The Corner

First You Have to Get Elected

From a reader:

Your argument concerns her surviving hostile scrutiny, and somehow making it to the election unscathed. Implicitly, you also argue that if she does, she’ enhance McCain’s election chances. Let’s stipulate she exceeds expectations on all of these points. But then, on a bright Spring day in 2009, President McCain dies of a sudden massive heart attack. Then what? Is she really comparable to Truman? What I’m asking is: forget about how clever this is (or isn’t), and cut to the real chase — is this governor of 19 months a prudent piece of succession planning?

Me: My short answer is, I don’t know, but I think so. But the question, which I hear a lot, is off point. The relevant question is whether McCain thinks so and whether he’s right. But, look: I understand the Frummian-Ponnurite objections and I think they have merit. But I would rather have John McCain in office for two years with Palin going to school on the job than have Barack Obama in there from day one (particularly with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid running the Congress!). I think Obama is wrong on a whole lot of things, might not be up to the job and would give a blank check to Congress. And he’s the guy running for president. Palin might not be up to the job, we’ll have to see, but we’re not voting for her to be president (a distinction countless liberal bloggers seem intent on deliberately blurring). Obama is wrong from day 1. Palin possible right from day 1, but almost surely right on day 1,082 if, God forbid, that day comes. McCain has his problems, and so does McCain-Palin. But we’re in either/or territory now. That’s how the two party system works.  And now I’m off to lunch with Kathryn. 

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