

As a McCain supporter, I happen to agree with you. With respect to the Kos smears, they have as much validity as the crap that Obama is a Muslim, wasn't born in the United States, etc. etc.
8.30.2008 12:43pm
pluribus:
In checking the biography of Spiro Angew, I find some peculiar similarities to that of Sarah Palin. When he became Richard Nixon's vice presidential pick in 1968, Angew was noted as a political reformer in Maryland who had had an almost meteoric rise from obscurity to national prominence. He was elected Baltimore County Executive in 1962 and governor of Maryland in 1966, only two years before he was elected vice president. Palin was mayor of Wasilla in 2006 when she was elected governor, and if she is elected vice president in 2008 her rise from an obscure local position to national prominence will match that of Angew. Angew went on to become the only vice president in U.S. history to resign because of criminal charges. After resigning, he pleaded nolo contendere to charges that he had accepted bribes during his tenure as governor of Maryland. The facts showed that he had taken some of the money over his vice presidential desk.

I cite this similarity not to claim that Palin is a crook, as Angew admittedly was, as I have absolutely no reason to belief that she is. I cite it merely to show that a quick political rise, a reputation for reform, and inadequate vetting can lead to a distrastrous vice presidential pick.

We should all be glad that Angew's crimes came to light before rather than after Nixon resigned, so that Ford rather than Agnew became Nixon's successor.

We can learn some curious lessons from history.
8.30.2008 12:48pm
metro1 (mail) (www):
The Dems had no problem with Obama's almost-VP-pick - Governor Kaine of Virginia.

And Palin has more experience than Kaine.

So it's clear - and not very surprising - that the Complaints about Palin's experience are partisan-based, not fact-based. Otherwise these same people would not have been gushing all along about a guy who's only served part of a term as Senator from Illinois.

There's not way around it: Obama has zero executive experience. Biden has zero executive experience. Palin has been Governor and Mayor. McCain has military command experience. And no-experience Obama is on the TOP of your ticket.

Obama loses on the experience argument. His devotees know it and can't stand it - because they hadn't worried about experience before - just his Messiah-like aura.
8.30.2008 12:50pm
metro1 (mail) (www):
When it comes to experience - there are negative types of experience.

For example - Joe Biden has lots of experience plagiarizing others - he did it in law school and in 1987 during his Presidential campaign.

"Experience" is an argument where the Dems have nothing but bad news: a one-term Senator from Illinois and a serial plagiarist. Great experience.
8.30.2008 12:56pm
MarkField (mail):

And Palin has more experience than Kaine.


Maybe, if you measure quantity instead of quality. But it's a pretty silly argument to claim that running a state like Alaska for a couple of years compares in any way to running VA for longer than that. No, Palin is LESS "experienced" than Kaine.

And Karl Rove says Kaine isn't experienced enough; that choosing Kaine would be a sign that political considerations trumped the national interest (paraphrasing, of course).
8.30.2008 1:34pm
The Dude (mail):
"Even if Palin is a great manager and reformer, her experience is 100% domestic. She has no experience of foreign affairs and there appears to be no evidence she knows anything about them. Do we really want a President whose qualifications are purely on the domestic side?"

No, that's why I'm voting for John McCain.

You don't honestly think that 8 years in the State Senate and 4 years running for president in the Senate gives Obama qualifications on foreign affairs, do you?

Palin's experience is AT LEAST as much as Obama's, I'd say much moreso. And she's at the bottom of the ticket, not the top.
8.30.2008 1:36pm
davod (mail):

"Consider a bill into which Obama clearly put his heart and soul. The problem he wanted to address was that too many confessions, rather than being voluntary, were coerced -- by beating the daylights out of the accused.
ad_icon"

Who was the poor legislator who worked for years on this before Obama's Godfather stole it off him (Just when the Dems had the votes to pass it) and gave it to Obama so the One could look good.
8.30.2008 1:42pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
Who was the poor legislator who worked for years on this before Obama's Godfather stole it off him (Just when the Dems had the votes to pass it) and gave it to Obama so the One could look good.

Interesting spin. Who do you want on your team? The guy who fumbled the ball time after time, or the guy who can take the ball and run it over the goal line?
8.30.2008 1:52pm
wb (mail):
Two points:

1) The press and many posters seem to equate "knowledge about" with "experience in." That is just plain wrong; I sure know many brilliantly knowledgeable people who could not manage their way out of a paper bag. Hence, the question what are "your accomplishments" and exactly what share of the action in those were you responsible for?" When we talking about managing the US government I see an appalling lack of experience on both sides.

2) Thinking through McCain's options, it is not clear that other choices gave him any greater advantage electorially. On the experience side clearly the greatest addition would have been Romney, who has a very solid list of executive accomplishment in both the public and private sector. But Romney almost certainly loses votes. Ridge solid as a governor perhaps, failed as a Sec of Homeland Security, definitely. Plus he helps the charge of "four more years of Bush" stick harder. Lieberman? solidifies those leaning Democrat to vote for Obama. Jindal, same issues as Palin, but not as "maverick." Other white males don't much help shake the "four more years of Bush" label. Condi? this self-proclaimed Russia expert gets a failing grade for managing that relationship, plus there is no indication that she could campaign effectively. So we get to Palin - a huge risk, put with some potential positives - in any case it is McCain's strongest display that he is no four more years of the same.

One should have wished for a Hilary v. Romney race.
8.30.2008 1:56pm
davod (mail):
"That's good too. Just one small difference. The campaign Obama's running is staffed (paid and volunteer) with four times as many people as the entire population of Alaska.

But you guys should keep telling yourselves that the smooth, successful running of an operation that size says nothing about the executive skills of the guy at the top."

Just think how many people he will need running th govenment.
8.30.2008 2:00pm
davod (mail):
"Interesting spin. Who do you want on your team? The guy who fumbled the ball time after time, or the guy who can take the ball and run it over the goal line?"

Theft is theft. Godfather Emil Jones bragged that he was "going to make me a Senator (Federal) and stole 23 pieces of legislation from other Dems and put The One's name on them. This of course when he was still known as plain old Barack.
8.30.2008 2:03pm
PC:
It looks like Mayor Palin left Wasilla with a $20 million dollar tab when she left office and Governor Palin implemented windfall profit taxes on oil companies to increase the state coffers.
8.30.2008 2:36pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

Godfather Emil Jones

Hello Todd Spivak

Rickey Hendon isn't singing that tune (I wuz robbed!) any more.
8.30.2008 2:56pm
metro1 (mail) (www):
Obama has lots of experience hob-nobbing in Chicago high society with admitted domestic terrorist Bill Ayers.

"Experience" is an argument where the Dems have nothing but bad news: a partial-term Senator from Illinois and a serial plagiarist. Great experience.

As usual, Mark Steyn has it right:

Mark Steyn's take on Governor Sarah Palin:

* * *

What other country in the developed world produces beauty queens who hunt caribou and serve up a terrific moose stew? As an immigrant, I'm not saying I came to the United States purely to meet chicks like that, but it was certainly high on my list of priorities. And for the gun-totin' Miss Wasilla then to go on to become Governor while having five kids makes it an even more uniquely American story. Next to her resume, a guy who's done nothing but serve in the phony-baloney job of "community organizer" and write multiple autobiographies looks like just another creepily self-absorbed lifelong member of the full-time political class that infests every advanced democracy.

* * *

Sarah Palin and Barack Obama are more or less the same age, but Governor Palin has run a state and a town and a commercial fishing operation, whereas (to reprise a famous line on the Rev Jackson) Senator Obama ain't run nothin' but his mouth. She's done the stuff he's merely a poseur about. Post-partisan? She took on her own party's corrupt political culture directly while Obama was sucking up to Wright and Ayers and being just another get-along Chicago machine pol (see his campaign's thuggish attempt to throttle Stanley Kurtz and Milt Rosenberg on WGN the other night).

* * *

Exactly right.

See, also, Rachel Lucas' take on Governor Sarah Palin
8.30.2008 3:08pm
subpatre (mail):
Mark Warner didn't just warm the Virginia Governor's chair; he blew the voters off. When he took office, the state's fiscal condition was OK, and when he left it was no better. There might have been a massive structural mismatch between its revenue stream and the services voters demanded, but it was far worse at the end of his term.

Warner fixed nothing: at the end of his term Virginia's road system was in the worst shape since 1932, critical Northern Virginia infrastructure had been ignored, and the state university system was left in the lurch, raising tuition steeply. Warner did it all this while breaking his campaign promises to hold taxes, instead raising them to historic highs.

Warners legacy is that the Left believes the excement that Stuntz spewed. Warner lied to the people when he repeatedly promised to hold the line on taxes. Warner lied to the legislature when he cooked the state's budget books, "missing by error" over 17% of the actual revenue stream. Warners legacy to the environment and conservation was the single worst corruption case in the state's history, from which we have still not recovered.

When a person (Stuntx) makes statements predicated in large part by praising Governor Warner, it is --at best-- simply false.
8.30.2008 3:57pm
Colin (mail):
Regardless of my agreement (or disagreement) with Prof. Stuntz' views, I can't recommend enough reading his work, including this one. His class(es) was/(were) the most enlightening of those I attended....

I second this sentiment. His culture- and theology-oriented writing often leaves me cold, but as a teacher, Stuntz is without equal on the HLS faculty. Really an excellent professor.
8.30.2008 5:47pm
Math_Mage (mail) (www):
That's good too. Just one small difference. The campaign Obama's running is staffed (paid and volunteer) with four times as many people as the entire population of Alaska.

But you guys should keep telling yourselves that the smooth, successful running of an operation that size says nothing about the executive skills of the guy at the top.


Way to quote me selectively. Yes, Obama's experience campaigning is superior to Palin's (not to belittle winning against an incumbent from your own party, as Palin did), but Obama's on-the-job experience is far less (as I noted and you ignored). As a State Senator his record is marked far more by "present" votes than serious accomplishments, and as a National Senator he has spent maybe a year on the job and more than twice as much campaigning. Obama's biggest accomplishment on the campaign trail is keeping his supporters from noticing how little substantive achievement stands behind the calls of "yes, we can." Meanwhile Palin has been rooting out corruption in Alaskan government (even when the corruption lies with people more senior than her), negotiating deals with the Canadian government, and by and large doing her job - something that Obama seems to have been avoiding all his political career.

And Karl Rove says Kaine isn't experienced enough; that choosing Kaine would be a sign that political considerations trumped the national interest (paraphrasing, of course).


That's because Obama and Kaine combined would have less experience than McCain alone. McCain has the luxury of picking a less experienced VP because he has experience (though he did shore up a lack in picking someone with some executive experience); Obama did not have that luxury, which is why he picked a 35-year Beltway insider like Biden. Still, experience at the top of the ticket counts for a lot more than experience at the bottom; Obama attacking Palin for inexperience only highlights that.

In short: Palin's accomplishments are a little thin for a potential VP. Obama's accomplishments are very thin for a potential President. When it comes to experience, the Democrats still lose.
8.30.2008 6:16pm
MarkField (mail):

That's because Obama and Kaine combined would have less experience than McCain alone.


That's a nice try at spin, but that's not what Rove was saying. He referred to Kaine alone, not in combination with Obama.
8.30.2008 6:21pm
Math_Mage (mail) (www):
That's a nice try at spin, but that's not what Rove was saying. He referred to Kaine alone, not in combination with Obama.


Ah, I see, I looked up the relevant article. Frankly, I think Rove makes a bit of an ass of himself there. Since when was the choice of a VP NOT political? Since when are "able" though "undistinguished" governors unqualified?

So I will concede the point that conservatives expressed doubts about Kaine's experience, and that similar doubts may be cast on Palin's experience for VP. But to me, the reason why Kaine's inexperience would have been a problem would be because Obama has nothing to make up for it. Palin's inexperience is less problematic because McCain complements her with his 24 years as Senate maverick. Even if Karl Rove fails to put the matter in the context of the current Presidential candidates, that doesn't mean we should do the same.
8.30.2008 6:46pm
MarkField (mail):

But to me, the reason why Kaine's inexperience would have been a problem would be because Obama has nothing to make up for it. Palin's inexperience is less problematic because McCain complements her with his 24 years as Senate maverick. Even if Karl Rove fails to put the matter in the context of the current Presidential candidates, that doesn't mean we should do the same.


Your point is fair, but only within limits. One reason to pick a VP is that the president might not survive his term. McCain's 72 years old and has a history of poor health. In this context, it makes a lot of sense to consider Palin on her own merits and not just in conjunction with his.
8.30.2008 7:35pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

Obama and Kaine combined would have less experience than McCain alone.

Senatorial experience is logarithmic, not linear. After a while you're as effective as you're going to get.
8.30.2008 8:07pm
Math_Mage (mail) (www):
Your point is fair, but only within limits. One reason to pick a VP is that the president might not survive his term. McCain's 72 years old and has a history of poor health. In this context, it makes a lot of sense to consider Palin on her own merits and not just in conjunction with his.


If McCain dies, it most likely wouldn't be until Palin's had a couple of years to figure out the ins and outs of the national/world scene. By contrast, Obama is 100% guaranteed to have no extra time to gain more experience before getting the job, if he wins. And his experience is comparable with Palin's - whether one thinks it's a little more or a little less is frankly irrelevant. If Palin is debatably risky as VP, he is manifestly unready for the Presidency.
8.30.2008 8:08pm
Math_Mage (mail) (www):
Senatorial experience is logarithmic, not linear. After a while you're as effective as you're going to get.


Yet log(2) + log(3) < log(24) by a large margin, sticking strictly to time spent in major office (I count Obama as 2 years because he's spent the last 2 running for President rather than being a Senator). Don't forget to factor in that the experience of the Presidential candidates counts for more than the Veep candidates (by weighting the average), which means that even Biden's 35 years don't push Obama/Biden over McCain/Palin, mathematically speaking.
8.30.2008 8:16pm
MarkField (mail):

If McCain dies, it most likely wouldn't be until Palin's had a couple of years to figure out the ins and outs of the national/world scene.


Ok, but by that logic we'd never need to worry about experience in a VP pick at all. Might as well pick me.
8.30.2008 8:52pm
The Ace (mail):
Saying that Alaska "borders Russia by water" is like saying that California borders Japan by water.

Saying that Japan borders California by water while implying it is the same distance from Russia to Alaska demonstrates you're an imbecile.
8.30.2008 8:54pm
The Ace (mail):
As states go, Alaska is tiny--it's about the size of Fort Worth.

Um, the slice of land that is going to be drilled for oil in ANWR is bigger than Fort Worth.

Imbecile.
8.30.2008 8:56pm
loki13 (mail):
The Ace,

Before you start calling people imbeciles, please check your population sizes. Austin is larger (in population) than Alaska, as is Columbus. Ft. Worth matches it almost exactly.
8.30.2008 9:54pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
lindgren:

one who tasered a child just to see her squirm


I wonder where on earth you got the idea that Wooten did that. First of all, the person Tased was a male. And he volunteered to be Tased, out of curiosity (pdf):

Payton advised that a year or two ago Mike Wooten had tased him … he [Payton] was in the living room when Mike was showing him and his cousin, Bristol his equipment. He stated that Mike asked him if he wanted to try it (the Taser) and he agreed. … Payton stated that he wanted to be tased to show that he's not a mommy's boy in front of Bristol. Following being tased he went upstairs to tell his mother that he was fine.


(Emphasis added.) Payton, Wooten's stepson who was Tased, was 11 at the time. Bristol is Payton's cousin, Sarah's daughter. Bristol was 14 at the time. Besides Wooten and Payton, she is the only eyewitness. Upstairs listening was Molly. Molly is the mother of Payton, and the sister of Sarah, and (at the time) the wife of Wooten. This is what Bristol said:

Molly was bathing the two kids up stairs. Payton and her [Bristol] were looking at items on Mike's belt. When they asked about the Taser Mike advised that it shocks and asked them if they wanted to try it. ,Payton agreed to try the taser. … Bristol stated that Payton volunteered to be tased, and that Mike had offered to see if she wanted to try also. Bristol refused stating that she was scared.

Bristol was asked why she waited so long and brought the incident up after two years. She then stated "because of the divorce and stuff."


This is what Wooten said:

Wooten stated he had just returned home from Taser instructor school, and that Payton was fascinated with his equipment. Wooten … showed Payton the Taser and what it does. … Payton was riding him about being tased and wanted to try it.

Wooten stated that he used a training cartridge and taped the probes to Payton. He then placed him on his knees and gave him a quick shock and believed it lasted a second at the most. Wooten stated that Paytong is an adrenaline junky, and that he was bragging about it to his buddies when they would come over to his house. Wooten advised that he didn't think it hurt Payton and that Payton wanted to do it again.

Wooten stated that Payton is extremely interested in law enforcement. He also advised that he was a father teaching his son. Wooten advised that Molly was up stairs during the Taser incident and knew what he was doing. Wooten said Molly didn't have a problem with it, however didn't want him to do it again.


This is what Molly said:

she was up stairs giving a bath to the kids … Mike was going to show Payton what it feels like and she told Mike that he better not … Mile then tased Payton … Payton was shook up … Bristol was really upset … Mile thought that she was totally overreacting to the event … Payton didn't cry but was upset.


It should be noted that Sarah wrote (pdf) that Molly "aggressively protested during the Taser gun incident." But by all accounts, Molly never interrupted what she was doing (giving kids a bath) to go downstairs. By Molly's own account, she simply "told Mike that he better not." Apparently yelling this down the stairs, while continuing to give kids a bath. This is what Sarah called "aggressively protested."

Some info about what happens during a Taser demo (because that's essentially what it was):

The probes are attached by thin wires to the Taser cartridge. In the field, an officer fires the probes into a suspect's skin or clothing and the suspect receives a jolt of electricity for five seconds, said Steve Tuttle, a spokesman for Taser International, which makes the devices. They are only incapacitated during that time. In demos, the probes might be taped to a person so that they don't accidentally strike an eye or injure the volunteer, he said. If the Taser is fired for just a second, it would feel like your funny bone was hit but the quick jolt wouldn't knock you over, Tuttle said.


The above police interviews took place in 6/05. The Taser incident apparently took place in 2003. Molly and Wooten became separated in 1/05. Molly filed for divorce in 4/05. It should be noted that no one made a fuss about the Taser incident until the marriage started falling apart. Just like Bristol said.

What we have here is a governor abusing power to take retribution on behalf of her sister, in the aftermath of an extremely messy divorce. If the press covers this with any diligence, Palin is headed for oblivion. As Mahan said, "it's isn't the crime, it's the cover-up." But I don't think the press is going to cover this properly.

Few governors who pretended to be ethical would think they could get away with pressuring someone to fire someone unless there was a REASON, even if it were only a pretext


Sarah was lined up with her sister in a crusade against Wooten starting in 2005. She continued that crusade from the governor's office. Dumping Monegan was just one more step in that crusade.

Sarah thought she "could get away with pressuring someone to fire someone" not because there was ever a good reason behind the whole thing. She simply thought she wasn't going to get caught. One of the things she did not anticipate is that an important phone call was taped (video, video).

Without giving the reason, you are misleading people.


Here's a good example of "misleading people:" saying that Wooten "tasered a child just to see her squirm."
8.30.2008 10:27pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
jg:

what if she knew that the trooper had beaten her sister


No one has claimed "that the trooper had beaten her sister." At best, there are vague and unsubstantiated claims that he shoved her once or twice. There were definitely no injuries.

she had personal knowledge of his malfeasance


This statement is highly ironic. When you look closely at Sarah's statements from 2005, virtually all her accusations against Wooten were strictly hearsay, mostly via Molly, her sister.

But if she demands that he be fired, and when he isn't


The complaints Sarah and Molly made against Wooten in 2005 were thoroughly investigated. At least 15 people were interviewed. Wooten ended up with a 5-day suspension, which he earned (that was an appropriate penalty for the Taser incident, and some other dumb things he did). But most of the accusations they made were found to be unsubstantiated. Now that she's running the state, she figures that doesn't matter, and she can continue to go after him, despite that.

This whole story seems like the kind of thing that sounds bad when you first hear about it, but then sounds like nothing once you get more facts.


The story "sounds bad when you first hear about it," and then gets extremely bad when you actually learn about the details. Something you obviously have not done.
8.30.2008 10:27pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
nieporent:

what cover up?


Claiming that she didn't try to get Wooten fired when in fact she did. There were literally dozens of conversations where pressure was applied to get Wooten fired.

She started the investigation


Not exactly. She started her own investigation only after it was clear that a real investigation was inevitable:

Monegan has testified to this fact [that he was pressured], spurring an ongoing investigation by the Alaska state legislature.  But, before this investigation got underway, Palin sent the Alaska State Attorney General out to do some investigative work of his own so she could find out in advance what the real investigation was going to find.  … The AG interviewed several people, unbeknownst to the actual appointed investigator or the Legislature! Palin’s investigation of herself uncovered a recorded phone call retained by the Alaska State Troopers from Frank Bailey, a Palin underling, putting pressure on a trooper about the Wooten non-firing.  Todd Palin (governor’s husband) even talked to Monegan himself in Palin’s office while she was away.  Bailey is now on paid administrative leave.


And Bailey said he wasn't acting on behalf of his boss. Yeah, right.

when it was found that her staffer had done so, she brought it forth


Yes, she spoke up about the tape because she had no choice. The real investigation was going to find it.

That's the opposite of a cover up.


Uh, no. It's someone who's been engaging in a coverup and is now trying hard to pretend there was never anything to coverup. Despite the growing mountain of evidence which proves otherwise.
8.30.2008 10:27pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Oh yeah. How could I forgot. This part is the icing on the cake (pdf):

It is my pleasure to provide character reference examples for Mr. Mike Wooten. Since I have become acquainted with Mike I continue to be impressed with his integrity, work ethic, community spirit and trustworthiness.

Mike has assisted the City of Wasilla with community events … Mike is a strong supporter of the youth in our community … Mike gained respect for his patience and dedication to the young men in his care [coaching football, age 7-9] …

… I have witnessed Mike's gift of calm and kindness towards many young kids … I have never seen him raise his voice, nor lose patience, nor become aggitated [sic] in the presence of any child. Instead, Mike consistently remains a fine role model for my own children, and the other young people in Wasilla. I wish America had more people with the grace and sincerity that mirrors the character of Mike Wooten … we would have a much kinder, calmer, trustworthy nation as a result.

I beleive [sic] the United States Air Force has been fortunate to have the services of Mike these past 10 years. His work ethic, his American patriotism, his obvious dedication to traditional values, and his strong faith in God and truth is witnessed in Mike's everyday living.

It is an honor to know Mike and I am confident he will continue to grow in character and internal strength as he moves through life. I do not hesitate in praising this man …


You'll never guess who wrote that.

At the very, very least, Sarah Palin has to admit that she is a stunningly bad judge of character.
8.30.2008 10:39pm