The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Friday, September 05, 2008


The pivotal Obama campaign talking point over the past few days is Sarah Palin’s “inexperience” coupled with the not-so-subtle implication that John McCain’s age makes her chances of becoming President non-trivial. They argue that Palin is "unqualified" and imply that McCain may die in office. On the other hand, they fervently believe (against all evidence to the contrary) that Barack Obama is experienced and qualified.

James Taranto makes a sardonic comment about McCain’s age and Palin’s “inexperience” when he writes:
If you're concerned about Sarah Palin's lack of experience, Politico's Alexander Burns has some numbers that ought to put your mind at ease:
For a man who has lived 72 years and 67 days (McCain's age on Election Day this year), there is between a 14.2 and 15.1 percent chance of dying before Inauguration Day 2013, according to the Social Security Administration's 2004 actuarial tables and the authoritative 2001 mortality statistics assembled by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

Going by the Social Security Administration's tables, that's nearly ten times the likelihood that a man aged 47 years and 92 days (Barack Obama's age on Election Day this year) will die before Jan. 20, 2013.

Let's take the average of the two figures and say that McCain has a 14.65% likelihood of dying before Inauguration Day 2013, while Obama's likelihood is 1.465%.

For the sake of argument, assume further that Joe Biden and John McCain are equally qualified to be president, and Sarah Palin is as unqualified as Barack Obama.

That means that if McCain is elected, there is better than an 85% chance that America will have a qualified president at the end of the term. If Obama is elected, the likelihood of having an unqualified president at term's end is higher than 98.5%.

Taranto is joking, of course, but it's still an interesting way to look at it.