Friday, September 19, 2008

On Sarah Palin's (and Joe Biden's) Foreign Policy Experience

Much has been made of Sarah Palin's lack of foreign policy experience. What no one seems to have noticed is that over the last 30-plus years, we have only elected one President--George H.W. Bush--that had any previous foreign policy experience. Four of the five Presidents that we have elected since 1976--Carter, Reagan, Clinton and Bush (George W.)--were governors with no foreign policy experience. That didn't stop those Presidents from achieving such foreign policy accomplishments as winning the Cold War, brokering the Camp David accords and ousting Saddam Hussein and the Taliban from power.

Joe Biden, on the other hand, is often said to have the most foreign policy experience of the major party candidates for President and Vice President. He has served in the Senate since 1972 (!) and chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. All of that experience, however, hasn't stopped him from being wrong on almost every major foreign policy issue he has ever weighed in on.

He opposed the Reagan military buildup policies that ultimately led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. He opposed the first Gulf War to expel Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. Although he voted in favor of the current Iraq War, he opposed the surge and pushed instead for a policy--vigorously denounced by virtually everyone in Iraq--to split Iraq into three pieces. Had Joe Biden been our Commander in Chief, we might still be engaged in a Cold War with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Saddam Hussein might be still alive and well and occupying Kuwait (if not Saudi Arabia as well). Biden is the guy that, according to Barack Obama, has "stared down dictators." Yeah, right.

Biden aborted his first campaign for President after he was charged with plagiarizing Neil Kinnock, Britain's leftist Labour Party leader at the time. Perhaps Biden could have demonstrated sounder judgment on foreign policy by instead plagiarizing Margaret Thatcher.

On foreign policy, Senate experience is fine, but I would much rather have someone with toughness, sound judgment, common sense and strong convictions. I see much more of that in Sarah Palin than I do in Joe Biden (or Barack Obama, for that matter).

Perhaps much of the anxiety that some feel over Palin is the fact that she's uncharted territory. Put aside for a second the fact that she's a woman. Think of Palin's unique mix of characteristics, for better or worse: Under 45, put on the ticket with less than two years' experience as a governor, avid outdoors enthusiast, member of the National Rifle Association, large family, reputation as a reformer unafraid to take on fellow Republicans. There's never been a major party candidate for Vice President with all of these characteristics. Well, actually there has been. His name was Teddy Roosevelt. If we could put Teddy Roosevelt in a time machine and insert him into the current race, he would make a much better choice for Commander in Chief than Joe Biden. And so would Sarah Palin.


Anonymous said...

There is no comparison between the two. Sarah was mayor of a suburban bedroom community of 7200. She was undistinguished in that role. She won an election in Alaska 20 months ago. How's that demonstrate "toughness"? Unless you're counting her using her public position to pursue her personal vendettas. She's a know-nothing, an empty skirt who can deliver a speech.

By the way, I used to live in Alaska, and every single person I know there is scared to death at the prospect of Sarah being one aged heartbeat away from the presidency of the United States.

Sad Commentary said...

Every person you know in Alaska may be scared to death of Palin becoming VP, but is it possible that the people you know are not a representative sample? Her approval rating up there is through the roof, although she certainly was not afraid to make enemies. Palin's mettle will certainly be tested during this campaign; you're betting against her and I'm not. I stick to my point, however, that we have elected many presidents from both parties with no foreign policy experience. That's why I'm more concerned with the principles that form the basis of her foreign policy than with how many receptions she's attended with world leaders. And I remain totally unimpressed by Joe Biden.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I'm not willing to take such a gamble. She is a whacko who wants creationism taught in the schools. She has praised the Alaska Independence Party, as recently as six months ago at their convention, and exhorted them to "keep up the good work," even though they openly espouse hatred of America. She has abused her public position to settle personal scores on more than one occasion, and has viciously attempted to stifle anyone with a dissenting view. You are not alone, however, in your infatuation with her. She is attractive and appears to have great potential. Take it from me, and from my nonrepresentative sample of hundreds of Alaskans who have seen her up close: the more you and the rest of the American people get to know Sarah Palin, the more you will realize you are being sold a bill of goods.

And with all due respect, your comparison of Palin with Teddy Roosevelt is not apt in the slightest. TR was a war hero, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and Governor of New York State before he was elected VP. Prior to his political career, he was a noted historian, author and naturalist. He excelled because of his intellect, discipline and determination. You could predict his greatness as a president by his prior accomplishments, and by his egalitarianism. Can you say the same for Palin?

Sad Commentary said...

Noni, I believe that most of these charges against Sarah Palin have been debunked.

I take your points on TR. Let me clarify that I was not suggesting that Sarah Palin is as good as TR. I hope that she will eventually soar that high, but she has not had the chance to do so yet. I was simply saying that either TR or Sarah Palin would be better than Joe Biden. Putting aside time or nationality, I would pick TR or Margaret Thatcher over Palin, whom I would pick over Neil Kinnock, whom I would pick over Biden.

Lil' Hammerhead said...

I've great disagreements where McCain's postitions are concerned, however, I do not have any qualms that he is qualified to hold the post. The same applies to Obama and Biden. Palin, however, has shown she does not have the capacity to be President. Under other circumstances, I wouldn't worry too much, but considering the fact that McCain is 72 with a history of cancer.. well, she becomes worrisome.

And it's not a policy or gender issue either. Hillary would be capable,Romney would be capable, among others.

Palin is green beyond just basic "experience". She is seemingly devoid of the ability to think beyond her practice-sheet and obviously has little knowledge about the greater world around her.