Saturday, August 30, 2008

The unbearably light qualifications of Sarah Palin

Sarah who? Let's see how the right wingers and their pundit friends in the mainstream media make excuses or other justifications for John McCain's vice presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska.

The core of their critique against Obama has been his age and his experience. the choice of Palin is acutely hypocritical, as she is 44 years of age, compared to Obama's 47 years. Her experience at major levels of government is thinner than that of Obama's. He had been in the Illinois Senate for eight years and by the end of this year will have been in the U.S. Senate for four years, specifically, since January, 2005. Again, by contrast, Palin's government resume, before assuming the Alaska governorship in December, 2006, consisted of being mayor of Wasilla, what wikipedia contributors gushingly called Alaska's "fastest growing community," population, 8,000. It is a galling double standard for anyone to criticize Obama for his experience and at the same time tout the qualifications of Palin, who just entered the governor's office less than two years ago.

Of course, Democrats cannot become too sanguine over McCain's disastrously clumsy choice. Recall Dan Quayle; his verbal gaffes and his calamitous debate face-off with Lloyd Bentsen led many Democrats to think that he would surely sink George H.W. Bush's 1988 candidacy. We should think again, and not let up on underscoring how the Obama-Biden ticket is more mature, more contemplative and more responsible than this cynical McCain-Palin pairing.

Christopher Hayes of the Nation reminds us today that the Associated Press reported that Sarah Palin was a Pat Buchanan supporter in his presidential bid. The AP reported that she was among Buchanan supporters in a 1999 campaign gathering in Alaska:
"Pat Buchanan brought his conservative message of a smaller government and an America First foreign policy to Fairbanks and Wasilla on Friday as he continued a campaign swing through Alaska. Buchanan's strong message championing states rights resonated with the roughly 85 people gathered for an Interior Republican luncheon in Fairbanks. … Among those sporting Buchanan buttons were Wasilla Mayor Sarah Palin and state Sen. Jerry Ward, R-Anchorage."

In an August 29, 2008 appearance on "Hardball with Chris Matthews" Buchanan confirmed that she supported him for president.

Other veteran Republican elected officials must feel insulted by McCain's choice of Palin. Couldn't he have selected a Republican woman who was not a Buchanan supporter? She has zero foreign policy credentials. Couldn't he have selected a Republican woman who has experience and an education in foreign policy? As several pundits and blogs have opined, McCain's choice of Palin is shallow, rank tokenism.

With much of the nation fixated on foreign policy issues, perhaps we should reconsider the tendency to so quickly gravitate towards emphasizing presidential and vice-presidential candidates with gubernatorial experience. An exclusively state level-oriented resume usually indicates far less foreign policy expertise than Senate or U.S. House experience does.

No comments: