Clinton v. Palin: Comparing two might-have-been vice presidents

Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin both came “this close” to being vice president. Obama could easily have selected the former to be his running mate and I have no doubt he would have won handily with her at his side. Had it not been for the financial melt-down, a victorious McCain would have elevated Palin to the vice presidency. Watching Clinton in her confirmation hearing for secretary of state I am unable to envision Palin displaying such a depth and breathe of knowledge about world affairs for hours on end.

There’s no way you can cram for the “exam” Clinton is facing as I write this. Unless she’s on smart pills and they suddenly wear off, she will progress to the end of the hearings without so much as one Saturday Night Live or Daily Show worthy gaff.

This is one of those tests which are easy because you go into them saying to yourself that you don’t have to study because “either I know it or I don’t”.

Either you have a mastery of foreign affairs and international relations or you don’t. Mastery, that’s one word I’d be hard pressed to put into the same sentence with Sarah Palin unless it had to do with subjects taught in charm school.

Clinton talked about using “smart power” in dealing with hostile nations. Not to be nasty, but I can see the late night comedy writers rushing to their notepads to write sketches around Sarah Palin uttering the words “smart power”.

Republican Richard Lugar not only said that Clinton was “remarkable” but added she was “the epitome of a big leaguer.” If she’s a big leaguer, I ask you John McCain, if you agree with your colleague, what does that make Sarah Palin?

Clinton volunteered that she was both moved and influenced by Nick Kristof’s powerful and detailed New York Times columns about the worldwide exploitation of women. A few thousand miles from her, the other “vice president who might have been” is busy casting Katie Couric as a gothcha journalist because she asked a question about what she read with an implication that was clearly not intended.

Palin now says the reason she might have been misunderstood by many voters is because she didn’t give enough interviews.

Am I allowed to say “balderdash” to that, and suggest you use more colorful synonyms?

I wish I was sitting with a group of Palin apologists and diehard fans, those who still insist she was qualified to be vice president, and see if they’d say their “gal” would be capable of expounding on foreign affairs with the expertise of Clinton.

For that matter, I wonder if John McCain could observe this and honestly say that under similar questioning Palin wouldn’t freeze up like an orchid in an Alaska blizzard.

Unfortunately only political junkies spend hours watching U.S. Senate confirmation hearings. That’s too bad, because the morning part of the hearings showed Hillary Clinton at her best.

She is demonstrating that she’d have been an excellent president or vice president, and is a wise choice to head the State Department.

I simply can’t see how anyone not blinded by partisanship and/or limited by cognitive ability could believe that Sarah Palin was qualified to be vice president.

Hal Brown is a clinical social worker and former mental health center director who is mostly retired from his private psychotherapy practice. He writes on the psychopathology of public figures and other topics that pique his interest. He can be found online at . He also publishes a website about his hometown of Middleboro, Massachusetts (aka Middleborough) called Middleboro Matters. Archive: of previous columns.

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  1. sherry

    Obviously, I would like to have seen her as POTUS. That said she did a great job.
    It is sad Sarah Palin just can’t be left alone. She lost.
    The people of Alaska are apparently OK with her, since she still has good approval ratings. I will never understand the need to bash her.
    The continuing sniping at her is uncalled for.
    Hal, I can’t help noticing you have completely changed your attitude regarding Hillary. During the primaries when she was running against Obama, she was lower than dog doo. Now she is good people. And she is also smart. Thanks for finally noticing.

  2. old_curmudgeon

    Just thinking to myself but…perhaps the reason Palin remains a topic might be because she is constantly seeking attention by giving these self-defeating interviews every other day. If she would just return to Anchorage and just be the Governor, in relative obscurity as she was before this brain fart by McCain then I’m sure the majority of the press would ignore her. But, you know that ain’t gonna happen – she obviously feels compelled to keep her name front-and-center.

    But, that’s just this old curmudgeon’s opinion…

  3. claypigeonbx

    No question about Ms. Clinton’s competence. I think she will make an outstanding Secretary of State. For reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with her knowledge or her competence, I sincerely hope she never gets an opportunity to be President.

    Sarah Palin? I don’t consider her qualified to be local “Dogcatcher,” let alone governor of Alaska. Poor Alaska!

    Freedom and Justice for All!

  4. Ladywolf55

    I do not agree with some of Hillary Clinton’s politics, especially gun control issues. However, there is absolutely NO comparison between her abilities/intellect and the lack thereof from Sarah Palin. No comparison. It’s Hillary all the way, if those are the two issues. Hillary is intelligent, articulate, and well-read. Sarah Palin is none of those. No contest.

  5. pondering_it_all

    Eigth years from now, Senator Clinton will be 69 years old, (which is 3 years younger than John McCain is right now). If she does well in the Obama Administration, there’s no reason she couldn’t succeed him.

  6. claypigeonbx

    No, she won’t be too old. And if she could break free from her need to prove her manhood by being such a hawk and cut loose a few of her corporate sponsors, particularly the medical and military ones, then I might even vote for her. Let’s see what she does as Secretary of State.

    Freedom and Justice for All!

  7. mad01

    How about changing the succession from Speaker of the House back to the Secretary of State. That way if the worst happens we won’t get the worst!

  8. Hal Brown

     Okay, I’ll allow thread drift just because this is interesting –

    as it stands now the Secretary of State is fourth in line after three elected officials, Vice President, Speaker of the House, President pro tempore of the Senate. After that the succession goes through the Cabinet in the order the positions were created.

    Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton and how anybody feels about them won’t change the basic idea that the top of the list should have elected officials in it. The members of the House and Senate are all elected by voters in their states, and they as a body each elect these two leaders. So it makes a certain kind of sense that they’d be next in line.

    And other debate would be whether the order of the Cabinet members makes sense given that the only thing that would necessitate moving down into the list that far would be a catastrophe. That’s why some have argued that the Secretary of Homeland Security should not be at the bottom of the list.

    More intriguing would be a debate as to why we don’t have the entire succession line made up of elected officials. We could add two more leaders from Congress, and them move through state governors based on the population of the state.