Commander in Teeth?

by robertmcnicol

So y’all know that I’m like a SUPER BIG fan of the American election and the hours of joy it has given me are endless. And the latest twist and turn is the surprise entrance of a certain former beauty queen and gun-toting mooseburger-eating capital-punishment-endorsing hockey mom with amazing teeth.

None of the pundits really thought it would happen; they thought it would be Mitt or, in their wildest dreams, Lieberman. So now, naturally, they’re all saying with one voice that This Was The Biggest Veep-pick Cock-up EVER.

So, okay, let’s be mildly serious for a moment and take a moment to recognise the minor breakthrough that is (a) the second ever woman on a ticket for one of the two major US political parties; (b) the first one for the GOP and (c) … sorry, can’t remember c – too distracted by those teeth.

Some mileage in the past has been made of the Obama/McCain contest bearing some vague resemblance to that depicted in series 7 of the West Wing. I’d like to posit a similar similarity – between Mrs Palin and a certain, fictional, Mackenzie Allen.

Back in 2005 when a female President seemed like a reasonable possibility, some bright spark in tellyland decided to out-West Wing the West Wing and make a drama about the first female VP who ascends to the throne after the death of the incumbent (old, populist, party grandee) president following a stroke. President Allen is played in all her cardboard finery by a certain Geena Davis. You remember – she was in Thelma & Louise. No? Alright then, she was in the Stuart Little films with that mouse that just keeps on not dying. Yes, all three of them. Here she is, on the left:

Anyway, so I hate it when this happens, but in “researching” this post i discovered my point has been beaten to. So hats off to the good folk at the Miami Herald. The gits.

Let’s take a minor side-step here then and pretend that I haven’t in any way lost my train of thought. Our stunned pundits are all very concerned that Mrs Palin has hardly a jot of foreign policy exerience and that she could actually become president if John “two consecutive Cs in my surname” McCain (a) gets elected and (b) dies before 2013. What are the chances? Well, (a) about 42% (possibly) and (b) I’d say about 21%.

You see, nine US Presidents have been Veeps who’ve taken over following the death or resignation of the incumbent. (Four of those incumbents were assassinated (a twix to the first person who tells me the full names of the other two, i.e. not Abe or JFK); four died of more natural causes and Tricky Dicky resigned.) So nine as a percentage of 43 is about 21%. There is, in other words, half as much chance of Palin becoming President as there is of McCain doing so.

Actually, that’s not true because the latter relies on the former. So there’s about 9% chance of her doing so. Damn, that doesn’t sound as good. Hang on, there’s one thing I’m forgetting that may just tip the balance…