Saturday, August 30, 2008

Palin - are we going to need her?

Via AnnaMarieCox
Charlie Black: She’s going to learn national security at the foot of the master for the next four years, and most doctors think that he’ll be around at least that long.

O.K. - let's get it out on the table. What is the probability that John McCain is going to die in office? What does it mean if 'most doctors' think he'll be around that long? And what evidence are they basing it on?

I refuse to make a guess about McCain's health. I don't have enough data. Here's what I do know:

Died in office

  1. William Henry Harrison (1841)
  2. Zachary Taylor (1850)
  3. Abraham Lincoln (1865, assassinated)
  4. James Garfield (1881, assassinated)
  5. William McKinley (1901, assassinated)
  6. Warren G. Harding (1923)
  7. Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1945)
  8. John F. Kennedy (1963, assassinated)
WAIT WAIT! You say, what makes you think the death rate for presidents will stay the same? Not much. Harding's pneumonia or heart attack would be treatable today. FDR's cerebral hemorrhage... maybe, maybe not. Again, we don't know enough about McCain's medical condition. We might think we've upped security around the president, but then it's not like other presidents felt insecure. Let's agree that the odds of presidential death might be 10 times higher or lower than the historical average, but let's calculate it first:

8/44 = 18.2%

I guess it can't be 10 times higher. But even if the risk of death in office is 1.82%, that's still very high. If we're good Republicans, then we believe Dick Cheney's 1% doctrine:

Cheney observed that the US had to confront a new type of threat, a "low-probability, high-impact event" as he described it, "If there's a 1% chance that Pakistani scientists are helping al-Qaeda build or develop a nuclear weapon, we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response. It's not about our analysis ... It's about our response."

Is there a 1% chance that John McCain will die in office? Yes. Then Republicans should treat it as a certainty. And get Sarah Palin off the ticket.

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