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Differentiating Experience from Talent: Sarah Palin

When John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his candidate for Vice President of the United States of America, my first thought was that it had to be an erroneous report. There was no way that McCain had actually picked someone so utterly unqualified for the job as measured by traditional political capital.

However, there is a small, perhaps imperceptible, chance that the McCain people are on to something vaguely genius. The potential explanation for why lies in sports, basketball especially.

Experience is only an indicator. Talent and ability are what matter.

There are many reasons to dismiss Sarah Palin as an awful choice for McCain's Vice President, chief among them that balancing the ticket ideologically seems likely to encourage tension, Bartlett-Hoynes style, whereas matching ideologies seems to lead to public harmony (Clinton-Gore) or total harmony (Bush-Cheney). This dilemma comes up all the time in the NBA, and by and large, the reasoning for balancing the roster comes from the same fractured reasoning that dictates the ticket must be balanced: it seems like it should work.

Nothing McCain can do will make me vote for him, so the pick is moot, but for those folks who are considering whether to vote for Obama-Biden or McCain-Palin, I urge you to ignore all the jackasses who will tell you that Obama sucks because he hasn't done anything, or Palin sucks because she hasn't governed anything of serious consequence for an extended time.

Who would you rather have on your basketball team: Kyle Korver or JJ Redick? There are several dozen reasons you should choose Korver over Redick, but the least effective argument is that Korver has more experience. That he has more experience is indicative of his superior talents and abilities, but the reason you'd choose Ashton Kutcher is because he's the better shooter, better passer, and better defender, not because he's been in the league three more years than the collar popper.

Thus it is with Palin. Her severe lack of experience in government is decidedly not indicative of great talent, but there's no telling if the talent simply hasn't been properly accounted for. Let's stick to parsing her demonstrated actions and views instead of using her lack of experience as a cheap proxy.

(Final Thought: Political pundits have overused the word "maverick". It no longer has any meaning, especially as applied to John McCain, who is as much a party man as Obama is.