Sarah Palin: Is she ready to lead?

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At the end of so many John McCain commercials the narrator asks of Barack Obama, "Is he ready to lead?"

Tables are turning now that McCain has selected Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to be his running mate. The very popular Governor from Alaska (approval ratings at 80 percent) has served in this capacity for less than two years.

Politico reports this morning that if the McCain/Palin ticket is successful, she would be the least-experienced person to fill the job in 100 years.

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With the vice president being one heartbeat away from the presidency, people are asking, "is she ready to lead?

New poll

In a USA Today/Gallup poll taken Friday, 39 percent say she's qualified to be president while 33 percent say she is not. Significant?

"That's the lowest vote of confidence in a running mate since the elder George Bush chose then-Indiana senator Dan Quayle to join his ticket in 1988," writes USA Today's Susan Page. "In comparison, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden was seen as qualified by 57%-18% after Democrat Barack Obama chose him as a running mate last week."

On the job training

In an exchange with Sean Holmes at FOX News yesterday, former vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp was posed the "is she ready to lead" question. Although clearly a supporter of Palin's, Kemp admitted there would be some learning on the job.

"Well, first of all we have a candidate in John McCain who knows an awful lot about foreign policy and national security," Kemp said. "He knows a lot. He's been spending a lot of time with her. She has met every challenge in her life. She's a smart, intelligent, capable, able, tough woman, and I am convinced that she is going to make a great candidate, and she will be up to speed necessary."

This is something that Newsweek's Jonathan Alter says just isn't realistic.

"The problem is that politics, like all professions, isn't as easy as it looks," he said. "Palin's odds of emerging unscathed this fall are slim. In fact, she's been all but set up for failure."

Caution: rough road ahead

Unavoidable gaffes. That's the prediction of The Atlantic's James Fallows. He says, unlike Obama running mate Joe Biden who has been in the Senate for 35 years, she's got zero ramp-up time. Could she be such a perfect fit for the job that she'll come away in the next two and half months unscathed? Fallows says no way.

"The smartest person in the world could not prepare quickly enough to know the pitfalls, and to sound confident while doing so, on all the issues she will be forced to address," he writes. "This is long before she gets to a debate with Biden; it's what the press is going to start out looking for."

Joan of Arc

"You just don't know her," say the fans of Palin. People always underestimated her and she's always risen to the challenge they say. In fact, the Anchorage Daily News called her "The Joan of Arc of Alaska Politics" this morning - which is a good thing...until the ending.

Palin marched, "into battle against long odds on such big local issues as oil taxes and construction of a natural gas pipeline only to see her opposition crumble," writes Tom Kizzia. "Days after her 2006 primary victory, an FBI investigation into political corruption involving the oil industry and Republican legislators burst into view with surprise raids of legislative offices. Criminal indictments and convictions followed, often just in time for the headlines to help her win another contest in Juneau."

Lightweight, Schmightweight

Monitor colleague Yereth Rosen reported back in 2006 that the "lightweight" charge is nothing new to Palin.

Hometown crowd

Do Alaskans feel she's up to the challenge? Like everything else, it depends on who you ask.

He underestimated her. That's what one former state legislator who lost to her in the 2006 gubernatorial Republican primary told the Anchorage Daily News.

"I think there will probably be a tendency for the Democrats to do the same thing," John Binkley said. "They will assume that her lack of experience on the national stage will put her at a disadvantage, and I'm not certain that will matter."

But State Senate President Lyda Green disagreed stating, "Look at what she's done to this state. What would she do to the nation?"

Is she or isn't she? With the media glare shining straight at her, we'll all have an opinion soon.

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