When You Grow Up, You Can Be President

There seems to be some frustration over John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin as the Republican vice presidential candidate. Most of what I’ve read has concentrated on her inexperience and relative anonymity in the lower 48. One variation on this is the “I’m more qualified than she is” response. I think the focus on qualifications is wrong. For one thing, about 305,025,713 people in the U.S. are still more qualified than the current President, and he’s been in office for 7 years. Like most leadership positions, one’s paper qualifications vanish once the shit hits the fan, and either you learn very quickly on the job, or the rest of us learn very quickly that you’re incompetent. Really the only way to determine that someone is the right person for the job is to put them there — and then remove them if they aren’t.

But since there are so many people, and so many who might be good at the work, the electorate limits its choices to the candidates of various parties. Technically the Electors could choose any natural-born citizen over 35 who has resided within the States for 14 years, but they usually don’t.

The selection of a vice presidential candidate is no different than, for example, the selection of a CEO. The list is narrowed from the start, either to those people the searcher knows personally, or to those holding elective office, or to some other list shorter than the Manhattan telephone directory. Any of the methods of narrowing the list will of necessity eliminate those whose potential greatness awaits an opportunity. In the case of Senator McCain, it seems obvious that he considered Republican governors, Mitt Romney, and Joe Lieberman. That’s a short list.


We were out the island on Sunday for the celebration of a baptism, and a day at the beach. (Say what you will about Robert Moses, he did know how to build a park — and parkways.) Before we left the restaurant to return home, our hosts asked if we knew the way back. Sure, just go back the way we came. Do you have a GPS? No, I have a map. 🙂 You should get a GPS; they’re great.

Are we so afraid of getting lost? Or are maps that hard to read? I don’t much want a GPS receiver for my car. I want one for trail mapping, so I can concentrate on walking.


Zimran, thanks for linking to Michael Lewis’s piece on Sarkozy’s attempt to make the French more productive. It is funny, but given my circumstances at the moment, I would pull out this quote.

Nicolas Sarkozy, the new French president, has decided that the French need to become more productive. He eliminated the law forbidding work weeks longer than 35 hours, and he’s making noises about changing the rule that allows unemployed Frenchmen to turn down job offers that they feel are beneath them and remain on the dole instead.

No French person is likely to be required to work more than 35 hours a week — that appears to be too much to ask for just yet — but any French person who wishes to earn more money may, shockingly, work for it.

“Work more to earn more” is Sarkozy’s dully hopeful slogan.

The thing is, the French don’t want to work more.

Shockingly, I agree with the French. I don’t want to work more either. But then, my problem is not that the law says I may work more than 35 hours per week, but that the company I work for sets rather inflexible deadlines — either because of an inefficiency bred of monopolistic isolation, or sheer stupidity. It’s hard to tell sometimes. After several months of 12 – 16 hour days, it starts to wear on you, and your brain pretty much stops working. Good thing I was a super-genius before this started, otherwise I’d be a blithering idiot now.

M. Sarkozy may be right to eliminate the law restricting the work week to 35 hours, and right to kick the indolent off the dole when they could work. But, working more does not necessarily earn you more. That’s a problem, and one I’m not sure how to solve without the leverage of the State.

Big Woman

While in Virginia for Camp Binky, I read a bunch of papers that my sister had found in Grandmother’s collection of family histories. It turns out that my father’s great-grandfather‘s mother weighed 575 pounds. My aunt has her chair. It’s five or six feet wide. My sister has her apron; it’s more like a tablecloth.