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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Empirical proof of Palin's leadership abilities relative to Barack Obama's

Fred Kaplan writes in Slate:

At times like these, I'm relieved that I don't cover elections. There's bum DNA in my heart, and the agita might send me keeling over.

How else to react to the sight of sophisticated people saying, with impressively straight faces, that Sarah Palin is qualified to be vice president โ€” even president โ€” because she's been the mayor of a town of 6,000 residents (the population of Wasilla when she served there in a job that even she admitted was "not rocket science") and the governor of Alaska, which has only 100 times as many people and a legislature that meets a mere 90 days a year?

Wow, that's just devastating. So someone's leadership ability is proportional to their state's population. Who knew?

So let's work with that, Fred. That would make George W. Bush of Texas (2000 population: 21 million) a little bit more than three times as good a leader as Al Gore of Tennessee (2000 population: 6 million) or John Kerry of Massachusetts (2000 population: 6 million), wouldn't it? And almost twice as good a leader as Barack Obama of Illinois (2000 population: 12 million).

So let's turn to the other leadership metric that Fred's given us. The Texas Legislature meets for 140 days every two years, or 70 days per year on average. Since the Alaska Legislature meets 90 days each year, that must mean that Sarah Palin is a 28.5% better leader than George W. Bush, who's almost twice as good a leader as Barack Obama. So now we know that Sarah Palin's leadership ability isn't just comparable to Barack Obama's, it's well more than twice as good!

I really appreciate Fred Kaplan getting us started on this line of inquiry. Next week: Leadership ability as a proportional function of a candidate's home state's total land area!

(Or ... maybe Fred Kaplan is just being an elitist idiot.)

PS: Section 7 of the Alaska Constitution actually authorizes the Alaska Legislature to meet for 120 calendar days each year, but the voters of Alaska decided, through a 2006 ballot initiative, which then-gubernatorial candidate Palin supported, to restrict the Legislature to 90-day sessions. Fred Kaplan probably wouldn't see the point of that, either.

PPS: One of the oldest jokes in Texas is that the provision in the Texas Constitution calling for the Legislature to meet for 140 days every two years is actually a typo. It was actually supposed to read: "two days every 140 years."

PPPS: Ugliest thing I've ever seen Mickey Kaus write, of which he should be ashamed, also in Slate: "Trig is already becoming a bit of a prop, however." It would have been wrong to say that about JFK's kids. It would have been wrong to say that about Amy Carter. It would have been wrong to say that about Chelsea Clinton. It would be wrong now to say that about the Obama daughters. And it is at least equally wrong to say that about Trig Palin. Shame on you, Mr. Kaus.

Children and American politics have been intertwined since at least the days of John Adams, and they would have been sooner had George Washington not been childless. There is no legitimate fault to find in any of these politicians having their children in the audience or onstage with them after their speeches; to the contrary, it is a long-standing tradition. And it wasn't the Palin family who directed the TV coverage; rather, the professionals who do that recognized that the American public finds children to be telegenic and a relief from continuous pictures of either the speakers or the grown members of the audience. This is a shoddy criticism, unworthy of you, Mr. Kaus.

Posted by Beldar at 07:02 AM in 2008 Election, McCain, Obama, Palin, Politics (2008) | Permalink


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(1) jimmy made the following comment | Sep 4, 2008 6:53:21 AM | Permalink

Here, here.

I would also add that politicians CAN be "fair" game if and only if they reach a certain age (i.e the Bush twins out drinking, etc) - that's part of life.

But a newborn baby as a prop! Kaus should rightly be ashamed as you pointed out.

(2) Sav made the following comment | Sep 4, 2008 7:07:29 AM | Permalink

I was really surprised to see Kaus write that. Not only is it below him, it's absurd for the reasons mentioned above.

Did he take issue with her nod to parents with special-needs kids? Could that be it? If so, that's rather lame.

(3) Curt Johnson made the following comment | Sep 4, 2008 7:40:15 AM | Permalink

I'm afraid Kaplin is an ass about these things. His thing is geopolitics and he's often wrong even there. He no idea what it means to run a small town or a state of any size; no idea that it depends not on size of population but the complexity of the issues involved and the resources available to deal with them.

Kaplin is being just plain stupid, and not for the first time.

(4) dave made the following comment | Sep 4, 2008 7:52:50 AM | Permalink

What do you think they would say if the Palins left Trig with a babysitter and appeared only with their other kids?

Trig is part of the Palin family. When the family appears, he will be there with them. They better get use to it.

It's amazing that such a tiny baby has struck so much fear in the hearts of so many democrats.

(5) w3bgrrl made the following comment | Sep 4, 2008 8:19:18 AM | Permalink

Palin is a mother who includes her children and her children will be in photos. If the liberal media uses the fact that they stick around with Mom as an excuse to excoriate them, it will be to the liberal media's further detriment.

Mothers all over the country who have started in the PTA can identify with bringing your children along with you as you serve your community. Its far better to have them with you than spend your time away from them worrying they are okay.

The media doesn't get it because the media themselves see children as props. Look at how children in entertainment are treated! They are props!

They don't get this woman and they don't get mothers in this country. So be it.

(6) w3bgrrl made the following comment | Sep 4, 2008 8:27:29 AM | Permalink

Okay, so now I've gone over to Kaus and watched him and Bob Wright bandy around the Bristol issue.

Bob made the claim that if you "go over to the Dobson forums" you'll see a lot of evangelicals saying if Palin had stayed at home she wouldn't have a pregnant 17 year old daughter.

So... I went over the Focus on the Family Parenting Forums and did a search for "bristol" and "palin". I came up with ZERO search results.

Is this more debating a caricature of Evangelicals or can Bob prove his claim that the FotF forums are burning up with judgment of Palin's mothering ability?

(7) Xanthippas made the following comment | Sep 4, 2008 8:45:02 AM | Permalink

Wow, that's just devastating. So someone's leadership ability is proportional to their state's population. Who knew?

Uh, I think you missed the point.

Also, if you think that's the ugliest thing Kaus has ever written, you must not pay close attention to what the man writes.

(8) Beldar made the following comment | Sep 4, 2008 8:55:49 AM | Permalink

Xanthippas, since you seem to be a rather humorless sort, let me say it with no snark: Kaplan was being an ass and an idiot. Being from a big city, or a populous state, is no guarantee or even indicator that you're a better public servant. And every situation has its own challenges. The governor of Alaska, in fact, has unique challenges that are a direct function of the sparse population spread out over a huge area, which complicates things like delivery of health care, intra- and interstate transportation, costs of living, law enforcement, and a variety of other governmental functions. No state governor is entitled to the sort of flippant disrespect that Kaplan displayed.

His suggestion that competency has anything to do with how long the legislature is in session is even stupider. If anything, that would place more demands on the governor, who needs to have his or her legislative agenda better organized and to be able to accomplish more in a shorter time. In any event, a governor's responsibilities, no less than a president's, are 24/7/365.

As for Kaus, I read his column regularly, and have done so for several years; we've corresponded a few times by email, and he's linked my blog and I've certainly linked his column. But I can't vouch for having read every word he's ever published. This is, as I said, the ugliest thing I've seen him write; that implies (a) a subjective judgment on my part, and (b) a potential limitation on the scope of the material.

(9) Linus made the following comment | Sep 4, 2008 10:11:09 AM | Permalink

"Trig is already becoming a bit of a prop, however."

Why doesn't someone ask these idiots what exactly it is they'd like Gov. Palin to do with her children? As someone mentioned above, perpetually leave them home? Put them in burlap sacks so no one can see them? Their mere presence is "being used as a prop"?

Plus, who exactly is in charge of the cameras, and the camera angles? Do you think it's Gov. Palin? If MSNBC chooses to show shot after shot of the kids, that's Gov. Palin's fault?


(10) Bud Norton made the following comment | Sep 4, 2008 2:07:03 PM | Permalink

Her counterpart on the Dem ticket represents a state with a population of 783,000 in the 2000 census compared to 626,000 for Alaska in the 2000 census. Each has one representative in the House so I'd call that a tie on which state is less important/ more unimportant. Time for Kaplan to move on to his other arguments, if he has any.

(11) Gregory Koster made the following comment | Sep 4, 2008 6:39:32 PM | Permalink

Dear Mr. Dyer: Without forcing the logic to Kaplanesque absurdities, I think most folks would agree that running a larger state/organization is "denser" experience than running a smaller organization. Learning how to make your wishes effective when you have to go through, say, a six-level organization chart is decidedly different than sticking your head out the door and asking Jane or Fred to bring you that file, you need it for the memo you're writing. I think it's fair to say that Palin's experience does not compare to, say, being governor of, say California, or Florida, but is well ahead of being commanding officer of a Navy training squadron, and light years ahead of the opposition's executive experience.

I think Kaus was right. Trig Palin was being used as a prop. How to judge? Use the standard family court rule: What's in the best interests of the child? Is attending your mother's acceptance speech in the Palin children's best interests? For Track, Bristol, and Willow, the answer is easy: yes, this is a historic event, and the child is old enough (in Track's case legally an adult, and Bristol next door to being one) to appreciate and learn something from the experience. With 7 year old Piper, the judgment is harder. But even if attending this event does her no good, it doesn't do her much harm either. With Trig, the answer is easy: this even does him no good at all, and has a slight risk of nuisance, i.e. Trig doing what most of us should do but don't during a political speech: filling his diapers in response after sleeping through most of it. No, Trig was being used as a prop. As you say, there is a history of using children, though the last babies used as props were the Kennedy children, forty years ago. I think Trig should be kept out of public view, and maybe Piper too. The other children are old enough for the educational effects to outweigh the deforming publicity effects. It's a tough year for the GOP, and if bringing out the Palin family gets more votes, it will be done. But let's not kid ourselves that this is in the best interests of the Palin family. The family faces a fearsome burden, not least because of a press that is invested in GOP defeat, and will never forgive victory. If destroying the Palin family will get The One in, look for Sullivan, SLATE, and the NEW REPUBLIC gang to be in the forefront, howling for blood, even while The One piously smirks that he regrets this terrible intrusion of privacy, but it's nothing to do with him. Glenn Reynolds was right: Mike Murphy should just have announced that the father of Bristol Palin's baby was John Edwards, and the press would have been deadlocked, unable to do a dam thing.

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

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