Sorry for the light blogging this weekend; real life kept intervening, dagnabbit.
Anyway, this whole "are you experienced" issue between the McCain and Obama camps is getting tiresome and, with the appearance of Sarah Palin on the scene, confusing. To set the stage, let’s recap:
First, the Obama campaign says we are not to worry about the Prophet Barack’s lack of on the job experience, because his superior judgement will be all that’s needed. Meanwhile, the McCain campaign, conservative pundits, and Center-Right bloggers have countered that, in these dangerous times, we need someone with a lot of experience, especially in foreign affairs and questions of war and peace. Indeed, with my primary concern being foreign affairs and national security, this argument is one reason among many that I plan to vote for McCain.
So, just to throw a monkey-wrench into the machine, McCain then picks as his running-mate a woman who’s early in her first term as governor and, prior to that, had executive experience only as mayor of a small town and running her own business. Doesn’t that make hash of the "inexperienced" argument against the Harbinger of Hope, Change, and Waffles? In fact, the Obama camp wasted no time going after her on that very issue:
Today, John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency.
You have to admit, the Obama people have chutzpah.
Here’s my take on "experience." First, it’s hard to argue that Obama is too inexperienced. After all, Abraham Lincoln, while a national figure prior to his election, had only served one term as a congressman and had only a few months of militia experience. Yet he did pretty well guiding the nation through its greatest crisis. So that argument shouldn’t be overemphasized. I prefer McCain not because Obama is inexperienced, but because McCain has for more and far more relevant experience.
But what about Palin? Well, first let us be amused by the fact that the Obama campaign is clearly so concerned that their candidate for president looks inexperienced that they’re attacking the other side’s vice-presidential candidate. That has to be embarrassing, if they’d only stop to think about it.
Frankly, I think she’s more experienced than a lot of candidates for vice-president: granted, she’s only been governor for two years and, as mayor of Wasilla she ran a small town, still the executive experience she gained from those two jobs is more than Obama and Biden have combined. And Alaska is a major energy-producing state: dealing every day with oil and gas companies, conservation groups, and the federal government (which owns much of Alaska), she’s had to make plenty of decisions.
She’s even had relevant experience as commander in chief: the Alaska governor is the commander of the state’s national guard, and it shouldn’t be forgotten that Alaska borders two foreign countries, one of which, Russia, has a history of hostility toward the US and is again growing hostile. Jonah Goldberg relates a letter he received testifying to Palin’s commander-in-chief resume:
Before you dismiss that Commander of the Alaska National Guard stuff. This came from a reader who plays the game and it jibes with my knowledge.
Alaska is the first line of defense in our missile interceptor defense system. The 49th Missile Defense Battalion of the Alaska National Guard is the unit that protects the entire nation from ballistic missile attacks. It’s on permanent active duty, unlike other Guard units.
As governor of Alaska, Palin is briefed on highly classified military issues, homeland security, and counterterrorism. Her exposure to classified material may rival even Biden’s.
She’s also the commander in chief of the Alaska State Defense Force (ASDF), a federally recognized militia incorporated into Homeland Security’s counterterrorism plans.
Palin is privy to military and intelligence secrets that are vital to the entire country’s defense. Given Alaska’s proximity to Russia, she may have security clearances we don’t even know about.
According to the Washington Post, she first met with McCain in February, but nobody ever found out. This is a woman used to keeping secrets.
She can be entrusted with our national security, because she already is.
So, I think Palin has plenty of experience, even compared to Obama. But, as I said, it shouldn’t be overemphasized, for experience doesn’t necessarily predict how that person will perform in office: Jimmy Carter was a trained nuclear submariner, but he also turned out to be one of our worst presidents. Character matters more than experience and, in my opinion, McCain-Palin far outshines Obama-Biden on issues of character.
But that’s an essay for another day.
Oh, and as a reward for working your way through this entry, please enjoy the obligatory Sarah Palin beauty-queen photo:
Eat your heart out, Joe Biden.
LINKS: John Steele Gordon makes some of the same points as I do and mentions two other examples of inexperienced VPs who turned out OK: Harry Truman and Theodore Roosevelt.
Technorati tags: Sarah Palin
, Joe Biden
, Barack Obama
, John McCain
, commander in chief
, Miss Wasilla
, National Guard
, Alaska State Defense Force