Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska and now Senator John McCain's pick as his Veep, has been undergoing the usual media anal exam, which is a singularly unpleasant if accurate metaphor to use for the highly partisan examinations of the new candidate's qualifications.
Of course, no Democrat finds her qualified (with the possible exception of Hillary Clinton), no Republican has any problem with here (except if the Republican in question thought he was about to get the nod), and the media doesn't know what the hell to do with her except criticize her career aspirations as causing her potentially to neglect her children (thanks, John Roberts).
What this all overlooks is the non-partisan fact that none of the four individuals running is actually even remotely qualified to be President of the United States.
That's the disgusting true story of the election of 2008.
We have three Senators running--members of the only governmental organization with a lower approval rating that the current Presidential incompetent (or did I mean "incumbent"?; nah, just leave it).
In fact, that's pretty much the only way a Senator can get to be President of the United States, unless he runs as Veep and is lucky enough (Harry Truman, LBJ) to succeed a dead boss into office. JFK is the exception that proves the rule: he only beat the most unpopular sitting Veep in two decades by the skin of his ass and several thousand Chicago voters extending their pallid hands from their coffins to vote for him.
Senators who lost: Barry Goldwater, Hubert Humphrey, George McGovern, [former Senator], Ted Kennedy [in the primaries] Walter Mondale, Bob Dole, [former Senator] Al Gore, John Kerry. Particularly the Democrats have this tendency to become befuddled by Senators, nominate them, and then lose with them.
On the other hand, former Governors do quite well: Jimmie Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Dubya. In fact, the only real losers as governors have been Carter in his second election (and it was a damn sight closer than most people today recall) and Michael Dukakis (who appears to have been a good governor, but not even that could overcome that stupid photo in the tank, and that painful answer about his wife being raped).
In fact, over the past 4-5 decades, former Governors have, with only Carter as an exception, gone on to become two-term Presidents. Why?
One reason is that governors actually have a tangible record of what they could and did accomplish in an Executive position. Senators have a record of posture and nuance, of deals made and bargains struck. And they don't actually run anything more than a committee or two.
Now back to our four unqualified candidates (and remember, please, I'm an equal opportunity despiser, because I'm not voting for any of them):
In order of experiential seniority:
Senator Joe Biden--despite the fact that I disagree with his perspective--probably has legitimate claim to the foreign policy knowledge necessary to be Secretary of State, but not President. Why do I say that? Joe has the knowledge to carry out a plan, but not the insight necessary to develop one. It was Joe Biden who wanted to send a few billion dollars to Iran right after September 11, Joe Biden who wanted to balkanize Iraq into three countries [hint; if it was not a justified invasion, Joe, then where's our mandate for carving up the country in bold defiance of UN positions?], and Joe Biden who wanted our soldiers, SEALs, and Marines committed in a bloody, long-lasting war of attrition in the mountains of Afghanistan.
On the domestic front, Joe Biden does not bring any whit of moderation or balance to the Executive Branch, being consistently rated (depending on who is doing the rating) as one of the top five most Liberal Senators (along with Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, and Russ Feingold [holding the Paul Wellstone Chair]). He is far enough to the Left that he will have tremendous problems--just like his boss--in working with centrist Democrats.
And he has exactly zip zero nada Executive experience either in the public or private sectors.
But his teeth have been bonded.
Senator John McCain (who is actually junior to Biden) can claim to have been a Wing Commander in the US Navy; unfortunately, that was over 35 years ago. His grasp of foreign affairs is as shaky as his willingness to use force unilaterally is firm. He has no Executive experience in government or the private sector.
Governor Sarah Palin (you could flip a coin for her and Barack to settle last place) at least has been a Governor for about as long as Barack Obama has been a Senator. Unfortunately, where libertarian-leaning Republicans see a small government enthusiast, I see a pure social conservative. How does she do under fire? Who the hell knows>
Senator Barack Obama has no foreign policy experience, no Executive experience, and--despite the ardent claims of his backers--no legislative record to speak of. He has charisma, the usual set of faceless corporate Democratic backers, and--as Hillary Clinton says--"a speech he gave in 2002."
It is a sign of our desperation that millions of people are seriously considering entrusting the leadership of the most powerful nation on Earth either to a man with a good speech and no experience, or a man with 35-years' membership in the world's most well-publicized debating societies.
Irony: we had Governors on both sides with plenty of experience: Bill Richardson, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee--and yet the voters rejected them.
The real story of Election 2008 is that there are no well-qualified candidates running for President.
[And, no, Waldo, don't hand me the Abraham Lincoln/James Buchanan example, again. Even the complexities of the Civil War are not a valid comparison with today's world. I realize that any one of these four could abruptly blossom into the Greatest Leader of Recent Memory--it has happened before--but I really hate to have to count on that.]
Here's the real rub: if the presidential candidates are cyphers--and to a large extent I think the top two are moreso than their Veeps--then what we should be looking for is the shadowy people in the background.
Who are (surprise, surprise) the same people on both sides who have been there for the past three decades.
You might as well vote based on whether you want to elect the first woman or the first African-American to national office, because there really isn't a rational reason otherwise to support any of them....