Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Experience Issue

The Left keeps harping on Sarah Palin's lack of qualifications to be "a heartbeat away from being president". When Republicans point out that their ticket has the experienced candidate on the top, the Left counter-charges that Obama's campaign is good enough.

Now, you could make the point that running a national campaign is a big job and should count as executive experience but that isn't what they mean. Newsweek's Johnathan Alter is typical:
Obama won 18 million votes, faced countless tough interviews and emerged with a reputation for fluency in discussing affairs of state, whatever one thinks of his politics. Palin's vote totals for mayor were measured in the hundreds; she has served only 20 months as governor of a state half the size of Brooklyn, and knows nothing of national or international issues beyond energy.
Part of this is easy to dismiss - Palin has served 20 months as governor, Obama has served 32 months as junior senator and spent most of it campaigning. If all you count is time in office then Obama is unqualified.

The size of the state is also relevant. Ross Perot pointed out in 1992 that Arkansas is a tiny state (although more populous than Alaska) and one of the poorest. Does Alter think that Clinton was unqualified?

Obama's credentials on foreign affairs are debatable. Alter is impressed. I am not. Obama was against the war with Iraq but has never said how Saddam should have been handled instead. He was against the surge. He spent part of the primary in a bidding war with Hillary over how fast they would pull our troops out of Iraq. He still has not admitted that we are winning.

He promises to get along better with other nations (Bush also promised to be more humble when dealing with the international community) but he has also caused concern with trading partners. He threatened to start bombing Pakistan (an ally and a nuclear power) while promising to meet with national leaders who want the destruction of the US. Most recently he seemed to be unaware that Russia has veto power in the UN Security Council. Obama talks a good game but has not shown any real depth.

And, it should be pointed out that presidential candidates seldom have any real foreign policy experience. The last one who did was George H. W. Bush (former ambassador and vice-president). Prior to that you have to go back to Nixon (former vice-president) and Ike. We often elect governors as our president, valuing executive experience over foreign affairs. Palin is just one more in that line and not even at the top of the ticket.

Obama has indicated that he would make up for his lack of foreign policy experience by leaning on Joe Biden. Biden, it will be remembered, was for chopping Iraq into three parts then abandoning it.

That leaves Obama's votes and his participation in debates as his qualification to be president. What this really means is that the voters looked at Obama's thin resume and decided that they wanted him anyway. It doesn't reflect anything exect his ability to sell himself.

Palin wasn't (and isn't) running for president so she didn't get any votes.

Biden did run. He came in 5th. In New Hampshire he got 638 votes. He got a consistent 1%-2% of the vote. This raises the question, how can someone who was rejected by 99% of the primary voters be qualified to be vice-president?

All of this is partisan bickering. The Left loves Obama so he must be qualified. They see Palin's lack of experience as a way to hurt McCain so she isn't qualified. It is as simple as that.

No comments: