Point/Counterpoint: Is she ready?

PRO

Character is the foremost criterion for the president of the United States. The experience hoopla, surrounding first Obama and now Palin, has distorted the discussion to obscure the primary issue at hand: the need to elect an individual whose principles will shape policies consistent with our American ideals.

Certainly, political experience both proves leadership abilities and improves them through practice. But while political prowess is an important qualification, it’s an insufficient criterion by which to select the next presidential pair. The executive power of the Presidency is far greater than and substantially different from what Obama, Biden, McCain or Palin has seen. The chasm between its vast responsibilities and their experience dwarfs any differences among the four.

Hire expertise. Appoint shrewdness. But principle must be ingrained beforehand. Every new chief executive acquires presidential qualities on the job, but none suddenly learns moral courage in a moment of crisis. The next four years hold rapidly changing circumstances, unforeseen threats, and lurking crises. In such uncertain times, the shape that our nation will assume is best foreseen in the character of our leader. Palin’s devotion to ethics reform and her consistent stance on social issues, communicated unabashedly via refreshingly transparent language, have proven her character to be worthy of supporters’ faith.

Governor Palin’s gosh-darn-its, winks and shout-outs either charm or terrify, but her moral sense — insistence on duty, humility and accountability — is unflinching. Only the latter carries over to perspective and ultimately informs policy.

Caroline Swinehart


PRO

Governor Sarah Palin is certainly qualified to lead the United States.

Her past experience, in fact, might even make her the most qualified of all four candidates on the ticket. The reason is simple: Palin is the only candidate vying to lead the Executive Branch of the United States of America who has experience as an executive — and an extremely effective one at that. The skills needed to run one state well are strikingly similar to those required to enforce the laws made for all fifty states of our nation.

As the sitting governor of a state twice the size of Texas, Palin knows a thing or two about executive strategy and implementation.

Since assuming gubernatorial office in 2006, Palin has overhauled education funding, implemented benefits programs for senior citizens, built heretofore lacking oversight into her administration, and seen around corners to prepare Alaska for future issues, like the ramifications of climate change.

She has set priorities and acted on them, already effecting great change.

There is no doubt that she would be just as effective in Washington as in Juneau.

More important, though, than Palin’s specific accomplishments as governor of Alaska is the fact she has had the experience of that office in the first place.

Much about Governor Palin is open to debate – that she is qualified to seek the office of vice president and potentially serve as thepresident is not.

Casey Verkamp


CON

Sarah Palin may have many Whitehouse-worthy qualities: she’s a reformer, a mother, an administrator, a powerful yet feminine woman. But choosing a president shouldn’t revolve around delineated qualifications, checking things off a list in the way one would assess a potential roommate (Executive? Family man? Veteran? Non-smoker?). It should be about an accumulation of incredibles, going above and beyond the minimum standards rather than meeting them.

Palin’s main line of appeal, however, seems not her exceptionalism but her commonness. She understands the middle class, she feels for women, and doggonit, she gets Average Joe. But we shouldn’t want someone in office who thinks as we do. We should want someone who thinks better than we do.

Palin, unfortunately, has had neither the education nor the time to prove that she is capable of thinking better than you or I; her credentials are pedestrian and her record is sadly thin. She attended four different mediocre colleges, and in office produced nothing noteworthy, often failing to follow through on promises such as cutting Wasilla’s spending or the infamous ‘Bridge to Nowhere’. Where is her extraordinary intellect? The incomparable improvements she’s spearheaded? Her startlingly insightful plans for the future? What has she produced, invented, or commanded in a way no one else could have?

We should be elitist when selecting our elite. And while Sarah Palin may resonate in the hearts of our homeland and be representative of the people, if anything, that should disqualify her for office. The vice president — much less the president — should not be a mere representative. She should be a leader.

Brooke Willig


CON

During a recent radio interview with Hugh Hewitt, Governor Palin proclaimed the following: “It’s time that normal Joe Six-pack American is finally represented in the position of vice presidency.” It was an answer formulated in response to the anti-Palin mentality currently prevailing throughout some of the country. It also showed why “some” is not nearly enough.

Neither the president nor the vice-president should ever actually be “Joe Six-pack” Americans. Protect and represent them, yes. Embody them, absolutely not. On both sides of the political spectrum, there is now a desire for leaders who are “normal folks,” and not, God forbid, either elite or elitist. The Kennedy era is over. It is this mindset that forced President George W. Bush ’68 to disown his Yale education and now requires Senator Obama to hide his diplomas from Columbia and Harvard Law under the rug if he hopes to be elected.

This is ludicrous.

The Presidency requires the best we have. It necessitates the elite. It demands an abnormal intelligence, will and temperament not present in the majority of the American populace. It is therefore frightening that someone so self-righteously average (if that) as Governor Palin should be so close to leading this country and believes a “normal Joe Six-pack American” is what we want and also need. You would never choose an average professor to teach your children or an average doctor to perform surgery on a loved one. You would choose the best. Elected officials should be no different, and we should demand no less.

Riley Ford

Comments

  • 0Y8

    All Tory Party?

  • Y'11

    This reeks of elitism. Guess what? Biden went to the University of Delaware, then Syracuse University College of Law, where he graduated at the bottom of his class. Does that mean he's not qualified to be VP either? Not going to an Ivy League school doesn't mean one is fit to lead? Sheesh, Bush went to Yale, and look at the mess he's gotten us into.

  • Brown '09

    The idea that a black main raised by a single white mother in America can be defined as an elitist betrays a failure of our culture-recognition software and is only possible because white people look at black people with a pretty fundamental lack of perception.