(Updated!) My latest FindLaw column (now posted here) explains why Sarah Palin's question -- "What is it exactly that the V.P. does every day?" -- is not quite so disqualifying for the job she now seeks as it at first appears. As far as the Constitution is concerned, the answer to Palin's question is, not very much. My column goes on to explain that modern VPs, pretty much beginning with Walter Mondale, have taken on a great deal of responsibility.
On reflection, therefore, Palin's question may well be disqualifying, but in a different way, for it shows that she has not been paying anything resembling close attention to how the government actually functions. How could anyone following national events for the last 7 and 3/4 years fail to notice that Dick Cheney is one of the most powerful people in America? One need not think (as I do not think) that Cheney was the "real" President, with Bush only the front man, to recognize that Cheney was the driving force on crucial decisions, including the most important domestic issue (prior to last week) and the most important foreign policy issue.
If the McCain/Palin campaign were to respond, I imagine that their spin would go something like this: Governor Palin is a Washington outsider. During the last 8 years, indeed for her entire adult life, she has been busy raising a family and serving her community and her state. Her lack of attention to the bickering in Washington is a qualification, not a flaw.
Nice try, but I don't buy it. Sure, the outsider card is a perennial winner. Both Obama and McCain are trying to play it themselves. However, it's one thing to say (whether truthfully or not) that you're not part of the Washington culture. It's quite another to admit that you don't have any idea how it works. Or to put the point as pungently as I can, if you want to clean out the Augean stables, you need to know where all the horse crap is.
So there. My column refers to urine ("warm bucket of piss") and now I've penned an accompanying blog entry referring to feces. My work is done.
Posted by Mike Dorf