Sunday, September 14, 2008

Obama Palin and the About to Die Argument

If one were to listen to the Democrats over the last couple weeks, you might conclude that Senator McCain is terribly ill just waiting for November or January to keel over. The line of attack is to tell voters that Sarah Palin will be president, and that she is not qualified for that job.

So for a moment lets ignore the morbid, and highly suspect premise of this argument. It's Palin v. Obama. It's a first term Governor v. a first term Senator. Both are short on foreign policy experience. They each have some experience, but not an extensive foreign policy record. Palin wins on executive experience; she's run a state, she has run a town; she's the commander-in-chief of the Alaska National Guard. What's particularly surprising is that Governor Palin has the edge of legislative achievements. This is an area that Senator Obama should win as his experience is almost completely in the legislative branch, yet he has no major pieces of legislation in his name in the U.S. or State Senate. It's not that he has no legislative experience but it is sparse and it is mainly on politically safe issues.

Palin's legislative accomplishments actually eclipse Obama's. She pushed through bipartisan ethics reform bill in Alaska. She passed a tax increase on oil company profits, and she enacted the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act (AGIA) to set up a natural gas pipeline in Alaska. She has taken on her own party in big ways by ousting two entrenched incumbants, resigning her post at the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission as a protest to 'lack of ethics', and opposed the reelection of Republicans Don Young and Ted Stevens because of ethics/corruption charges. Senator Obama does not have a bipartisan record, or a history of taking on his own party in any way.

So if Governor Palin were running for president I would have some doubts about her foreign policy experience, somewhat similar to those I have about Senator Obama's foreign policy experience. However, she's not running for president. Yes, it is possible that she could become president, but on the other hand Senator Obama would definitely be bringing a lack of foreign policy experience to the White House. If Governor Palin did have to take over the Presidency, her vice presidential experience would eclipse any experience Senator Obama now claims to have on foreign policy. The only way the Obama campaign has even the slightest opportunity to win the experience argument against Palin is to convince everyone McCain is on his last legs. Granted no one is guaranteed a particular life span, but this argument is a stretch and rather grim.

It is the team element of the Palin pick that makes McCain/Palin combination so strong. There is legislative and executive experience on the Republican ticket. There is a foreign policy expert, and there is an energy expert, they both have a history of working across party lines and battling corruption, there is military experience, there is 'beyond the beltway' experience. They both have a background and history of reform. On the Democratic side Obama chose an experienced Washington insider, who brings foreign policy experience, but dilutes the message of change. The match is awkward with the experienced candidate in the two slot and the novice at the top of the ticket. This has left the Obama campaign with the 'About to Die' argument leaving another ding in the 'politics of hope' mantra.

Obama Palin and the About to Die Argument

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