Are You Kidding Me?
I expected that today’s reaction from Republican’s defending Palin was going to be absurd, but it’s shocked even me in the level of desperation it reveals. This is how Charlie Black, McCain’s former chief strategist, defended her to the New York Times:
“She’s going to learn national security at the foot of the master for the next four years, and most doctors think that he’ll be around at least that long,” said Charlie Black, one of Mr. McCain’s top advisers, making light of concerns about Mr. McCain’s health, which Mr. McCain’s doctors reported as excellent in May.
So let me get this straight, she’s definitely not ready yet, but that doesn’t matter because we can be sure that nothing is going to happen to the 72 year old man in the next 4 years, so she won’t have to step into the Presidency?
Even the right-wing blogosphere didn’t go that far, as illustrated most hilariously by Noah Millman:
I realize, of course, that she’s totally unqualified to be President at this point in time. If McCain were to die in February 2009, I hope Palin would have the good sense to appoint someone who is more ready to be President to be her Vice President, on the understanding that she would then resign and be appointed Vice President by her successor.
Putting aside the fact that I’m supposed to believe that a professional politician is unscrupulous enough to hand over the Presidency rather than, you know, be President of the United States, on a more fundamental level succession is the only job of the Vice-President. Yes we have fleshed it out a bit and they’re now often close advisers, surrogates, and managers for the President, but Constitutionally, which is to say officially, speaking they’re only formal power/responsibility is to assume the Presidency in the event the President is somehow incapacitated. So Millman’s argument is that the Republican nominee for Vice-President of the United States should in no circumstances be allowed to carry out the only official function of the office.
That about sums up modern conservatism in a nutshell doesn’t it?
And just as an aside, Millman’s understanding of government leaves something to be desired as well. Yes, in the event McCain were to die in office (or resign I suppose), Palin would get to appoint a Vice-President, who she could then abdicate the Presidency to. But that person would have to be confirmed by the (presumably Democratic) Senate. Also, in the event President McCain found himself incapacitated, but alive, this scenario wouldn’t be able to play itself out. Palin would obviously step in as acting President, but no Vice-President would be named, and McCain would reclaim the office upon regaining his health. In this scenario, if Palin abdicated, the next in line, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, would assume the role of acting President, and then the office itself in the event the President were to die. Somehow I find myself douting that Palin would oblige this scenario, and even more unlikely that Noah Millman would be encouraging her to do so.