The Top of The Ticket


Back in 2000, John McCain described the two major tasks of a vice-president: Every day, he has to check on the president’s health, and he must make himself available to preside over ceremonies. Not too appealing. A former vice-president who served with FDR, John Nance Garner, said the job of vice-president is not worth more “than a bucket of spit.” Not too important, we can assume. Clearly, very few people yearn for the office of the vice-president. However, being vice-president in this day and age is much different than what McCain and Garner described. From Walter Mondale (1977 – 1980) to Dick Cheney (2001 – 2009) the power of the vice-presidency has increased significantly. One third of vice-presidents have gone on to become president. This is not an insignificant statistic. So the choices of Joe Biden and Sarah Palin clearly merits all the attention it has gotten.

The choice of Biden added what was missing in the Obama candidacy: foreign relations experience. It is obvious that, in a time of crisis, Obama’s vision and intelligence combined with Biden’s knowledge and experience would come across as very reassuring. As I said in an earlier post, Biden brought gravitas to the Obama ticket, while the choice of Palin—a far more controversial one—has transformed the current race into one about change and the kind of change America needs and wants. She adds a sense of newness that was sorely missing from McCain’s lacklustre campaign. The jury, however, is still out on Palin because, outside of her glamour and her ability to deliver a speech, we know very little about her, except what comes to us through anecdotal evidence.

This election is as close as it gets. And, until the debate season begins on September 26, it is likely to remain that way—with many undecided voters, and soft support from a significant portion of those who have made up their minds. The Obama–Biden ticket represents a definite shift in policy and direction for the United States. Though the McCain–Palin ticket is an attempt to deflect attention from the record of the Bush–Cheney administration, when we look closely at what their campaign is proposing, we see very little difference in how the economy will be handled, how health care will be delivered to over 45 million uninsured Americans, how America will handle the existing wars and future diplomacy. If America’s happy with the course of the last 8 years, then the choice is obvious: McCain-Palin.

But over 80% of Americans are not happy with the course their country has taken in the past 8 years. They want change and they want more than cosmetic change. The hubub over vice-presidential picks over the past three weeks has been a side show. The real choice comes down to who America believes should be the next president, Obama or McCain. The Obama campaign must not lose sight of this, because picking the next president is far more important than knowing a “hockey mom” wears lipstick!


The Top of The Ticket

  1. Sometimes you are a bit too biased for my taste. This is one of those times. McCain-Palin are not proposing the same things as Bush-Cheney. If you are going to use this blog for campaigning rather than providing intelligent insight I can only hope they stop giving you space.
    Sorry to be so scathing.

  2. I’d say they’re offering the same, with a few slight changes to make it look like they’re ‘new’.

    But the reason I was posting was you got the Garner quote wrong. The actual quote was “not worth a bucket of warm piss.” The term was softened for decades by the media, so they could get away with printing it. I think we’re at a maturity level these days that we can handle a mildly ‘bad’ word.

  3. Peter:

    I recall having breakfast with relatives from the U.S. in 2002. I asked them what they thought of Janet Reno running for Florida Governor. All three looked at me blankly and asked who Janet Reno was?

    We in Canada are fortunate in the ways we get our news because we can form opinions from the outside looking in — and I suppose we are less subjective in judging the merits of any U.S. political stance.

    Long and short of it? Eighty percent of Americans ARE unhappy with the direction of their country — and the BBC released a poll today showing that more than 80% of 25,000 people globally would prefer the Obama-Biden ticket. The past eight years HAS been a disaster, not just for the U.S. the carelessness of their neo-conservative government has affected the globe.

    But McCain-Palin will probably be elected.

    What does that say about democracy in America?

  4. “What does that say about democracy in America?”

    People who live in America get to vote for their leaders and the people who live elsewhere don’t. I would say that’s a feature, not a bug.

  5. jwl:

    “People who live in America get to vote for their leaders and the people who live elsewhere don’t. I would say that’s a feature, not a bug.”

    I agree 100%.

    Just askin’ “What’s the matter with Kansas?” when so many citizens seem uninformed and vote based on the kind of gotcha politics we’re seeing play out down there (and now becoming pervasive here in Canada, too).

    I kinda saddened, really, that sane discussion about the kind of future we want has degraded into a schoolyard spitting contest.

  6. If both tickets consist of a wise Washington veteran and a charismatic-but-green rookie sensation, doesn’t it make more sense to put the experienced one at the top of the ticket, and let the rookie act as an understudy/apprentice for the next 4-8 years?

    (BTW, with the best doctors on the planet looking after him, I fully expect McCain to live at least one full term.)

  7. Mike

    Sorry, I shouldn’t have been so glib but I know a few people who seriously think there should be a worldwide referendum on who should be US president.

    I, too, wish there was more focus on real policies but the vast majority of people don’t seem to care and base their decisions on who comes across the best in 10 second clips on the nightly news. I now think of elections as a night at the theatre, all sound/fury and smoke/mirrors, it’s great entertainment.

    Steve M

    You would think when Obama supporters write something like, “The jury, however, is still out on Palin because, outside of her glamour and her ability to deliver a speech, we know very little about her, except what comes to us through anecdotal evidence”, that they might question their support for Obama as President but they don’t seem to.

    I think there are a world of similarities between Obama and Palin and neither one of them should be at the wheel for the moment but only one party seems to recognize that.

  8. “I think there are a world of similarities between Obama and Palin and neither one of them should be at the wheel for the moment but only one party seems to recognize that.”

    Yup, there are huge similarities between the president of the Harvard Law Review and someone who dropped out of 5 colleges before eking out a journalism degree at U of Idaho. The disingenuousness coming from the Republicans is starting to enter “you can’t be serious” territory.

  9. Gentry,

    So a rookie-as-President is perfectly capable of handling the a crisis that doesn’t involve his/her own death (Oklahoma bombing, 9/11, Katrina, etc.)?

  10. Gentry

    William Buckley said:

    “I’d rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University.”

    And many of us agree with that sentiment.

    BTW, you hear: What’s the difference between a pit bull and a hockey mom? A hockey mom actually frightens Barry Obama.

  11. LOL, coming from a man who went to Yale that’s hardly a surprise. I wonder what he would have thought of the U of Idaho faculty running the country though? What about Hawaii Pacific College? Perhaps North Idaho College would have been more to his taste?

  12. Peter:

    Not sure anything said in this blog is biased. Though I did not agree with the choice of Biden, I can concede the man does has foreign policy experience. You may not like it, but it is indeed true that 80% don’t like the course the country has taken in the last 3 years.

    Also, how can the party in power campaign on change? Last I checked, the President is Republican. McCain is Republican, who under his own admission has voted with the Bush 90% of the time. So how can voting for the status quo equate change? Palin is change? Well, sure she’s female and inexperienced, but those are hardly ‘changes’ worth voting for….

  13. But Obama’s change mantra is supposed to be about more than just changing which of the two parties is in power. It’s supposedly all about changing “the same old Washington politics”. Yet he picks a 30-yr Washington veteran as a VP and he himself has shown little evidence of ever rocking the Democrat boat.

  14. What I like about the Macleans blog roster is that, generally, the commentary is insightful, witty, and non-partisan, with the exception of this one, which truly sucketh. The tone is often whiny and pleading, in stark contrast to Savage Washington which gives much superior, whine-free content on US politics.

    I don’t think that emphasizing change is the primary reason for an outside the box choice like Palin (though, it does complement the Maverick brand McCain wants to portray). Rather, the Palin choice undermines Obama on the “commander in chief” question, because as little experience as she has, McCain (and others) will (plausibly) argue that she’s more qualified than Obama.

  15. “he himself has shown little evidence of ever rocking the Democrat boat.”

    Really? Gee I’d have thought that if he wanted to not rock the boat, he could have simply allowed Clinton to march to victory.

    And let’s face it, there have never been arguments, let alone plausible ones, put forth by the McCain campaign that Palin is more qualified than Obama. It was pure tokenism that motivated that pick.

    I think it’s a useful exercise to imagine Palin fighting for the Republican nomination last year. How many states can one imagine this powerhouse winning?

  16. Palin has “plausibly” more experience than Obama as “commander-in-chief”? How exactly? As the “commander-in-chief” of her five kids? Or is all this “plausible” argument based her being mayor of small town Alaska? Yeah, come to think of it Wasilla, Alaska could prepare just about anyone to be President. In fact, they might want to consider putting that on a sign outside the town.

  17. Plebe:

    Though I also enjoy Savage’s blog, I like that Parisella’s offers something different. It’s called an opinion. Sometimes I agree. Many other times I don’t. If you don’t like, why do you bother reading it? Nothing irks me more than people who posts critiques of blogs with complaints like “whiny”. Sounds like you are the who’s whiny.

Sign in to comment.