September 28, 2008

Do how does Sarah Palin stack up against History?

When Sarah "Bible Spice" Palin was interviewed by Charles Gibson a few days ago, she was asked if she had ever met a foreign dignitary. For once, she was refreshingly honest. "No. But I think that's normal." She then claimed that if we bothered to examine the careers of former vice presidents, we'd find that most had little or no exposure to either foreign dignitaries or federal service.

Fortunately, Lawrence Lessig as already done the research in answer to this question. He found that in fact, almost all Vice Presidents of the United States had backgrounds in either foreign relations or federal service, or both. And furthermore, only two Vice Presidents were comparable to Palin (or Palin is only comparable to those two), and one of them had been a governer slightly longer.

That was Spiro Agnew, who had been governor of Maryland before becoming VP for President Richard M. Nixon. Of course, he did not complete his term. He resigned and pleaded nolo contendre to charges of tax evasion and money laundering.

By the way, did you know that Sarah Palin collected "per diems" of over $17,000 dollars from the state of Alaska as its Governor? For those of you who have never had an expense account, a 'per diem' is a fee you are paid while you are travelling on behalf of your business. Palin, however, collected her per diems when she went home.

There was one Vice President that had less experience in government than "Bible Spice". That honor goes to Republican Chester A. Arthur, who prior to his appointment to VP had served as Collector of Customs for the Port of New York. On the other hand, he had more military background; he served as Quartermaster General for the state of Vermont during the Civil War. And back then, States really did run their militia, unlike today's National Guard. He also studied law and was admitted to the bar, and fought cases protecting Civil Liberties - pretty rare before the Civil War. It's not as prestigious as being second-runner-up in a pageant no one remembers, or as glamorous as being a TV weather girl on a local station, but it has its own cach├ęt.

Arthur, it should be noted, ascended to the Presidency with the assasination of President James Garfield, one of the nine out of forty-six Vice Presidents to step into the position of President. That means that 20% of Vice Presidents have become Presidents through the loss of a President.

Palin stands to be the least experienced Vice President in the entire history of the United States for the oldest President in history of the United States; a cancer survivor with a medical file three inches thick.

How does the "hockey mom" with a "great rack" stack up? Not well. Not well at all.


  1. "Bible Spice"

    oh, that's classic!!

  2. Credit where it's due: I got it from Rick at the South Florida Daily Blog.