When is a Presidential Candidate Unqualified?
whoooo26505 at yahoo.com
Fri Sep 12 07:19:30 PDT 2008
... can I ask a question? Are not a great deal of you placing too much concern in the idea that presidencies are principally defined by epistemological criteria (knowledge, experience, judgment, wisdom, insight) and by "supernatural" personal attributes (leadership, vision, oratory, intelligence, etc.)? It seems to me that much of what politicians do in the age we live is pre-structured and determined by the true experts -- career bureaucrats, stakeholders, outside experts, interest-group equilibrium, systems analysts, think tanks and the like. All that the politician is in the current age is the spokesperson. We live in an era where Jesse Ventura and Arnold Schwarzenegger have "governed" states; and where people try to become president based upon things like kissing their wife in public (Gore) or giving the public other sorts of cinematic drama. Indeed, one wonders what the difference is between this sort of superficiality and of,
e.g., giving (and naming) large tracts of land in favor of the highest Lords (Lord Penn, Lord Baltimore, the Earl of wherever). Don't you see that there is a relationship between the tv culture, the media culture (entertainment news), academia (everything is vantage point and selfishness), the consumer culture (SUVs, flat screens, IPODs, just drill more oil, etc.) -- and the fact that you have leaders who not the best and the brightest?
The best and the brightest (hopefully) are underneath (or within) the system. (If not, Rome is in deep trouble). Being the politician, therefore, is really just a glam job. It is mythology to think that politicians today lead by the "strong-man" model. In truth, the system preconfigures the choices that are available to the stage theater, and this pluralistic infrastructure continues its operation after election day, when it will in four years open up for another glam competition.
Anyone who passes the democratic ritual is qualified to "govern," i.e., to select among the pre-configured choices.
Dr. Sean Wilson, Esq.
Wright State University
New Website: http://seanwilson.org
SSRN papers: http://ssrn.com/author=596860
----- Original Message ----
From: Sanford Levinson <SLevinson at law.utexas.edu>
To: Mark Graber <mgraber at gvpt.umd.edu>; CONLAWPROF at lists.ucla.edu
Sent: Thursday, September 11, 2008 9:03:37 PM
Subject: RE: The Vice-Presidency, the Graber Equilibrium, and Selectingother Officials
Mark identifies a deep and genuine problem with the notion that We the
People should have some idea who will actually constitute "the
government" before we select our Maximum Leader. Given the widescale
agreement that VP candidates are chosen for short-run political reasons
more than for their likely ability to lead the country should anything
happen to the ML, why should one expect anything different if the
candidates had to announce in advance the identites of the Secretaries
of State, Defense, and Treasury, and the Attorney General? So instead,
we write the ML a de facto blank check and hope for the best. Would
anyone design such a system today if one had the luxury of writing on a
Mark is also suspicious of a new constitutional convention, also for
good reasons. So what his analysis adds up to, from my perspective, is
that we're stuck inside a truly dysfunctional and increasingly insidious
political system, one that no sane country designing a new constitution
would choose (or has chosen), but that there's nothing we can do about
it, in part because we don't really trust the possibility of "democracy
in America." Yet we have the effrontory to be engaged in a world-wide
effort to export "democracy" to countries that have, by any measure, far
fewer "democratic resources" (e.g.. Literacy, a relatively
well-functioning economy, civil society, etc.) than we do. Perhaps the
best advice is simply to tend our private gardens (how 'bout those
Rays?) and pray that there's no train wreck (however foreseeable one may
From: conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu
[mailto:conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu] On Behalf Of Mark Graber
Sent: Thursday, September 11, 2008 11:21 AM
To: CONLAWPROF at lists.ucla.edu
Subject: The Vice-Presidency, the Graber Equilibrium, and Selectingother
1. Let me propose a thesis that may appeal to persons of all political
persuasions on this list. Graber's Equilibrium holds that the combined
experiences of the presidential and vice-presidential candidates from
one party are likely to equal the combined experiences of the
presidential and vice-presidential candidates of the other party. The
presidential candidate perceived to be less experienced will tend to
choose a vice-president with cnsiderable experience to buck up the
ticket's credentials (viz. Carter, Reagan, Bush II). Experienced
presidential candidates will tend to choice an inexperienced vice
president to bring a fresh face into the race (viz, Mondale, Bush I,
Kerry, McCain) (interesting Clinton, a candidate of average experience
chose a VP, Gore, with average experience.
2. Let's assume that Graber's Equilibrium is right. The first
consequence is that Graber should get more respect from his children for
proposing this notion. The second consequence is that it is silly to
believe that McCain seriously thinks Palin is more qualified to be
president that about 100 other Republicans out there. He did what all
very political experienced candidates do, namely chose a very
inexperienced VP to inject a fresh face into the race. Persons on my
side of the fence may suggest that he dipped a little lower in the well
than others and that the entire practice was bad, but the evidence
indicates that McCain was engaged in a fairly standard practice dating
to about 1976. The third consequence is that Obama was acting as
politically as McCain, the difference being that his political needs
were different. Persons on my side of the fence might argue that in the
case of Obama, politics imposed a more virtuous choice on the
presidential candidate, but the p!
oint remains that politics rather than governance remains almost the
sole criteria for vice-presidential choices.
3. Does this not suggest that proposals to have presidential terms
begin immediately after the election promise, in the words of a frequent
contributor, a "train wreck." If I am right that the vice presidential
choice is driven purely by political considerations, would we not want a
constitutional system that minimizes the number of governing officials
the president must select before the election? Am I also right that
this argument would never play out in our present media environment,
that a constitutional convention would almost certainly result in a
worse state of affairs, increasing capacities to be elected at the
expense of capacities to govern.
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