With all the talk about the political functions of a Vice Presidential pick for both the Obama and McCain campaigns, it is important to recall the qualities necessary in a Vice President under the United States Constitution. By that standard, a Vice President must be a person who can, at a moment’s notice, assume the responsibilities and duties of the President of the United States. When Barack Obama chose Joe Biden as his Vice Presidential candidate, there may have been some questions about the political benefits or drawbacks amongst both Democrats and Republicans. However, observers on all sides agreed that this was a man with the knowledge and experience to be Commander in Chief in the event of an emergency.
Today, John McCain chose a Vice Presidential Candidate with less experience than any in American history. Sarah Palin, a 44 year old former mayor of an Alaskan town with less than 9,000 citizens, has been governor of her state for less than two years. She has no foreign policy experience and no national leadership experience. John McCain’s political motives for the choice are embarrassingly transparent. By choosing a woman, McCain hopes to “stir up” the race, to remind people of his old “Maverick” label and to attract disaffected Hillary supporters to his side.
Unfortunately for McCain, what his choice does more than anything else is defeat his primary argument against Barack Obama. For months, McCain has argued that voters should reject Obama because he does not have the experience to be President. As recently as last night, his campaign was still advancing this argument in response to Barack Obama’s historic and principled speech at the DNC. Yet the very next day, McCain chose a Vice Presidential candidate three year’s younger than and with far less experience than his opponent. By choosing Palin, McCain has signaled that years in office are not a requirement to serve as President of the United States. As a 72 year old with years of health problems, he of all people should be acutely aware that this woman would be only a heartbeat away from the presidency. His choice may be politically expedient, but it is also hypocritical. It is another example of a growing pattern of dishonesty and deception from the McCain campaign, which has proven that it is willing to say and do anything to keep Barack Obama out of the White House. John McCain has just made a desperate choice, and it is my belief that it will likely come back to haunt him in the end.