Let’s take a look at vice presidential candidates and their experience before joining the ticket (excluding incumbent vice presidents):
2008: Joe Biden, six-term U.S. Senator.
Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska.
2004: John Edwards, U.S. Senator completing his first term, 2004 presidential candidate.
2000: Joe Lieberman, two-term U.S. Senator.
Dick Cheney, former U.S. Congressman, former Defense Secretary.
1996: Jack Kemp, former U.S. Congressman, former HUD Secretary.
1992: Al Gore, U.S. Senator, 1988 presidential candidate.
1988: Lloyd Bentsen, U.S. Senator.
Dan Quayle, U.S. Senator.
1984: Geraldine Ferraro, U.S. Congresswoman.
1980: George H.W. Bush, former U.S. Congressman, former head of CIA, former U.S. Ambassador to China.
1976: Bob Dole, U.S. Senator.
Fritz Mondale, U.S. Senator.
1972: Sargent Shriver, U.S. Ambassador to France.
1968: Spiro Agnew, first-term governor of Maryland.
Ed Muskie, U.S. Senator from Maine.
More here: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=93795663
At least seven of the men on this list were veteran Washington insiders when they ran for vice president. Any candidate who previously ran for president, such as Gore and Biden, would have been well-versed in policy issues that vice presidential candidates face. Members of Congress (Senate and House) also are privy to issues facing the nation. My point is that a state governor is really out of her league in terms of running for vice president on just a few days’ notice. There is just one other governor on this list. On Aug. 28, Sarah Palin was freshman governor of Alaska. On Aug. 29, she was the Republican candidate for vice president. That’s a big jump. Then she’s expected to digest all the policy minutiae of the McCain platform in time for no-holds-barred media interviews and a “World is Watching” debate just five weeks later? Of course Sen. Biden was smooth as silk in the debate. He had done about two dozen of them as a candidate for president. Of course he had done about 100 interviews after his selection by Sen. Barack Obama (D.-Ill.) as running mate. He has been a Senator for almost 36 years. He could do Meet the Press in his sleep! (And he probably has. Would anyone notice?)
I’m not sure what the expectations should be for someone thrust into her role so suddenly. Obviously, the expectation of the American people is that the vice president be able to succeed her boss, G-d forbid, on a moment’s notice if the president were unable to continue. That is her #1 job, one we hope she need not accept. But we want her to be ready. Back to the campaign. Is it reasonable to expect Gov. Palin to sit with a policy advisor for a couple of hours a day to learn the details of Sen. McCain’s policy stances on Iraq, taxes, the economic bailout, and health care? I wouldn’t expect Sen. McCain to know the peculiar details of Alaskan politics and be able to run for governor there. So maybe we should cut Gov. Palin some slack? Or maybe not? Maybe vice president is too big a role to trust to a maverick outsider from Alaska unfamiliar with national politics.