Palin for President?

Razib has noted that there is a 15% chance that if McCain/Palin is elected, that Palin will take office based on actuarial data. However, I beg to differ with this given that the presidency is a) known to add years to a person’s life, b) is a somewhat more dangerous job than average (there are 43 presidents, and four were killed in office, making this one of the most dangerous jobs in America) and c) we might as well consider other ways that a president can leave office, because that happens sometimes.

Of the last eight presidents that are also dead, half were dead before reaching McCain’s present age. Of the four that outlived McCain’s present age, one was tossed out of office thus ceding the presidency to the vice president.

So if we use these data to model the likelihood that Palin will be elevated to the office of the Presidency if McCain/Palin is elected, it is better than a fifty percent chance.

This does not count the other kind of leaving office, as Ronald Reagan did by having Alzheimer’s or like George W. Bush did by being brainless to begin with. In either of these cases, Palin may or may not become effectively in charge. But we won’t know who is in charge. That might be bad.

Now, I want you to look here, at this list of previous candidates for president or vice president who happen to be female. Tell me that Sarah Palin is not on or near the bottom of this list. I’d rather have a random pick from this list (minus Martha Mitchell) than McCain’s choice (though I may be missing a ringer or two in here, so don’t hold me to this).


  1. #1 Alan Kellogg
    August 30, 2008

    Remember Earl Warren, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States? Head of the Warren Court, author of opinions supporting civil rights etc.? Do you know why he was chosen by Dwight D. Eisenhower to be Chief Justice?

    Chief Justice Earl Warren was chosen by Eisenhower, and confirmed by the Senate, because he was a conservative governor of the state of California. He was expected to continue in his conservative ways as Chief Justice.

    And let’s not forget that the only man who could ‘go to China’ was considered an ultra conservative in many circles, and a cold warrior of long standing.

    My point? Previous performance in any field is not a reliable predictor of future performance in another field.

  2. #2 Zeno
    August 30, 2008

    Earl Warren was not a particularly conservative governor, except perhaps by comparison with his Democratic predecessor, Culbert Olson, who was strongly identified with labor unions. Gov. Warren was an extremely popular moderate who was elected three times, once with the nominations of both parties. (In those days we had something called cross-filing, which permitted Warren to compete for the Democratic nomination as well as the Republican.) What Eisenhower did not expect was that Warren would turn out to be so strong a civil libertarian. While civil liberties were a traditional pet issue for many members of the GOP in those days (that type of Republican is now extinct), Warren had agreed with the internment of the Chinese during WW II, when he was California’s attorney general. Ike probably thought he would align more with the police powers of the state, but instead Warren spent his years on the Supreme Court atoning for sins like the internment camps.

  3. #3 Steve P.
    August 31, 2008

    I think you mean Japanese internment camps, Zeno. Doesn’t change your point though, which was well formulated.

  4. #4 AliceB
    August 31, 2008

    I knew governor Warren, and Palin is no Governor Warren.

    Well, OK, I didn’t know Warren, but if I did…

  5. #5 PoxyHowzes
    August 31, 2008

    1. While there have been 43 presidents, only 42 people have served in that capacity. (but see 1a below.) IANAPS (a population statistician), but I think those numbers would change the numerical conclusion on how dangerous the job is.

    1.a In addition to the 42 people who have been President, two have been Acting President under the 25th Amendment: G.H.W. Bush and Dick Cheney. One of them (D.C.) would add to the number of men who have been (Acting) President, and so would have to be counted in the statistics.

    2. Similarly, in comparing the degree of dangerousness of one job with another, you must, I think, (again, IANAPS) allow for the fact that only men have thus far served as either president or vice-president. None of the awful statistics on the number of women who died in childbirth before “modern” medicine apply to the POTUS and Veep jobs.

    That said, it is counterintuitive to think that Palin will not be President or Acting President at some time in the first term of a McCain presidency. We should all make sure that we fully understand the 25th amendment to the constitution, including the provisions on what happens if either the VP or Congress should come to the conclusion that POTUS doesn’t have the (e.g., mental) capacity to serve.

  6. #6 greg laden
    August 31, 2008

    Poxy, your first points I considered but did not mention because, as you say, they don’t change anything. Your final point is very interesting. But, alas, “being a woman” or “childbirthing person” is not on the US OSHA list. (NOt that I actually checked the list for this post, but I am pretty familiar with the data)

  7. #7 Mojo Wilkins
    September 4, 2008

    One factual correction. Reagan’s Alzheimers didn’t begin to significantly affect his faculties until a few years after he left office. Just want to correct the historical record.

    Something else to consider is the “Senator curse”. Only two sitting Senators have ever been elected president, Warren Harding and John Kennedy. Both died in office. So it makes you wonder why Senators Obama and McCain want the job…

  8. #8 TC
    September 4, 2008

    Good! I hope she becomes President one way or the other. We need outsiders. We need term limits to force MORE outsiders into DC and fix that festering rat hole. More business people need to be able to work themselves into leadership positions and it cannot happen unless we loosen the iron grip of career politicians, the bar assoc. and other parasites on our government.

  9. #9 Stephanie Z
    September 4, 2008

    Right. We need more business people just like the current president. (Seriously, just like. Her business venture failed too.) It’s worked so well so far.

  10. #10 Greg Laden
    September 4, 2008

    One factual correction. Reagan’s Alzheimers didn’t begin to significantly affect his faculties until a few years after he left office. Just want to correct the historical record.

    I don’t think so…

    Interesting point about the Senator curse, though. That’s pretty reliable. Since there are two senators running neither has a chance. Maybe this is Ron Paul’s election after all!

    No, wait, isn’t he a senator?

  11. #11 sockpuppies
    September 4, 2008

    Ahh…Lenora Fulani…anyone with Louis Farrakhanand the racist Nation of Islam ‘behind her’ is indeed a worthy candidate…I long for that era of ERA, and divisive race and gender based feminist politics.

    Isn’t it nice to see that the success of feminism is when we see equally ass-in-nine women in power?

    I am still wondering why women idiots on the right are not seen as ‘strong capable women’ just like those lip flappers on the left? Wutz a girl gotta do ta git respeck? Put a High Heeled shoe in someones arse, like an apple to a roasted pigz mouth?

  12. #12 Stephanie Z
    September 4, 2008

    When feminism is relegated to the fringes of politics, the female politicians come from and appeal to the fringes. True then, true now, and all the answer to your last set of questions you should need.

  13. #13 sockpuppies
    September 5, 2008

    Feminizm ‘relegated’ to the fringes? Hunnie, feministicism IS the fringes!

  14. #14 Stephanie Z
    September 5, 2008

    Only if you narrow your definition of feminism to the stuff you find in the fringes, which is a lousy way to wage an argument. By the way, I lived in the South long enough to be immune to being honeyed. Much more condescending people than you have tried it.