Friday, August 29, 2008

A 72-year-old heartbeat away

One of the problems Sen. Obama faces as a result of picking Sen. Biden as his running mate is that it somewhat undermines his ability to run as the candidate who displayed the better judgment on the crucial issue of our time: the decision whether to go to war in Iraq. If voting for the war displayed bad judgment--as Obama says, and I agree, it did--then why did Obama pick a running mate who, like Sen. McCain, supported the war?

To finesse this question, the Obama campaign can distinguish the relative enthusiasm of Biden and McCain. Biden says he supported giving Bush the authority to pressure Saddam, whereas McCain was gung ho for the invasion, and only started criticizing the Bush Administration's execution of the war well after the insurgency was established. These are legitimate distinctions but they don't entirely erase the challenge that picking Biden poses for Obama's foreign policy judgment argument.

Still, if Obama faces a hurdle in making his argument, McCain would now appear to face a mountain. His main point of attack against Obama has been that Obama is not ready to be Commander in Chief because Obama has not had the kind or extent of experience that McCain has. But Obama has much much more foreign policy experience than the person McCain thinks best qualified to serve if he cannot. Obama has served nearly 4 years on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Until December 2006, Gov. Palin was mayor of a town of 6,500 people, and the McCain campaign is now touting the fact that she is the head of the Alaska National Guard as governor.

Or maybe that does count as crucial experience if you plan to ignite a war with Russia. Alaska would be on the front lines.

Posted by Mike Dorf