A great deal has changed since Harry Truman declared that the job description of the Vice President boiled down to attending weddings and funerals. Recent Veeps have been more directly involved in decisions made at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Their constitutional role may basically be that of US Senate presiding officer, but their practical participation in presidential administrations has grown considerably since Truman's time.
That's why tonight's debate and her statements to the news media in recent weeks paint a clear picture of Sarah Palin as someone we should not entrust with the nation's second-highest office. Yes, her folksy charm, complete with a host of colloquial terms, was in evidence tonight (though someone might want to help her with the pronunciation of the word "nuclear"). She made sure to get her prepared talking points in - even when she seemed to be less a person and more a machine in the way she delivered them.
Her "I'm going to talk straight to the American people" ploy was ridiculous - in such a debate she already is. I know politicians are good at answering questions with a prepared answer that has nothing to do with the question, but why did she think she shouldn't have to answer some questions put to her in the debate? If she's as ready to serve us nationally as her supporters say she is then questions from reporters and political adversaries shouldn't bother her in the least.
I know that Republicans are going to vote for the McCain-Palin ticket no matter what happened tonight just like this Democrat is going to vote for Obama-Biden. I will never claim that my ticket is perfect or that I agree with everything they've said, done or plan to do. But when I watch Joe Biden, despite moments such as his "chief commander" remark tonight and his recent "FDR was on TV in 1929" goof, I see and hear someone who actually knows the ins and outs of the subjects a holder of high national office should know.
We'll need a Vice President to aid our Commander-in-Chief with heavy lifting on foreign policy, energy independence, the economy and other issues. Why should we should elect someone who thinks "Drill, baby, drill" is a great response to our energy woes? That would be a down-the-road drop-in-the-bucket in terms of handling our consumption demands. Why should we support someone who thinks a reasonable plan for getting out of a monumentally costly Iraq conflict is waving the white flag and hurting the troops (she got her troop numbers wrong by the way despite her notes)? It's become apparent in recent years that most Americans want us out of there, including many in Palin's political party. And though my brief 1980s stay in the US Army was in peacetime, I'm confident that troops aren't hurt by getting to come home, including Sarah's and Joe's soldier offspring.
It's laughable that she would conclude Obama and Biden are caught in the past. She and the Forever Warrior are trying to sell us the same snake oil Republicans have poured down our throats through several years of borrow-and-spend, take-care-of-our-rich-buddies, lie-to-get-us-into-war, say-one-thing-and-do-another governance. And sadly for this nation the GOP doesn't even have the decency to give us a Veep pick worthy of the 21st Century, or even most of the 20th Century. It's about more than weddings and funerals now.
UPDATE: A CNN poll of viewers gives the nod to Biden by a 51%-36% margin. The most telling statistic? 84 percent of the people polled said Palin exceeded their expectations in the debate. Considering the fact that Republican pundits did their best to put those expectations as low as possible, that's not surprising. I think she would have gotten that number for not tripping on the carpet as she made her way onstage with the bar set so low by her supporters.