Piling on

The average 72-year-old American male has about an 85% chance of surviving to 76-1/2. John McCain is a cancer survivor three times and has a variety of health issues resulting from his imprisonment, but as president he will get the best of health care (the kind uninsured people don’t get); let’s assume these balance out.

(Doris Kearns Goodwin just pointed out on MSNBC that one in five vice presidents have succeeded to the presidency following a death or resignation.)

He proposes to roll a die, and if it comes up 1, to put the country in the care of a nice young woman with a history of running a town of 8000 and, for about a year and a half, a rich state of less than a million people, with a unique and specialized economy of oil extraction and vacuuming money out of your pocket through Washington. By accepting a responsibility so far above her qualifications and experience, she instantly exposes some serious deficiencies in reality engagement, not realizing that she’s being used in a most cynical way.

The word reckless barely covers a bet like this (one in six is the odds in Russian Roulette with a conventional revolver, but in Russian Roulette you blow out your own brains, such as they are, not the welfare of a whole big country). Judgment? Puhleese!

Author: Michael O'Hare

Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Michael O'Hare was raised in New York City and trained at Harvard as an architect and structural engineer. Diverted from an honest career designing buildings by the offer of a job in which he could think about anything he wanted to and spend his time with very smart and curious young people, he fell among economists and such like, and continues to benefit from their generosity with on-the-job social science training. He has followed the process and principles of design into "nonphysical environments" such as production processes in organizations, regulation, and information management and published a variety of research in environmental policy, government policy towards the arts, and management, with special interests in energy, facility siting, information and perceptions in public choice and work environments, and policy design. His current research is focused on transportation biofuels and their effects on global land use, food security, and international trade; regulatory policy in the face of scientific uncertainty; and, after a three-decade hiatus, on NIMBY conflicts afflicting high speed rail right-of-way and nuclear waste disposal sites. He is also a regular writer on pedagogy, especially teaching in professional education, and co-edited the "Curriculum and Case Notes" section of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Between faculty appointments at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he was director of policy analysis at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He has had visiting appointments at Università Bocconi in Milan and the National University of Singapore and teaches regularly in the Goldman School's executive (mid-career) programs. At GSPP, O'Hare has taught a studio course in Program and Policy Design, Arts and Cultural Policy, Public Management, the pedagogy course for graduate student instructors, Quantitative Methods, Environmental Policy, and the introduction to public policy for its undergraduate minor, which he supervises. Generally, he considers himself the school's resident expert in any subject in which there is no such thing as real expertise (a recent project concerned the governance and design of California county fairs), but is secure in the distinction of being the only faculty member with a metal lathe in his basement and a 4×5 Ebony view camera. At the moment, he would rather be making something with his hands than writing this blurb.