Last week Charlie Gibson started his much ballyhooed interview with Sarah Palin by immediately asking her if she was prepared to be president. For an interview that was spread over three nights’ broadcasts, could he not have taken the time to begin the interview with something more cordial like “how has it been now that you are home in Alaska for the first time since your nomination for Vice President?” Or even a more personal approach, like “tell us about your day with [son] Track as you said goodbye before he deploys to Iraq.”
No, he starts by throwing a fast ball, high and inside.
Sarah Palin answered the question EXACTLY as she should have, saying “yes” (she is prepared). It is hard to imagine that any mentally competent person expected her to answer otherwise. Even her political foes must not have been surprised with that answer, even though they do not believe the answer to be true. Because, the answer she gave was the right answer. And it was the right answer because in our political culture, it was the only answer she could have given if you hold to the presupposition that she wants McCain to be elected president, with her as his running mate.
But the REAL answer to Gibson’s question is one that everyone ought to acknowledge, but virtually none will. And that answer is, NO ONE is prepared, in the strictest sense, to take the job of President of the United States.
That’s right, NO ONE is prepared to be President of the United States of America. And by prepared, I don’t mean a person’s ambitions, attitudes, or their intellectual capacity. What I mean is that NO ONE is prepared, by virtue of previous experience.
“Do you have the experience and the ability” (to be President)?. That is the way Gibson phrased the question. Yes, being a governor involves the type of executive experience that is part of the President’s job. But even being governor of any one of the largest states in the union falls short of the responsibility of President of the United States. And, yes, being a senator provides legislative experience, and sometimes access to information that is considered highly sensitive and sometimes secret. But that again falls short of real preparation to assume the office of President.
Unlike jobs in the private sector where a CEO of a corporation, or a non-profit, or some other organization can change jobs, and bring with him/her the kind of direct experience that could legitimately be called “preparation,” there is absolutely NO job in the world that provides the kind of experience that comes close to approximating the responsibilities and duties of President.
The question of preparation, meaning experience, really is mute. So, media, get on with asking relevant questions about positions, planned policies and objectives of the candidates for President. I would suggest to Charlie Gibson and others of his ilk, that they begin asking these relevant questions about what a candidate plans on doing if they are elected, and lay off of the innane “gotcha” type questions that have such predictable answers. They are not helpful to understanding the candidates.