Sarah Palin: mayor of Smallville
What kind of choice is Sarah Palin as a running mate for John McCain? A weird one. On first blush, Palin looks right enough: she's a state governor and former mayor, 44, and looking to advance into the passenger seat of the presidency perhaps as a stepping stone to the driver's seat 4 or 8 years later. What's wrong with that? Plenty of governors have run for and even won the White House, including TR, FDR, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and George W Bush. But Alaska isn't like most other states. It's geographically gigantic, but in terms of people, it's tiny—47th in the nation. Being governor of Alaska is like being the mayor of a medium-sized city.
Palin started her political career as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, a town of just 5,500 that grew to about 7,000. And that's the fourth largest town in Alaska. It goes:
As you can see, the state capital of Alaska is a small town of 31,000. And the whole state has a population of 780,000, most of which are rural and highly independent. Alaska doesn't have urban blight problems. Alaska doesn't have Mafia problems. Alaska doesn't have a lot of crime at all. Indianapolis, Indiana has a population of 790,000, and it does have urban blight and crime. Being governor of Alaska is easier than being mayor of Indianapolis. It's more like being mayor of Fort Wayne (population 250,000).
Palin has a lot of foreign policy experience, however—that is, if by "foreign" you mean "oil companies." She served on the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and as governor strongly defended oil companies against polar bears, wolves, beluga whales, and gay people.
She did make a real effort to reduce corruption in Alaska, resigning the oil commission because of it and trying to clean up as governor. Unfortunately, she also used her authority to:
Sure, at 44, she's two days younger than the Beatles' appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, but that's only 3 years younger than Barack Obama. And hey, she's been governor for a whole 20 months. That's almost as long as one of Barack Obama's three terms in the state legislature of Illinois (a state only 17 times the population of Alaska). And almost as long as Barack Obama served in the US Senate before starting his run for the presidency. And about as long as Barack Obama has actually been running for president. And she's heard of almost as many foreign countries as Barack Obama has given speeches in. They're practically the same!
John McCain is 72 and in at least middling health. Theoretically, he could survive four years in office, so Palin wouldn't have to take the reins of the most powerful nation in the world before the next election. Only 4 presidents have actually died in office of non-bullet-wound causes... altho no presidents were as old as McCain will be in November. In the meantime, he's got socks older than Palin. Surely he could teach her all about politics on the national stage before he succumbs to cancer or heart disease or stroke.
UPDATE: More Sarah Palin fun factz
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Mark Beckstrom from Dubai writes:
Alaska being the 47th largest state by population - what's 48-49-50 - Delaware?
Good point! But Joe Biden is a US senator from the 45th smallest state (still bigger than Alaska!)... and one that is home to about half of all US corporations (tax breaks, you know) and has all the same concerns about crime and poverty that the larger contiguous states do. The US Senate was specifically designed so that representing a small state was no different from representing a large one. Plus, he's been a senator since 1973 and is chairman of some important committees. So Joe knows the economy. Joe knows national defense. Joe knows international diplomacy. He just doesn't know how to field dress a moose. —DJ
Tim Hopewell writes:
"He just doesn't know how to field dress a moose." Says you!
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