Two truisms about the US Presidential race are under particular scrutiny this time around.
The first is that the Vice President is "a heartbeat away" from being President; this is of particular interest given that the Republican candidate, John McCain, will be the oldest first-term President, should he win the election. A surprisingly high percentage of Presidents fail to complete their terms of office, adding further spice to the media interest bubbling around his choice of Veep, Sarah Palin.
On average, a Vice President will succeed to the top job once in every 4.77777777777778 Presidents. The last man to do so was Gerald Ford, some 5 Presidents ago, so if the mathematical mean holds, watch out for President Palin.
Which brings us to the second truism - each party's candidate will start the campaign from the extremes and gravitate towards the political centre, as the need to shore up party support turns into a need to appeal to the broadest base of people. This campaign is unusual in bucking that trend as candidate McCain has to move from a centrist nothing-to-do-with-George Bush position to reach out toward the traditional right-wing Republican base. So for all the talk about this campaign breaking new ground, it comes to something when the right-wing candidate has to recruit a small-town, pro-abortion, fundamentalist Christian gun-nut in order to give his ticket "balance". For that to represent balance, it would put McCain somewhere to the left of Fidel Castro.
Much has been made of Governor Palin's suitability for the task by both sides, but leaving aside the mud-slinging over her executive experience or lack of it - for me the key is in her children. She's had five opportunities to give her kids proper names, and blown it each time, coming up with the following collection of apparently random nouns: Willow, Piper, Bristol, Track and Trig. If we can't trust her judgement when it comes to the comparatively simple task of naming an offspring, I'm really not sure she is the best person to trust with the nuclear missile launch codes.
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