McCain Running Mate: What Does The VP Do?

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[Election 2008]

John McCain has selected Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. Gov. Palin was first elected to the position in 2006 and previously served as the mayor of Wasilla , population 5,470.

She also served on the town's city council. She has a degree from the University of Idaho where she minored in political science. That is the extent of her political experience.

Her biography is fascinating. She is only 44 years-old. She eloped with her highschool sweetheart, a Yup'ik Eskimo. They have five children named: Track 18, Bristol, 17, Willow, 13, Piper, 7, and Trig, who was born on April 18th. Trig has Down's Syndrome. The Palins knew that Trig had an extra chromosome but decided to go ahead with the pregnancy.

"I'm looking at him right now, and I see perfection," Palin said. "Yeah, he has an extra chromosome. I keep thinking, in our world, what is normal and what is perfect?"

Palin is an avid hunter and her husband is a champion snowmobiler who works for British Petroleum. She has admitted to smoking the ganja but says she didn't enjoy it. She was the runner-up in the Miss Alaska contest.

You'll be seeing this quote quite a lot today:

In an interview just a month ago, she dissed the job, saying it didn't seem "productive."

In fact, she said she doesn't know what the vice president does.

Larry Kudlow of CNBC's "Kudlow & Co." asked her about the possibility of becoming McCain's ticket mate.

Palin replied: "As for that VP talk all the time, I'll tell you, I still can't answer that question until somebody answers for me what is it exactly that the VP does every day? I'm used to being very productive and working real hard in an administration. We want to make sure that that VP slot would be a fruitful type of position, especially for Alaskans and for the things that we're trying to accomplish up here for the rest of the U.S., before I can even start addressing that question."

You'll also be hearing a lot about an abuse of power investigation. It's nothing really major but it appears she fired the Commissioner of Public Safety because he would not fire her sister's ex-husband. Her sister's ex-husband had allegedly threatened to kill Palin's father and had used a taser on his 11-year old stepson. I don't know why Palin didn't have him arrested rather than using a cut-out to have him fired. Whatever. Alaskan politics are crazy and corrupt.

In fact, Palin was elected on a platform of reform. With the Alaskan GOP embroiled in federal corruption investigations, Palin promised a new day. Needless to say, this abuse of power investigation undermines her reform message. In fact, most political observers thought the abuse of power investigation had ended any possibility that she would be selected as vice-president.

I am not aware of Palin having any knowledge or experience with foreign affairs, terrorism, the armed forces, or the federal bureaucracy. I watched her give a joint interview with Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano on PBS a few months ago. It was clear that she had a good relationship with Napolitano and that she was a 'new kind of Republican'. I was impressed with her as a person. But that is all I remember from the interview and I have never seen her speak in any other forum.

Considering John McCain's age and history with cancer, this pick has extra importance. It's hard to envision Gov. Palin becoming president on short notice. It also undermines McCain's focus on foreign policy and experience. But, McCain had to do something bold. He is going to try to narrow the gender gap. Will women follow?

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