Saturday, October 25, 2008

Succession Worries, Palin, McCain, Lieberman, Four Reporters in Five Acts

Most reporters in Connecticut appear to think that John McCain, should he buck the odds and become president, will die in office approximately 30 seconds after he has been sworn in, leaving Vice President Sarah Palin to discharge the awesome duties of the presidency.

They speculate that she will not be up to the task, and four of them, according to a report in the Hartford Courant by Mark Pazniokas, have brought their worries to Sen. Joe Lieberman, a McCain supporter.

Lieberman consulted some actuaries and told the reporters that reports of McCain’s imminent demise, to paraphrase Mark Twain, have been greatly exaggerated.

Naturally, this did not convince the reporters.

“Lieberman initially sidestepped a question about Palin's readiness to be president on day one.

"’She's not going to have to be president from day one because McCain is going to be alive and well. I've been talking to actuaries and doctors,’ Lieberman said. ‘He can be expected to live to his mid-80s and probably longer.’

“When pressed about when she would be ready, Lieberman replied, ‘Well, let's hope she never has to be ready.’

“He laughed, then quickly added, ‘Because we hope McCain is elected and lives out his term.’”

Historians might tend to agree with Lieberman.

Here is a list of US Presidents who have died in office, what they died of, and their ages at the time of their demise:

William Henry Harrison -- Pneumonia and Pleurisy -- age 68

Zachary Taylor -- Bad cherries and milk – age 65

Abraham Lincoln -- Assassinated by John Wilkes Booth – age 56

James A. Garfield -- Assassinated by Charles Julius Guiteau -- age 49

William McKinley -- Assassinated by Leon Frank Czolgosz -- age 58

Warren G. Harding -- Heart attack, some speculation of murder age 57

Franklin Delano Roosevelt -- Cerebral hemorrhage age 63

John Fitzgerald Kennedy -- Assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald – age 46

Everything of course is relative, but most of the presidents whose terms in office were interrupted by death were, relatively speaking, young. In every case, the Vice presidents had some time in office to prepare themselves for their presidential journeys.

The dream of the anti-Palin crowd that McCain, upon assuming office, will take his leave in so short a time that Palin will not be able to assume office and discharge her responsibilities with the same energy and dispatch as, say, Harry Truman, is pretty far fetched. Actuaries would bet against it.

Yet his notion has become standard fare among reporters who want Democrat presidential nominee Barrack Obama as president and who are unwilling to examine the possibility that Obama – verily a heart beat from the presidency – may not be ready to assume these grave responsibilities at such a dangerous moment in US history.

Which is, come to think of it, is precisely the argument Lieberman presented to the four reporters of the apocalypse, whose names, for some unaccountable reason, Pazniokas does not mention in his story.

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