WHAT IF McCAIN WINS? September 16, 2008Posted by wmmbb in US Politics.
Glenn Greeenwald has some thoughts on the same question. He suggests the following:
By stark contrast[to Obama], Palin is a blank slate — not just in terms of what we know about her, but worse, in terms of what her beliefs are. Outside of a few discrete issues of interest to her (drilling for oil and opposition to environmentalism), and aside from some deep religious fervor and trite right-wing slogans that have been implanted in her brain during these last several weeks, she doesn’t really appear to have any actual thoughts about most political matters. As John Cole put it: “Sarah Palin is the distilled essence of wingnut. She has it all. She is dishonest. She is a religious nut. She is incurious. She is anti-science. She is inexperienced. She abuses her authority. She hides behind executive privilege. She is a big spender. She works from the gut and places a greater value on instinct than knowledge.”
To see why that matters, look at this excerpt today from a new book by The Washington Post’s Barton Gellman, which details how Dick Cheney’s office exerted virtually exclusive control over large numbers of key U.S. programs, and specifically over the illegal warrantless eavesdropping program — facts that Gellman had previously documented. There is every reason to believe that Palin, too, would wield very substantial power as Vice President.
In general, the White House is now far and away the most powerful branch of our government — state power is centralized there to an unprecedented degree. The presidency is so powerful that it’s almost impossible for a President not to share substantial responsibility with the Vice President. Moreover, if McCain wins, he is quite likely to perceive — accurately — that his victory was due in large part to Palin and the enthusiasm she generated. Independently, her immense political popularity among key GOP factions will empower her. The fact that McCain seems completely uninterested in any issues other than fighting and starting wars and his petty fixation on earmarks — underscored by his acute indifference to domestic policy — will leave vast areas for her to manage. His advanced age and previous health problems makes it far more likely than usual that the Vice President will become President.
More alarming than the extremism of the positions that she has clearly formed is the fact that, as her startling ignorance of “the Bush Doctrine” reflects, she doesn’t seem to have clearly formed positions on very much of anything. She’s clearly willing to spout standard right-wing talking points, and perhaps that’s all she’ll ever end up embracing, but it’s one’s inability to know any of that, and the McCain campaign’s commitment to ensuring that we won’t find out between now and November, that makes her potential ascendancy to that office so deeply disturbing.
Palin’s lack of experience is one thing. She did not want to be a Senator, because, as I recall that would not be “Team Palin”. The spin is that Palin will be learning on the job from the “master” McCain, yet it seems that they have diametrically differences of some issues, notably global climate change. Now let us accept that the VP has substantial powers and Sarah believes that she has critically determined the outcome of the election, that she has a special mandate from God and the people, will she be content to do McCain’s bidding? I doubt it. Palin has her own authorities, according to Chris Hedges,at Truthdig, whose advice she will follow?
Why on such a limited acquaintance should anyone assume that McCain and Palin be able to work together? I do not know, but I suspect that vice presidents can only be removed from office by impeachment. At least, Obama said the selected Biden in part to offer contrary opinions and to breakdown groupthink. By contrast, why would not the McCain Presidency be characterized by gridlock and interpersonal conflict?
One contrast with the parliamentary system, or maybe just more evident this year, is the significant Cabinet figures in the next President’s Administration are unknown? For example, given current developments, who will be Treasury Secretary in either a McCain or Obama Administration?
Kevin Drum has a different view suggesting that Sarah Palin should hope for the McCains failure. I do not think he is right. Economic turbulence, and possibly crisis, will make her campaign and any future involvement irrelevant.