Even though this site is meant to focus on world affairs, I feel like the US presidential election is going to creep in from time to time… (like now).
It’s been three days since John McCain surprised everyone with his pick of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin for the VP slot on his ticket. Immediately the questions started flying on whether she had enough experience for the job (she has been Alaska’s governor for only two years), or more specifically if she had enough experience to step into the big job should something happen to McCain (more on this in a moment).
One retort was that along with being governor, Palin was also the commander of the Alaska National Guard (ANG for short). This was usually followed by a snicker of some sort since the ANG is usually not counted among the world’s elite military units. I have to admit I felt the same way, until reading this post.
It seems though that among the units in the ANG is the 49th Missile Defense Battalion based out of Fort Greeley, a key part of the “missile shield” covering America. They are the troops manning the interceptor rockets meant to protect the United States from ballistic missile attack from “rogue states”.
In other posts here, I’ve talked about how I think the missile interceptor program is a colossally dumb idea, so I won’t go into my objections again now. But the fact remains that President Bush doesn’t share my dim view on the missile shield and has made it a key component of the United States defense strategy. And the troops in charge of the interceptors are from the Alaska National Guard, Sarah Palin’s Alaska National Guard.
It’s one of the reasons why I don’t think the Left should be so giddy about Palin’s selection as VP. Arguing the experience angle is strange considering Barack Obama’s own lack of experience (he was only a United States Senator for about two years before deciding to run for president). In fact, early on his lack of experience was one of Obama’s selling points, he wasn’t “tainted” by the culture in Washington, so he was best positioned to change it (or so the argument went).
From an historic view, you could even argue that Palin’s two years as governor make her better prepared to be president than Obama’s time in the US Senate. Sixteen men have served as governors before becoming president, while only two have made the jump from the Senate to the White House. Why? Probably because like the President, governors have to make decisions, they are the ultimate authority (or as George W. Bush once infamously said “I am the decider”). The Senate, on the other hand, is built around coming to compromises and building consensus. There’s nothing wrong with that, it is why the Founding Fathers created the body in the first place, but it also doesn’t make for a decisive leader.
One final thought. By picking Palin, McCain boosted his image (whether it’s deserved or not) as a maverick. He selected someone with a record of taking on the power elite of her state (she beat Frank Murkowski, patriarch of one of Alaska’s most powerful political families on her way to the governor’s seat) and the oil and gas industry (the economic powerhouse of the state) as the person he felt best to be his partner in reforming Washington. By contrast Barack Obama thought Joe Biden, (someone I personally have great respect for) who’s been in the Senate since 1972, was the person best suited to bring change to Washington. Hmmm…
There’s still a long way to go before the election, and these are just a few random early thoughts. But I do think if Obama hopes to win in November, the Left needs to come up with some better arguments and do a better job in sticking with the message that has gotten them this far.
3 days ago