Aug 31 2008

Complaints from the Right about Gov. Palin’s nomination

Category: Biden,economy,election 2008,McCain,Obama,Palin,politics,White Househarmonicminer @ 9:20 am

This fairly mild criticism from Powerline assumes “facts not in evidence” about the nature of economic knowledge required by a President, or Vice-President:

When I traveled with Senator McCain last November, just about the first question he answered was, what will you look for in a running mate. McCain responded that, first and foremost, he would want someone already qualfied to be president. Second, he said that because the economy is not his strong-suit, he would want someone with strong expertise in this area.

McCain did not say he wanted someone who would appeal to a potentially disaffected constituency within the Democratic party, or call attention (in an ironic way) to the inexperience of the Democratic nominee, or make such a splash as to counteract any Democratic convention bounce, or create a contrast to the Democratic vice presidential nominee, or “shake up” the Republican party, or “freshen up” the ticket, or reinforce his image as an opponent of corruption.

From the Left, such a criticism of Obama makes some sense, because the Left believes in complicated, frighteningly sophisticated economic models that supposedly allow the government appointed economic elites to tinker with the economy in the just the right way to make everything come out right.  These are essentially rooted in Keynes and Galbraith, both liberal progressive icons, because they are thought to have described a way to combine markets and capitalism with government management of the economy. Leaving out the fact the no one in the world knows enough to do such a thing, at least criticism of Obama makes sense, to the effect that he doesn’t know enough about economics to be President (economics of the liberal progressive brand, that is). Obama surely doesn’t have a detailed background in these matters, and so will be totally dependent on his advisers, economic rasputins all.

Does it make sense to level a similar criticism at Sarah Palin?

In a word, no. Here’s why.

Economics as understood from the right does not require a President who is deeply versed in complicated theories of market manipulation, and academic theories of how to rob Peter and pay Paul to make us all better off. It requires a President who knows enough to avoid wasteful spending, to keep taxes low, to keep regulation to a minimum, to encourage the development of energy resources, to remove as many barriers to free trading as possible, etc. It is not complex, and mostly requires a President who will avoid doing harm, supported by advisers who can help with the details.

Arguably, Sarah Palin has far more background in economic management than Obama, because in her executive roles she has cut taxes and spending. It is not complicated, and her behavior in office tells us all we really need to know about her economic background and perspectives, which is more than sufficient.  It is not an overstretch to say that if Congress had spent the last 8 years voting to do the sorts of things Palin has advocated, and has done as governor, we would all be in far better shape economically.  In fact, it’s more likely that the Congress would still be Republican.

So who, exactly, is unqualified here?

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