[Opinion] – Palin is too green for VP

Choosing a running mate is, in a manner of speaking, the first truly presidential decision a candidate makes. ItâÄôs a glimpse into how they view government and their role in it âÄî how they intend to manage the vast bureaucracy. The running mates themselves perhaps do not matter all that much: itâÄôs what they say about the candidates that should draw attention. And in this case, Barack Obama and John McCain have given us quite a contrast. The vice presidentâÄôs duties are sparse. It doesnâÄôt seem like there will be too many ties in the Senate after the Democrats expand their majority this November, so the only important part of the job left is the simplest: Be ready to be president if necessary. Whatever you may think of Sen. Joe Biden, itâÄôs obvious that, if necessary, heâÄôs well-prepared to take over the duties of the president. With his choice, Obama ignored vapid political concerns (Who will help me carry an extra state? Can someone shore up the Hillary voters?) and instead had the good sense to pick someone capable of doing the job. Biden will be a governing asset as vice president, and heâÄôs fully qualified to assume the Big Chair if need be. For Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin âĦ not so much. ItâÄôs no secret that sheâÄôs deeply unqualified to hold such a high office. SheâÄôs been governor of a sparsely populated state for all of two years, and she previously spent some time as a small-town mayor. Her only foreign policy experience is âĦ well, Alaska is pretty close to Russia, I suppose. She claims to be carrying on the mantle of Hillary Clinton and Geraldine Ferraro while taking positions on womenâÄôs issues that couldnâÄôt be further from their views. (This little tactic got Palin booed on stage while campaigning on Saturday.) SheâÄôs part of a fringe anti-abortion group called (laughably) âÄúFeminists for Life,âÄù and she doesnâÄôt think global warming has anything to do with human actions âÄî a position that even McCain disagrees with. Even McCainâÄôs adviser Charlie Black admits that Palin is deeply unqualified, but justifies the pick by saying she will be learning âÄúat the foot of the master for the next four years, and most doctors think that heâÄôll be around at least that long.âÄù Apparently, thatâÄôs supposed to make us feel better. But, again, what really matters here isnâÄôt the fact that Palin should never be vice president. ItâÄôs the fact that McCain was willing to pick someone so totally unqualified. Lyda Green, an Alaska state senator and fellow Republican from Wasilla, where Palin served as mayor, had this to say: âÄúSheâÄôs not prepared to be governor. How can she be prepared to be vice president or president? âĦ What would she do to the nation?âÄù Perhaps McCain thinks he is going to live forever. But as a 72-year-old with two cases of cancer in his past, one has to admit that his chances of not serving a full term are higher than most candidates. But instead of taking on some responsible leadership and choosing a competent running mate, McCain decided to attempt some base-level pandering. If being a âÄúmaverickâÄù means making blatantly irresponsible choices, perhaps we should look in another direction for president. PalinâÄôs hard-line conservatism will surely help McCain assuage the fears of worried right-wingers, but McCain seems to have not given his choice any more thought than that. Reports have surfaced saying that Palin and McCain spoke, at the most, twice in their lives before the senator made his choice. Nobody bothered to contact her local paper for their archival coverage, a seemingly basic step. McCainâÄôs advance team apparently never even made the trip out to Alaska to check up on her. Perhaps then they would have heard about the abuse-of-power charges sheâÄôs facing. She allegedly fired the public safety commissioner because he refused to fire her ex-brother in-law, who is a state trooper and is embroiled in a rather nasty custody battle with PalinâÄôs sister. Palin has barely been on the job for two years, and sheâÄôs already facing serious corruption charges. That doesnâÄôt do much to inspire confidence in McCainâÄôs leadership. Even if McCain desperately wanted to choose a female candidate to appeal to ex-Hillary Clinton supporters, there were many more qualified candidates: Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Connecticut Gov. Jodi Rell, or either senator from Maine. Settling on Palin was bizarre, baffling and a bit unnerving. If weâÄôre lucky, sheâÄôll never have to handle any important duties. But the fact that McCain is willing to take that risk for naked political posturing should give us all some pause. John Sharkey welcomes comments at [email protected]