Tag Archives: sarah palin

Multitasking: It’s kind of a big deal

It looks like John McCain is bailing out of the first presidential primary tomorrow. I find this really disappointing; I LOVE presidential debates.

His reasoning is the economic crisis and all the work that needs to be done on his part to see the country through this hard time. Noble on the surface, but is it, really? He sits on a couple relevant committees and subcommittees in the Senate, but it’s not like they’re twiddling their thumbs waiting for him to gallop in on his noble steed to save the day. The way I see it, the main thing he needs to do is vote on stuff. He’s not in a position to be crafting the terms of the bailout packages or anything like that. Is he? Maybe I’m wrong about that.

McCain just seems to me to be pretty poor at multitasking. He makes a point of only scheduling one campaign stop a day. And now, he can’t take the time to prepare for a debate because of this current ‘crisis’? (I’m a bit dubious of the word ‘crisis’ as applied to the current situation. Oh, it’s not good, I agree wholeheartedly. And granted I don’t understand and am making no attempt to understand the nuanced effect that these government takeovers could have on the market as a whole. But I just don’t see how McCain playing hooky from the debate tomorrow is suddenly going to make rainbows and daisies out of the current situation.) Regardless, I see the presidential debates as like the pinnacle of the election process, the most important steps. Does McCain really want to be president? Or does he want to pretend to act Presidential by hiding in D.C.? It would be really impressive that if he’s going to do something to save us all from this corporate greed, that he could accomplish it AND show up to the debate to tell us all about it. I’d hate to see him have to try to handle two important things at once as president. “Sorry, Iran, you’re just going to have to wait a minute even though you’ve just rolled a nuclear weapon into your main square — we just got hit with a giant earthquake here. Can I pencil you in for next Tuesday? Will that work for you, crazy Iranian people? Swell. Thanks!”

The truth is, I really think he’s using AIG as the dog who ate his homework. We’ve spent the last few weeks watching Sarah Palin being kept under tight wraps from all first-hand media scrutiny (except of course for Charlie Gibson nailing her, that was funny — and damn, how annoying was it the way she said “Charlie”?). I’m not even going to get started on how pot-calling-kettle-black sexist that is of the McCain camp. Can’t they trust this woman to stand her own ground and handle the tough questions, even if it’s to issue her own personal “no comment”s? But now, John McCain is just throwing himself into the media black hole. In his first chance to face off with Obama on national TV, he’s bailing?? That seems so weird. And it’s not like I’m salivating because I think Obama is going to trounce him in the debates; I think McCain is probably going to prove to be a more effective debater than Obama in many respects. Mostly, because he’s a sound bite sort of guy and the American populace doesn’t seem capable of absorbing much more than neatly-packaged sound bites. But since the debates might very well be his forte, why bail? Why not use the forum to share your thoughts on the economy and other matters with the American people? It just smells like a three-day-old fish to me.

Or, maybe he’s just at a point in the campaign where he’s feeling like he’s not quite confident enough to quit his day job. 🙂

Does executive experience make a good president? The results!

I spent many an evening compiling all my results. All the links for all the individual detailed presidential analysis are here.

Now I acknowledge before I go any further that this exercise was purely subjective. If a hundred people did the same thing I did, they numbers would turn out a hundred different ways. Different presidents would be good, or not good, and the presidents’ experience could be counted as “executive” in ways I didn’t consider or excluded. This isn’t fact, it’s simply my opinion. My overtired, worn-out, bleeding-heart liberal (but fiscally somewhat conservative) opinion. I also want to thank the internet, without which I could never have put this together. Specifically, Wikipedia and all the relevant cited sources in each president’s article, and the excellent essays of the Miller Center of Public Affairs were especially helpful.

To review and sum up, I wanted to look at each president and see if their “executive experience” was a strong predictor of their success as president … or if their lack of executive experience was a predictor of a poor presidency. I had a null hypothesis — that being that more presidents that had executive experience (or lacked it) would be good presidents (or not good, if they didn’t have executive experience). The alternative hypothesis would be non-expected results… more presidents who didn’t have executive experience being good presidents (or with executive experience being bad presidents). I decided “executive experience” would be someone who’d served in the executive branch as a governor, but not vice president. A general in the armed forces counted, as did entrepreneurial experience by running a company, or presiding over a college. I went president by president, summing up their experience and whether history has shown them to be a good president.

There were three presidents who I didn’t score because of the brevity of their term, and Grover Cleveland only got scored once, even though he served two non-successive terms. What that means is though there were 43 presidents so far, I’ve only got 39 actual presidencies represented here on out.

I ended up with a pretty even match-up — 21 good presidents and 18 not-good presidents. There were also 24 with executive experience and 15 without executive experience. You get a matrix that looks like this:

When it comes to the null and alternative hypothesis… well, things start getting interesting. Out of 39 presidencies, ones where either a good president had executive experience or a bad president didn’t have it, 16, or 41% of presidents, met the null hypothesis. That means 23, or about 59% of presidents, met the alternative hypothesis. If executive experience were a good predictor of success as a president, I’d expect the percentage of presidencies meeting the null hypothesis at LEAST over 50%… and we didn’t even get there! A very safe conclusion from these numbers is that executive experience is simply NOT a strong predictor of success as a president. If my statistical analysis skills weren’t so rusty, and if I had Excel on this laptop and not just MS Works (which is basically good for making a grocery list and not much else) I could attempt to slap some real statistics on this, but I frankly don’t have the energy and the numbers mostly speak for themselves anyway, in my opinion. If anyone WOULD like to work out some statistical conclusions, be my guest! I’d be happy to supply my original spreadsheet and anything else you may need.

Take a look at that 2×2 matrix by rows, focusing on the “executive experience” or “no executive experience” categorization. I’d say that based on this, if someone comes into office with executive experience, it’s basically a crap shoot whether or not they will be a good president. Without executive experience, however, odds are 2:1 that they WILL be a good president. I guess this is promising for both Obama and McCain, since neither have the executive experience the GOP is claiming makes Palin soooooo “qualified”. It would be interesting to do a multi-categorical analysis of all the presidents, looking at a number of factors to determine which factors were most predictive of presidential success. Maybe it’s a long congressional service. Or geography. Or education. Or personality traits. Or some combination therein. Or some other factor I am not thinking of.

Some interesting observations:

  • The largest of the four categories in the 2×2 is the category of presidents who had executive experience but were not good presidents. I don’t think with a proper statistical analysis that this category would stand out as significant in and of itself, but it just is interesting to look at and ponder.
  • Some of the most highly regarded “good” presidents were in the “no executive experience” category — Lincoln, Kennedy, and Truman stand out. So it’s not like the presidents with executive experience were all the really great presidents and the ones without were just OK.
  • Three of the most consistently ranked worst presidents — Pierce, Harding, and Buchanan — had no executive experience before entering office. So, while executive experience doesn’t mean any sort of guarantee of success, perhaps it at least helps ensure that a president isn’t going to be horribly, tremendously, stupendously awful.

In summary, I believe this executive experience talk is hogwash, and Sarah Palin and Rudy Giuliani and all the other Republiclones need to just shut their pieholes about it. Unless what they’re trying to say is “Hey, at least if Sarah Palin becomes president, she won’t be as terrible as Warren G. Harding.” (Wow, that would be a great campaign slogan!)

VPs for your consideration

I’d said it to my husband before either VP pick was made: for me, the VP pick is so much more important for this election.  McCain’s 72 with a history of melanoma, so while he certainly seems healthy and carts his 90+ year-old mother around the country with him to convince others of his longevity (even though his dad died when he was like 69 or something like that), the chance of his VP needing to step in is a very real possibility.  I think the same goes for Obama.  I hate to even think about it, or feel like I need to think about it, but he’s African-American and there are a lot of very hateful people in this country.  It wouldn’t shock me if he were the subject of a greater-than-average assassination attempt rate.

I do hope as folks, especially undecided folks, consider the choices this fall, that they will really consider the VPs, also.  Their viewpoints, their experience, their politics, their integrity.  Maybe you like Sarah Palin better, or maybe you think Joe Biden holds the advantage.  Either way, whoever wins, I think we stand a more-than-minuscule chance of seeing one of these VPs needing to step in for the President, and maybe not too far into the future.  I hope, if you’re undecided, you’ll watch that VP debate with great interest this election; I feel like it’s a much more significant part of the choice for this race than it has been in the past few elections.

History in the making, whether you like it or not

I have to give props to John McCain. He just picked Alaska governor Sarah Palin to be his running mate. Yeah, she’s a chick.

As far as Republicans go, I have to say John McCain doesn’t give me the dry heaves. Sure, he graduated 894th out of 899 from his class at Annapolis (and probably only got in because daddy and granddaddy were admirals). Sure, he cheated on his disabled first wife when he came home from being a POW and she’d been in a car accident and she wasn’t the stunning beauty he’d left behind to go to war. And that whole “you’re rich if you make over $5 million a year” claim was a bit nauseating. Still, I can give him props too. That whole POW thing. That he still supports his ex-wife financially (and voluntarily so) that she may get the best treatment. He may be a bit crazy but I think deep down he’s got a good heart and he loves this country. If he won, I wouldn’t get the sense of impending doom that I got when W won both times. I wouldn’t be happy, and I certainly don’t want him to win, but I do think he’s a notch or two above a George W. Bush/Cheney administration.

And you just gotta love this VP pick. I’m not naive enough to think that he did it to ensure a history-making winning ticket no matter who wins, though that is very cool. I can see this for what it obviously is — direct pandering to the hoards of undecided Hillary Clinton supporters who are thinking about not voting for Barack Obama because they are “disenfranchised with the primary process” (aka they are sore losers). The McCain camp obviously things these hoards want to get behind a woman — ANY woman — and were thus more than happy to offer one up for them. I find this kind of insulting, because it assumes (and perhaps rightly so for at least some of the Hillary supporters) that the only reason they liked Hillary is because she has a vagina. I hope at least some of her now disenfranchised supporters liked her for more than that, had more reason than than to offer her their support. But maybe not.

Anyway, despite the motivation for the choice, it does make me happy to see an election where we’re going to end up with an historic result. I’m so, so glad for it. It renews my hope.