On this blog we have had numerous comments questioning Sarah Palin’s ability to fulfill the role of vice president. There is a tendency to want to compare her to Obama who is obviously running for president. President and vice president are two distinctly different job descriptions and it is my opinion that Sarah Palin will have no problem more than adequately fulfilling the requirements of the office of VP. I also believe that VP is a role well suited to a woman and that is what this post is all about.
What does the Vice President do anyway?
According to the Constitution the role of vice president only involves two specific things beyond the general role of supporting and serving as a strengthening agent for the president.
1). The Vice President of the United States is the first person in the presidential line of succession, becoming the new President of the United States upon the death, resignation, or removal of the president.
2) The vice president serves as the President of the Senate, and may break tie votes in that chamber. The Constitution goes on to say, regarding the vice president, “He or she may be assigned additional duties by the president but, as the Constitution assigns no executive powers to the vice president, in performing such duties he or she acts only as an agent of the president.”
With this in mind, Sarah Palin’s job description as VP (aside from being around in case John dies and breaking the occasional tie) will be what John McCain needs her job description to be.
Walter Mondale, who is now 80 years old, is known for serving as the 42nd vice president of the U.S. under Jimmy Carter. He is also known for being the first presidential candidate to choose a female running mate. Mondale chose Geraldine Ferraro to run along side him is his presidential bid in 1984. Mr. Mondale understands the VEEP job well and was recently asked to weigh in on McCain’s choice of Palin. Mondale stated that a key question that would determine whether she was suited for the job or not would be to determine what role John McCain would have her in; he stated “ask John McCain how he sees Palin strengthening him in the role of President?”
John McCain has answered this question clearly, in Minnesota at the RNC he told audiences he would make Palin, “the public face of the country’s drive for energy independence”; a job Sarah Palin is more than prepared for. According to McCain’s website “As Governor, Palin is chair of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, a multi-state government agency that promotes the conservation and efficient recovery of domestic oil and natural gas resources while protecting health, safety and the environment. She also serves as chair of the National Governors Association Natural Resources Committee, which is charged with pursuing legislation to ensure federal policy in the areas of energy, environmental protection and natural resource management.
Jerry Bowyer, a respected economist and contributing editor on CNBC said of Palin, Sarah knows the oil industry inside and out. She can back McCain in the defense of drilling, transporting and refining oil. Who knows drilling and the issues surrounding it better than the governor of Alaska?
The second role John McCain is expecting his running mate to fulfill was also made clear at the time of her nomination. At the RNC McCain said he wanted Sarah Palin to continue developing her reputation as a government reformer. Later on the television show “The View” John McCain said “Sarah Palin is good for the country because of her reformer credentials, she will reform spending for lawmakers’ pet projects.” Palin is also extremely well equipped for this role. She defeated incumbent Gov. Frank Murkowski of Alaska, before winning the governor’s seat in 2002 and ethics was the centerpiece of her campaign.
In reference to Sarah’s role as a reformer, Clark Judge, who wrote speeches for President Ronald Reagan and now heads the White House Writers Group, a Washington public affairs company, said “No political figure in the US has more experience in taking on privilege and vested interests than Sarah Palin.”
In summary, the vice presidential job description becomes what the president desires it to be and Palin is a great choice because she meets McCain’s specifications and needs and meets them to a “T”. Tim Shipman a reporter for the Sunday Telegraph in St. Paul Minnesota aptly reported on McCain’s ideas and strategies surrounding Palin’s nomination and nominations for his cabinet.
On Sept 10th, Shipman wrote “Finding a substantial role for Mrs Palin is just one of Mr McCain’s plans for government. Campaign officials say that Joe Lieberman, the independent democrat… has been promised a job in Mr McCain’s cabinet. Mr Lieberman is pencilled in to become Secretary of State or Defence Secretary in what insiders say will be a “government of national unity on foreign affairs”. Mr McCain has been seriously considering naming senior cabinet posts before the election, to emphasise the breadth and experience of his team and demonstrate that he plans to reach across the political aisle.
In short, McCain’s choice of Palin was not a spur of the moment move based on her charisma value—or the “hottie” factor. McCain has strategically thought through a team that he feels can support him well. Sarah Palin just happens to be the key member of that team and is actually a perfect choice for vice president considering what McCain needs. Even in regard to the age question, in my opinion Sarah is a perfect balance for McCain, she brings a youthful exuberance to the ticket while at the same time matching McCain’s reputation as a “maverick” and a reformer at every juncture.
Finally, perhaps the greatest asset Palin brings to the Republican ticket at this time is her gender.
In reviewing a recent poll of “women only” done by the Lifetime channel some definite turn-arounds–indicative of who women will be voting for in November–became evident. “Bringing Ms. Palin to the Republican ticket has been a very galvanizing factor for the McCain campaign in terms of their posture with women,” said pollster Kellyanne Conway, for the Lifetime Network. Ms. Conway also reported, “more women will vote than men this fall – as has happened in every presidential election since 1964 – and they will be a deciding factor. Less than two months ago, Mr. McCain was trailing Mr. Obama significantly among women, and now they are now pretty much neck and neck.” Among women who had supported Hillary Rodham Clinton in the primaries, this poll showed now 72 percent have swung to Mr. Obama and a strong 20 percent have changed sides to join Mr. McCain.
What is the reason for this turn-around and desertion to the other side by so many female democrats? It is quite simple many women in the Democratic Party feel betrayed and dismissed by Obama. They went for Hillary in huge numbers and the democrats didn’t hear there cries for female representation. Sarah Palin on ABC news said she thinks Barack Obama regrets not making Hillary Rodham Clinton his running mate, off the cuff she told Charles Gibson, “I think he’s regretting not picking her now.” In contrast McCain choosing a female running mate at this time was nothing short of genius on his part.
I believe many women have realized that they would like to see female representation as part of the Executive branch of this government sooner rather than later. Some of the evangelicals that are taking a look at Palin because of her pro-life stance may have difficulty with a woman as VP of our nation. But personally, I am one Christian commentator who has no problem with the second highest office in the land being held by a female and I equally have no difficulty squaring this with my biblical beliefs.
Women along side men in a complementary role in leadership can be found throughout Scripture. Deborah worked with the Hebrew general Barak (not to be confused with Obama) to set the Jews free from oppression in the Old Testament book of Judges. In the biblical narritive the text calls Deborah, “a mother over Israel.” She is referred to as that because she did not try to lead as a man she led as the woman God had called her to be. I believe that Sarah Palin also knows how to lead along side men with grace and sophistication and that she will lead as God has called her and positioned her to lead. Time will demonstrate that Sarah Palin was indeed a wise choice as running mate for John McCain and as I have avowed in other posts on this blog there is no doubt in my mind that Sarah Palin will prove to be the ideal female leader “for such a time as this.”