Thursday, September 4, 2008

Vice & Vice Presidential Picks

So we now know who Barack Obama and John McCain have selected to be their running mates, and in keeping with a post I wrote back in the summer concerning the gambling habits of both candidates, their selections seem to fit the mode.

The casino craps player is a social animal, a thrill seeker who wants not just to win but to win with a crowd. Unlike cards or a roulette wheel, well-thrown dice reward most everyone on the rail, yielding a collective yawp that drowns out the slots. It is a game for showmen, Hollywood stars and basketball legends with girls on their arms. It is also a favorite pastime of the presumptive Republican nominee for President, John McCain.

The backroom poker player, on the other hand, is more cautious and self-absorbed. Card games may be social, but they are played in solitude. No need for drama. The quiet card counter is king, and only a novice banks on luck. In this game, a good bluff trumps blind faith, and the studied observer beats the showman. So it is fitting that the presumptive Democratic nominee, Barack Obama, raked in so many pots in his late-night games with political friends.
I think the selections of Sen. Joe Biden and Gov. Sarah Palin as the Vice Presidential candidates reflect those gaming preferences to a "T".

From a crime standpoint the question is where do Biden and Palin stand on the major crime issues of the day. Crime and Consequences sheds some light.

The Pewsitter website has a set of quotes from Gov. Sarah Palin, including this one from her 2006 campaign site:

"I support adequate funding for a strong public safety presence in Alaska. Feeling safe in our communities is something we cannot accept any compromise on. This includes policing in all its forms, the court system, prosecutors and corrections. If the legislature passed a death penalty law, I would sign it. We have a right to know that someone who rapes and murders a child or kills an innocent person in a drive by shooting will never be able to do that again."

Sen. Joseph Biden has a record that is decidedly mixed. He had a leading role in the enactment of what is arguably the most notorious sentencing law in modern American history, the law that makes possession of 5 grams of crack cocaine a more serious offense than possession of 499 grams of powder[...] Sen. Biden also had a leading role in the enactment of the federal death penalty law. The law restored the death penalty for a wide variety of offenses.
We discuss the monstrous Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (subtitled the "Biden Crime Law") in both Punishment and Criminology and the effect it has had on our prison system since. I believe Biden mentioned it in his acceptance speech and took credit for "8 years of falling crime rates" as a result.

Palin is more of a blank slate on these issues, but there is no reason to believe she would deviate from the RNC Platform adopted which calls for longer sentences, mandatory minimums, more death penalty crimes, and the like.

I don't think the death penalty will be an issue this year, as all four candidates support it, and the crime issue in general seems neutralized by the War on Terror, the economy and a host of other issues.

But given the guaranteed winning track record of the "get tough on crime" approach from the past two decades, I wouldn't rule out a good old fashioned "crime scare" from either party.

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