Front and center, no level or amount of prior “experience” doing anything can prepare someone for the job of President of the United States. That is, unless, like Theodore Roosevelt, that person had previously been President of the United States. And even then, the dynamics of minute-by-minute international and domestic and economic and meteorological changes make the job a new one every day. Not counting the current President Bush, where no lessons were ever learned, what was learned the previous day might not be helpful for the situations that get laid upon the Oval Office desk for the new day.
But some experience is clearly superior to other experience.
My worst out-of-body terror, that John McCain gets elected president, has suddenly been replaced by one even more terrifying to imagine: Something happens to the 72-year-old, cancer surviving McCain and Vice-President Palin assumes control of the mighty array of executive levers.
With one eye firmly closed, let’s take a look at Sarah Palin’s résumé. (Not her satin nightgown photograph in Vogue, her résumé!) In 1982, on the Wasilla High women’s basketball team, Sarah Heath hit a critical free-throw in the last seconds to help the team win the Alaska small school championship. Following that, she went on to win the Wasilla beauty pageant, where she played the flute and was named Miss Congeniality. That triumph paved the way for her to enter the Miss Alaska beauty pageant, where she finished second. Wasilla, by the way, had a population of less than 3,000 in 1982. (I am informed that neither polar bears nor walruses competed in either event.)
Palin majored in Political Science at the University of Idaho, then went on to be a sports reporter for newspapers in the Wasilla area. Following this, Ms. Pallin served two terms on the Wasilla Town Council. The numerous Murkowski scandals in 2006 opened the door for the ex-Wasilla councilwoman to successfully run for the governor’s chair. Ms. Palin has been the governor of Alaska since December 4, 2006, one year, nine months and counting!
Wasilla is a suburb of Anchorage, a “city” (?) of 283,000. With no slight to Anchorage intended, the notion that being a sports reporter for newspapers in that area, as much as being a sports reporter anywhere might prepare one for political office, just is not the same as learning the labyrinthine maze of ins and outs and trials and tribulations typical of real urban areas. Being “mayor” of a town of such an insignificantly-sized population just is not the same as being mayor of Chicago, or Miami, or Oakland.
To me, Alaska is a state only legally. It’s more a vast territory similar to Canada’s Yukon. Filled with the most dramatic beauty, yes...but, c’mon, the governor of Alaska doesn’t deal with any of the terrible problems facing the governors of any of the lower 48 states. For one, as a product of the oil pipeline, Alaska has something called the PFD (Permanent Fund Dividend) which pays every man, woman, and child approximately $1,500 every year. That means a family of four can count on receiving $6,000 in addition to whatever other moneys they earn or receive. The state enjoys a $40 billion surplus. (No! I don’t think you read that closely enough: $40 BILLION SURPLUS) So, being governor of Alaska, even if one had been in the office a decade or more, rather than 21 months, would not avail the office-holder of real governing difficulties. Pick a state, any state, then compare. Get real!!!
Now try to imagine my terror. It’s 2010 and President John McCain is now 74. In a pique, Iran has closed the Persian Gulf. Oil prices soar to $200 per barrel. The international scene erupts in chaos, as populations rise up in reaction to the scarce necessities of life that are priced beyond their reach. Russia, awash in gas and oil revenues vetoes the UN resolution against Iran. As a consequence of the pressure, perhaps it’s just age, but President McCain suffers a disabling stroke, or a fatal heart attack, and the beautiful mayor of Wasilla, Alaska strolls into the Oval Office, to advise the nation of the most recent sports scores.
— Ed Tubbs