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Palin Adds 1st Amendment to Her Constitution Woes

October 31, 2008

On the same day a new poll showed that 59% of Americans found her unqualified for the second highest office in the land, Republican Sarah Palin offered yet more confirmations of their wisdom. Palin, who on at least three occasions displayed a total ignorance of the constitutional role of the vice president, on Friday revealed that the First Amendment is alien to her as well.
Palin's latest unfortunate run-in with the United States Constitution came during an interview with conservative WMAL radio. Regurgitating her usual talking points against the "elitism" and "filter" of the "mainstream media," Palin coughed up this nugget:

"If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations," Palin told host Chris Plante, "then I don't know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media."

Sadly for the would-be vice president, the First Amendment protects the free speech rights of the American people - and their press - from infringement by the Government:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Palin's mangling of the document notwithstanding, nowhere in the text does the Constitution shield politicians from objective criticism of their myriad failings.
Every school child knows that. And in many cases, they have a much clearer picture than the Governor of Alaska just what it is the vice president does.
That was evident when Palin was that very question by a Colorado third grader during an interview with NBC affiliate KUSA:

Q: Brandon Garcia wants to know, "What does the Vice President do?"
PALIN: That's something that Piper would ask me!...[T]hey're in charge of the U.S. Senate so if they want to they can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes that will make life better for Brandon and his family and his classroom.

As Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid noted, the Constitution gives the Veep no such power:

"The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no vote, unless they be equally divided."

As it turns out, concerns over Sarah Palin's lack of readiness are not limited to the Democratic side of the aisle. Last month, GOP Senator Chuck Hagel of Iowa called it "a stretch" to claim "she's got the experience to be president of the United States." Endorsing Barack Obama for President, former Bush Secretary of State Colin Powell questioned John McCain's judgment in selecting her. And just today, Nevada Senator John Ensign, former Reagan Chief of Staff Ken Duberstein and former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger all pronounced Palin unqualified to take over for John McCain. (Not doubt facing a backlash from his right-wing fellow travelers, Eagleburger walked back his criticism this afternoon.)
With voters set to go to the polls in just four days, a clear consensus has emerged that John McCain's running mate is unfit for the second highest office in the land as described by the Constitution.
As her jaw-dropping comments today again showed, Sarah Palin would have done well to actually read the document.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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