Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Is Sarah Palin A Drag on the Ticket?

Any comedian looking for stand-up material should look no further than Sarah Palin. I think she has all the material a stand-up or late night host would need. She just never seize to amaze us.

Vice presidential candidates may not win elections, but this year it's looking increasingly likely that Sarah Palin may help lose one.

Asked by a third-grader what a vice president does, Republican candidate Sarah Palin responded that the vice president is the president's "team mate" but also "runs the Senate" and "can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes."

It's a tremendous oversimplification of her potential duties, and many were quick to point this out. Some even insinuated that perhaps Gov. Palin doesn't even know what a VP does, while others pointed out that these were third graders, not a room of political science majors. A panel of experts wonders: Is the media being sexist?

The vice president's main duty is to replace the president if the president dies, resigns, is removed from office or can no longer carry out his or her duties for other reasons. The Constitution names the vice president as the president of the Senate but allows the vice president to cast a vote only to break a tie.

The vice president, as a member of the executive branch of the government, has no official role in developing legislation or determining how it is presented to or debated by the Senate, which is part of the legislative branch. In all meaningful ways, the leader of the majority party runs the Senate.

The subject of the vice president's duties came up as Palin sat for an interview with KUSA-TV in Denver, which has a feature called "Question from the Third Grade." The interviewer asked, "Brandon Garcia wants to know, 'What does the vice president do?'"

For the first time, she has a net-negative fav/unfav rating (38%-47%), the only principal [candidate] to carry that distinction. What's more, 55% think she's unqualified to serve as president if the need arises, which is a troublesome number given McCain's age. (Have worries about McCain's age risen because of Palin? Seems to be the case)."

Pew released its latest poll that echoes many of the NBC/WSJ's findings about voters' perceptions of Palin and their effect on McCain. Pew's headline doesn't mention Palin specifically -- "Growing Doubts About McCain's Judgment, Age and Campaign Conduct" -- but it has this telling observation in the write-up:

"Notably, opinions of Palin have a greater impact on voting intentions than do opinions of Joe Biden, Obama's running mate."
Obviously, the McCain people aren't loving this and Politico reports that the candidate himself says he's "amazed" by the reaction to his VP pick. Politico writes:

"She is a governor, the most popular governor in America," McCain said. "I think she is the most qualified of any that has run recently for vice president."

"I'm amazed. I'm amazed. Which is better? Serve 35 years in the United States Senate and say you've got to divide Iraq into three different countries, or be governor of a state and a reformer and give people their tax dollars back and bring about reform in the way that your state does business? Which is better?"

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