Bowyer: Hey Ankle Biters ... Palin is Qualified

Every columnist, blogger, author of any type who actually uses his real name and gives an email address gets swarmed by the ankle biters: snide, frustrated, angry, supremely confident, always on the attack. Think local a.m. talk radio on open line Friday and subtract 10 IQ points, and you get the picture. You get to know some of the names from repetition.

Since I'm an upbeat sort of a guy, I've decided to make the best of the sad state of public affairs that is internet political discourse. When they throw rotten tomatoes, make V8, I always say. When they throw something else, make a compost heap.

My recent post regarding the choice of Sarah Palin as V.P. nomineereally got them riled up. Screen out the invective and you're left with Sarah Palin is not qualified to be President because she's not qualified to be Vice President because she's less experienced than Biden.

Strange line of reasoning, haven't any of these people read the 12th Amendment? Need a refresher?

Well once upon a time presidential candidates ran against one another and the one who got the most votes got to be president and the one who got the second most votes got to be vice president. That's right, originally vice president meant 'silver medal' winner in the presidential race. This didn't last very long. The losers hated the winners even more than the framers had expected, so that after the race was over they found themselves unable (or unwilling) to work together in any constructive way.

In fact the election of 1800 was so ugly that some commentators began to wonder whether giving the vice president's office to the minority party might not constitute an undue incentive to assassination. Jefferson and Adams really did not get along with each other.

So, the constitution was amended so that the people vote for a presidential ticket made up of a presidential and a vice presidential candidate: only one party in the executive branch at a time.

This made the Vice President something different than it had been before. He (so far) wasn't a co-president, or a counterbalance, or a president regent — he was there to help the president get elected. Yes, there were other powers, the rarely-relevant tie-breaker role in the Senate, and the equally unusual successor role were still there. But it hasn't been about that for a long time; it's about politics.

That's why it's so odd to hear people asking whether Palin is the 'most qualified to be president'. Of course she isn't. Neither is Joe Biden. Do Palin's critics of the left really believe that John Edwards is qualified to be a 'heartbeat away'? How about Joe Lieberman? Henry Wallace? Well if you don't think they should have been president than you can't really have consistently voted for Kerry, Gore or FDR.

Vice President's are generally ticket balancers. Reagan chose George H.W. Bush, his rival, to get the centrists on board. Jack Kennedy did the same thing with LBJ and the southern conservatives. Kennedy couldn't stand Johnson, and would have been horrified at the prospect of him as president (his family and supporters certainly were when it happened). McKinley wanted someone like Teddy Roosevelt for his youth and energy. Teddy did the campaigning; Bill stayed at home and sat on his front porch.

Is Sarah Palin qualified to fulfill the primary traditional role of a vice presidential nominee? Of course she is, because the primary traditional role of a vice presidential nominee is to help elect the top of the ticket. By that standard, the surging favorability ratings, Internet contributions and party unity, she's already shown herself to be worth far more than her (rather meager) weight in gold.

Slideshow: The Many Sides of Sarah Palin

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