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

41 comments:

Larry H. said...

Very interesting points.

Biden is on the record in November 2005 as having said the Iraq War was a mistake. He said it within a couple weeks of Edwards admitting it was a mistake. I think that goes a long way in allaying the concern about Biden's initial support of the AUMF.

While I agree it appears McCain can't continue to attack Obama for lack of experience, isn't it risky for Obama to attack McCain for picking an inexperienced VP candidate? I have to wonder whether Obama's attacks on Palin may backfire, and may highlight his own inexperience. But it looks like Obama owns the frame at the moment.

How did I miss that you and Sherry both took positions at Cornell? Allow me to offer belated, but sincere congratulations on the move!

Nick said...

Well there is a big difference between having the top of your ticket with little experience (i.e. Obama) and the bottom having little (i.e. Palin). No doubt Dems like Paul Begala will raise similar complaints as Mike, but in the end, Obama's lack of experience will play much louder than Palin's since you don't vote for the Number 2 (when was the last time a number two won or lost an election?). People who vote on "experience" (usually code for foreign affairs/national security) see McCain as the more experienced candidate based on his political career and personal history. Obama's 2 years in the Senate doesn't come close. Not to say this should be why people vote for or against a candidate, but I don't think Palin hurts McCain on this count as much as Biden hurt's Obama. (Obama's selection all but admits his inexperience in foreign affairs, whereas McCain can say I have enough)

McCain is still a longshot to win (as he should be given the recent stupidity of the GOP and GWB), but his pick was very savvy. Among other things, the pick (1) allows him to appeal to moderate women more easily (i.e. those who may have considered voting for Clinton); (2) it allows him to appear to be a maverick by selecting a washington outsider even though from all appearances she is a hard-line conservative (the GOP base is very happy with the pick); and (3) it may be able to limit how much/hard Biden can attack her in the debates. After all, Obama's mild attacks on Clinton were seen by some (though not me) to be sexist, and Clinton isn't exactly the most likeable lady. Palin, in contrast, is, from all appearances, an attractive, sweet, mother of five (one who is serving overseas) who comes across very well and not as politically calculated as Clinton. I can't imagine overly-harsh attacks will go over that well.

Craig J. Albert said...

I think that the choice underscores John McCain's confidence. He plainly feels that he's not going to die in the next four years, and we need that kind of optimism.

Larry H. said...

McCain's optimism is one thing, his being delusional is another. A 72-year-old man, who has had four melanomas since 1993, has a history of basel cell carcinoma, and is at risk for other cancers, should be aware of his mortality and account for that in his choice of a VP. Eight years of delusional thinking--e.g., Saddam has WMDs, invasion will be a cakewalk, we'll be greeted as liberators, the oil revenues will more than pay for the invasion, we don't torture our prisoners--is enough.

Sobek said...

"Still, if Obama faces a hurdle in making his argument, McCain would now appear to face a mountain."

You're joking, right?

You do realize that Obama is running for the top of the ticket, while Palin is going for Veep, right? And that of Obama's four years of "experience" in the Senate, almost seventy-five percent of that time was spent running for President, rather than working as a Senator, right? And that governors, unlike legislators, have to make actual decisions and run things, right? And that Palin has more executive experience than Obama and Biden combined, right?

You really think McCain has a tougher experience argument than Obama?

Paul said...

You do realize the point of the title, right? Unlike Obama, I think it is not unreasonable to think McCain might not make it through his 4-years.

In any event, I find the entire "experience" thing - whether applied to Obama or to Palin - foolish, at least on any substantive grounds. I think Bill Clinton - even though his motives for saying it are questionable - almost certainly got it right when he said something to the effect of "I don't think anyone can really be ready to be President."

Obama and McCain both have the backing of huge political parties which collectively have all the "experience" anyone could need. It is not as if the President personally oversees the operation of the government. A smart person with good judgment are likely the only substantive qualities needed in a president. All four people on both tickets likely meet this (I really know nothing about Palin, so I could be wrong there).

I have always viewed "experience" as meaning - does person X have the connections in Washington to effectuate his or her policy goals? Again, with the possible exception of Palin, that is clearly possessed by all members running.

I'll be very disappointed if a person wanting to continue the policies of the Bush administration gets elected. But if he does and then dies a day after taking office, I will have no concern that Palin will cause America to suffer for lack of experience. I expect she would cause America to suffer for entirely unrelated reasons, but being a neophyte won't concern me. It shouldn't concern any of you either. If you purport to let experience bother you, it is likely that the "inexperienced" person bothers you for other reasons and you are just being disingenuous about your real objection.

Patrick S. O'Donnell said...

The title of the post says it all.

Plain and simple, this was a ridiculous choice for VP. I certainly have a hard time imagining Palin being President, should the need arise, and one would think that is a scenario worthy of serious consideration.

Secondly, how could the choice of Palin appeal to disenchanted Hilary Clinton supporters? Simply because she is a woman? As my wife said this evening, that is rather insulting and patronizing at best. Palin's politics are no where close to Clinton's yet Hilary's supporters are to find her appealing? I don't get it.

Her selection is further evidence of McCain's lack of good judgment (if he himself chose her or if he deferred to the advice of others). There must be other conservative women (e.g., Elizabeth Dole) who are also conservative and far more qualified than Sarah Palin.

Hazel Bonner said...

Environmentalists decry the selection of Sarah Pahlin. With a husband who works for BP she has shown that she has no care for the environment.
She wants drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge and the gunning down of wolves in her home state.
We decry the selection of Sarah Pahline, in the first choice of his Republican campaign. Because of that we simply have to declare war on the Republican campaign.
Hazel Bonner
Board of Prairie Hills Audubon Society
PO Box 3712
Rapid City, SD, 57709-3712
bonpidge@gwtc.net

Jamison Colburn said...

As a former Massachusetts resident, I am personally offended by this choice--on behalf of Mitt Romney. Romney got millions of votes in the primaries and this is just a slap in the face to his millions of supporters! (And, incidentally, I second the point on the two or three environmental voters McCain had and just lost.) ;)

SJW said...

Hillary needs to distinguish herself from Palin and point out Palin's weaknesses as soon as possible. The sooner she does this, the better it is for herself, Bill Clinton, Obama, Biden, and the Democrats.

Sobek said...

Paul said: "You do realize the point of the title, right?"

Yes. If McCain wins, he might die, in spite of having the best health care in the entire world and near-constant medical monitoring. But until such an unlikely event happens, Palin would be in the Veep chair, gaining experience.

If Obama wins, he might die (hey, anything's possible), but it's extremely unlikely because he's young and healthy. In other words, it's an absolute certainty that his inexperience would be a factor, contrasted with nothing more than speculation (wishful thinking?) about Palin.

In any event, you seem to disagree with Prof. Dorf on the substance of his fears, so I'll not insist that you defend it.

Patrick said: "I certainly have a hard time imagining Palin being President..."

So what? The limits of your imagination aren't a litmus test for the Presidency. According to at least some people, experience is (unless it's CNN discussing Tim Kaine, for example. Or, you know, Barack Obama).

"Secondly, how could the choice of Palin appeal to disenchanted Hilary Clinton supporters?"

Honestly I don't know -- the idea seems kind of silly to me, actually, unless you first posit that Democratic voters like to vote identity politics or something. Still, here's one vote McCain just earned:

http://www.reclusiveleftist.com/2008/08/29/i-knew-it-i-knew-it-i-knew-it/

Here's a bunch more, from a Clinton voters forum:

http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2008_08_24-2008_08_30.shtml#1220031014

Again, I think it's ridiculous. I don't care how much a candidate looks like me, only how much he or she will act the way I want them to. But I guess if you build your entire party platform about identity groups...

Michael C. Dorf said...

Just to be clear, and in response to the exchange between Paul and Sobek: My claim was not that experience does matter but that the McCain campaign clearly based its criticisms of Obama on the assumption that it matters, and that the selection of Palin undermines this argument. The only argument Sobek makes in response to what I actually said is that Palin has the relevant kind of experience, namely executive experience. But this too undermines the McCain argument because McCain has been touting his own--legislative--experience over Obama's, so clearly he thinks legislative experience is highly relevant. As to the substance of the claim that Palin has executive experience, it's weak. Let's credit her for a year and a half as Governor of Alaska, but being the mayor of a smallish suburb for ten years simply can't count for very much. By this logic, I have valuable executive experience because I used to be the president of my condo board and vice dean of a law school (just a heartbeat away, and I sometimes filled in for the dean when the dean was traveling). There are probably tens if not hundreds of thousands of people in America with executive experience comparable to running a small town: other mayors of small towns, CEOs of medium-sized companies, etc. Finally, do I think that the right kind of experience matters? Probably a little more than Paul says, but it can easily be overwhelmed by other factors.

andy said...

Between having a relatively inexperienced person in charge if a 72= year old dies (McCain/Palin) and having a completely inexperienced person in charge from day 1 (Obama/Biden), I'll gladly take my chances with the first ticket.

Paul said...

For almost two years I lead Primus Exodus, a high-end raiding guild in EQ. I led an army of over 200 powerful individuals and during those two years we took on and defeated not mere mortals with guns but instead vanquished gods and demons and dragons. With that experience of leading men and women (not to mention hobbits, dwarfs and elves) into battle several times a week, clearly I should be president.

Sobek said...

"...I have valuable executive experience because I used to be the president of my condo board..."

Which actually makes you more qualified to be the President than Barack Obama. I just read that although Obama chaired the Senate Subcommittee on Europe, he never called it into session. Is that true?

"But this too undermines the McCain argument because McCain has been touting his own--legislative--experience over Obama's"

In terms of legislative experience, McCain obviously kicks Obama's butt all over the place. In terms of executive experience, Palin beats the other three combined.

My only point, however, is that neither Obama nor his supporters should come within fifty yards of the word "experience" unless their irony meters are irrecoverably broken.

"There are probably tens if not hundreds of thousands of people in America with executive experience comparable to running a small town..."

Ahem. Or the largest state in the union.

Even without that addition, you just underscore that there are, in fact, hundreds of thousands of Americans more qualified to run something -- anything -- than Barack Obama.

Paul, I salute you for your service, sir. Assuming of course that you were lawful good.

Sobek said...

I know my comments here are futile. The Obama supporters don't care that he touts family values while his half-brother lives in squalor in Kenya. You don't care that he supported the FISA bill (after promising to veto it). You don't care that he used his job as Senator to more than double his wife's salary, while directing a $1 million earmark to her employer. You don't care that he promises hope and change, and picked a 36-year Senator as veep. You don't care that he talks about moving beyond divisive politics, but votes the party line better than 90% of the time, or that he voted "present" more than 100 times as a state senator. You don't care that he's further to the left than NARAL on protecting infants.

You do care that you think he will enact policies you like more often than not, right? So who cares about his experience, or Palin's experience, or McCain's age, or Biden's stealth racist comments (sorry, they would be if he were a Republican), or whatever the electoral circus will turn up this year. If there's no way you will change your minds (or that I will change mine), what is the point of conversation?

Paul said...

"Ahem. Or the largest state in the union."

You were kidding about this one, right? I have to assume that land mass is not a particularly relevant criteria for executive experience. If so, perhaps we should seek out the most recent head of research at Palmer Station. Imagine all the executive experience to be had as leader of something as big as Antarctica.

egarber said...

A few observations in all this:

1. From the beginning, I always thought the whole "disaffected women Hillary voters" dynamic was way, way overblown. I never believed Hillary women would vote for McCain in any kind of significant numbers.

Now, folks think that they'll jump way to the other side of the political spectrum just because JM put a woman on the ticket. Women who supported Hillary are first and foremost of a particular political stripe -- Hillary just happens to be an incredibly competent woman to carry out their goals.

So with Palin, on the one hand, she runs hard right on social issues, which by design will draw out the evangelical base. But on the other hand, she's *also* supposed to bring over Hillary women, as if they're gonna vote to have Roe and other privacy precedents overturned by the Supreme Court. There's no way both of these predictions can come into being; they work directly against each other.

2. Generally, I think the end result of McCain's pick might be that the Dem ticket now looks "safer" from an aggregate presidential fitness perspective. It's gonna be a major sell to convince Americans that Palin is ready to step in (and it's more front and center with her, given McCain's age and health issues); few will worry about Biden's ability to do the same.

As for her executive experience, she's been governor of a state with a population only a quarter of that currently residing in Brooklyn, NY. And it's only been two years. So there's not much "experience" to tout.

And on foreign policy matters, we need to remember that Barack has more of it than both W and even Reagan had when they ran. Beyond that, he has a lifetime of experience (community activism, constitutional law, living across the racial divide, working in the state legislature, etc.) that might be somewhat unconventional, but will nonetheless be valuable. Indeed, I think it's a difference maker, because it comes from outside of Washington. As Obama says, change doesn't come *from* Washington; it comes *to* Washington.

Now, I'd have no problem with McCain making the same case for Palin, except that he can't now -- because he has trashed the lifetime experiences argument in saying Barack isn't ready.

3. Palin is under investigation in Alaska for possibly firing an ex
bro-in-law illegally. How can you choose someone actively under
investigation for corruption? It's possible nothing will come of it, but it's assured to have a place in the news cycles as the campaign wears on.

Sobek said...

"I have to assume that land mass is not a particularly relevant criteria for executive experience."

Depends. Does that land mass include some of the largest natural resource preserves in the country? If so, and if the governor as a result has a $10 billion per year budget, that kind of deflates Obama's argument about relative budget amounts, yes? But for some reason, Obama (and Prof. Dorf) is only willing to mention that she was the mayor of a small town.

Meanwhile, I'll ask again, what has Obama run? Anything? And he wants to focus on experience?

Eric said, "There's no way both of these predictions can come into being; they work directly against each other."

Hey, it doesn't have to make sense. The numbers are what they are.

That could change by November, of course -- I know a lot of conservatives who swore they would never vote McCain when he first got the nod, but have changed their tune as they learn more about Obama.

I'll also say this: Obama seems to be going out of his way to piss off Clinton. Not Clinton's agenda, but her and her supporters. I don't understand why people make politics personal, but they do. Especially when you're talking about identity politics.

That's not universal, of course. A lot of lefties have suddenly discovered, amazingly, that maybe a woman's place is in the home, after all. That it's plain irresponsible to have children and run for high office at the same time. How odd.

"So there's not much 'experience' to tout."

She was the mayor of a town, with an actual budget and actual executive responsibility. Obama has never come within 500 yards of executive experience -- he's always been part of a committee. She chaired the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. She took on a corrupt Republican establishment (and an entrenched Republican) and won by 30 points. She soundly defeated a Democratic former governor.

How many international, multibillion dollar oil pipeline deals has Obama negotiated?

All that said, go on. All of you. I cannot express how much I enjoy watching Obama supporters, of all people, attacking someone for insufficient experience. I really enjoy the latent misogyny coming out, too. Of course Palin shouldn't be on the ticket -- she should be at home, barefoot and pregnant! Keep it up, feminists. Seriously, keep it up.

egarber said...

Meanwhile, I'll ask again, what has Obama run? Anything? And he wants to focus on experience?

I think you’re missing at least one point. Obama is not running on conventional, professional politician class experience; in a change election, his argument is at least partly that experience outside of Washington is a good thing.

But for months now, John McCain has said over and over again that his brand of conventional experience is crucial – and that Barack’s lack of it makes him unworthy as a candidate.

Further, McCain has upheld the same standards for his VP pick. Here are just two quotes:

• On the April 1 edition of CNN's Situation Room, McCain asserted: "I think about whether that person who I select would be most prepared to take my place. And that would be the key criteria."


• In a July 8 Pittsburgh Tribune-Review interview, when asked, "What kind of a vice president do you want?" McCain reportedly responded: "Someone who shares my priorities and my principles. And also obviously who is ready to take my place at a moment's -- you know, immediately."

So the point is that against JM’s *own standard* -- that directly relevant experience is everything -- there is no way he can defend the Palin pick. He therefore now comes across as hypocritical and hollow.

She was the mayor of a town, with an actual budget and actual executive responsibility. Obama has never come within 500 yards of executive experience -- he's always been part of a committee. She chaired the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. She took on a corrupt Republican establishment (and an entrenched Republican) and won by 30 points. She soundly defeated a Democratic former governor.

How many international, multibillion dollar oil pipeline deals has Obama negotiated?


I think Obama has a more rounded background, and his focus has been on national issues much more directly. Plus, we’ve gotten to know him as he’s faced test after test in his presidential run over the past year and a half. We know what he believes, and the public is beginning to grow more comfortable with his vision.

But still, the issue here (in my view) is McCain’s hypocrisy, not Palin’s experience per se.

I really enjoy the latent misogyny coming out, too. Of course Palin shouldn't be on the ticket -- she should be at home, barefoot and pregnant! Keep it up, feminists. Seriously, keep it up.

What are you talking about? Nobody around here is practicing misogyny. The point is that the pick is arguably an *insult* to women, because JM apparently thinks that women voters (even liberal ones) will lurch to his side just because he put a woman on the ticket – as if women don’t first and foremost have political opinions.

And in a further irony, it looks like the whole effort to paint Barack as an America hater is blowing back on the Republicans big time. Apparently, Palin and her husband have pretty strong connections to the Alaskan Independence Party, which (as I understand it) exists so Alaska can secede from the union. Her husband might still be a member, and she has spoken at several of the group’s conventions.

Here’s the founder:

“The fires of hell are frozen glaciers compared to my hatred for the American government… and I won’t be buried under their damn flag”

Wow, I can only imagine what the wingnuts would be saying if Barack had such ties.

So does Palin hate America?

Sobek said...

"in a change election, his argument is at least partly that experience outside of Washington is a good thing."

And all of Palin's experience is outside of Washington. And Obama is a U.S. Senator, whose office is in Washington. And remind me who Obama picked for his running mate -- I'm totally drawing a blank here.

"John McCain has said over and over again that his brand of conventional experience is crucial – and that Barack’s lack of it makes him unworthy as a candidate."

And? Barack Obama has never run anything, as far as I can tell. Palin has served as a mayor, chaired an Oil and Gas Board in one of the largest oil and gas regions in the nation, and is currently the governor (whether Obama will admit it or not).

"So the point is that against JM’s *own standard* -- that directly relevant experience is everything..."

Unless you're insisting that only a former U.S. President meets McCain's standard, I think you're misreading him. Palin knows how to lead. That's what is required at a moment's notice. Obama knows how to -- ignore his pastor for twenty years? Refer to children as a "punishment"? What does he know how to do?

"I think Obama has a more rounded background, and his focus has been on national issues much more directly."

So he focuses on national issues, but what has he done? What has he accomplished? He's a U.S. Senator; it's not like he hasn't had any opportunity to actually affect anything.

"Nobody around here is practicing misogyny."

Not on this blog (that I've seen -- I haven't had much time around here recently). But in other places. Here's one charming example:

"You can juggle a BlackBerry and a breast pump in a lot of jobs, but not in the vice presidency,” said Christina Henry de Tessan, a mother of two in Portland, Ore., who supports Mr. Obama.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/02/us/politics/02mother.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

"...as if women don’t first and foremost have political opinions."

Again, as far as I'm concerned that's reasonable and logical. And yet...

http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2008_08_24-2008_08_30.shtml#1220031014

"Apparently, Palin and her husband have pretty strong connections to the Alaskan Independence Party..."

You once chided me (correctly) for accepting uncritically an assertion I found on the internet without digging deeper. I hope you'll accept this in that same spirit: it's not true.

http://www.johnmccain.com/McCainReport/Read.aspx?guid=faa9b0ce-06ad-4c26-bfbc-e7b083e2bc2d

Apparently Palin attended their convention in Wasilla in 2000 as a courtesy, because she was the mayor. By contrast, Obama listened to Jeremiah Wright's anti-white vitriol for 20 years, and was too stupid to pick up on it.

egarber said...

And all of Palin's experience is outside of Washington. And Obama is a U.S. Senator, whose office is in Washington. And remind me who Obama picked for his running mate -- I'm totally drawing a blank here.

Obama hasn’t made experience outside of Washington a *requirement* for all of his decisions; he simply feels his background creates unique perspective in a change election. And again, I’m not criticizing her experience – I’m totally open to a life experiences argument.

The point relates to McCain’s shift here. In the single most important decision a presidential candidate makes (choosing a running mate), he ran counter to his own standard.

And? Barack Obama has never run anything, as far as I can tell. Palin has served as a mayor, chaired an Oil and Gas Board in one of the largest oil and gas regions in the nation, and is currently the governor (whether Obama will admit it or not).

Again, I’m not knocking her background. It just doesn’t fit with the standard JM set forth.

Unless you're insisting that only a former U.S. President meets McCain's standard, I think you're misreading him. Palin knows how to lead. That's what is required at a moment's notice. Obama knows how to -- ignore his pastor for twenty years? Refer to children as a "punishment"? What does he know how to do?

I know that JM has said that experience is everything, and that he wants his VP to be the “most prepared” candidate. Can you or anybody honestly say she’s anywhere near that? I mean, if executive experience counts, there are many, many Republican governors with way more under their belt.

So he focuses on national issues, but what has he done? What has he accomplished? He's a U.S. Senator; it's not like he hasn't had any opportunity to actually affect anything.

I understand that he doesn’t have conventional experience – and I also think his experience is certainly fair game. But from the beginning, I’ve supported him because I think his background affords him a unique view, an “outside” perspective that includes varied real-world experiences. He certainly has a tangible career in public service and law: working with displaced workers as a community activist, becoming highly skilled in constitutional law, winning the presidency of the Harvard Law Review, serving in the state legislature, serving in the Senate, etc. And he does have more foreign policy experience than both W and Reagan did when they ran. He has spent a lot of time studying the world climate – and he has passed several public scrutiny tests.

But he also has wider life experiences, given his rise from almost nothing to his current stature. And from a racial standpoint, imo he’s exactly what the country needs right now.

On its own, I can understand how this might not be enough for some folks, but we’ve gotten to know him intimately over the last 18 months. In my view, his vision and judgment have emerged. We basically know what drives him philosophically. And we basically know his choice of direction for the country. In short, he’s been vetted. In a citizen-run democracy, there simply are times when unconventional experience is exactly what’s needed.

Now, against the narrow test of executive experience and “running things”, Palin has more experience than even McCain, no?

Again, I’m not saying she’s not qualified per se – only that she seems immensely UNqualified against McCain’s oft-repeated standard.


You once chided me (correctly) for accepting uncritically an assertion I found on the internet without digging deeper. I hope you'll accept this in that same spirit: it's not true.

First off, I think I only said that they had apparent connections -- we'll have to see what comes of it.

But you're right about my willingness to be wrong. And I’m sorry if I didn’t qualify my observation enough – I should have said, “if true in the extremes, etc.” And don’t get me wrong, honestly, I don’t really care about it; making associations a critical issue distracts from what really matters. People live complex lives, and shades of grey permeate everything. So just like with the Obama nonsense, I’ll be the first to say that I have every reason to believe Palin loves her country. As Obama said the other night, we all do.

BUT, at the first hint of anything like this, the Right has been running wild with the “Obama hates America” line, so against *that* test, this is fair game. In other words, there’s no doubt in my mind that had Michelle or Barack been tied to a group like AIP, there would be immense piling on. So why don’t the same rules apply when it happens to be somebody in their camp?

I won’t get into the Wright stuff again, but as you know, I don’t agree with your simplified characterization of the pastor.

egarber said...

Just to throw a few things out there regarding what Obama "has run":

1. If I'm not mistaken, I think being president of the Harvard Law Review entails supervising up to 80 editors.

2. There were several organizations he managed -- voter mobilization drives,etc -- while working as an organizer in Chicago.

These experiences on their own certainly aren't gigantic, but it's part of his overall life experience -- reflecting leadership positions with responsibilities over people and operations.

Sobek said...

"...he ran counter to his own standard."

How so? He wants someone with experience, and Palin has it.

"...if executive experience counts, there are many, many Republican governors with way more under their belt."

McCain's statement was actually about preparation to take his place at a moment's notice. That's not really about experience such much as leadership under extremely tough circumstances. Palin's got that in spades.

"And he does have more foreign policy experience than both W and Reagan did when they ran."

How so? He chairs a Europe subcommittee that he has never convened. He, uh, promised a Jewish group a unified Jerusalem, and then retracted less than 24 hours later under pressure from Palestinians (and he wants to negotiate with Iran?). He went to Germany and gave a speech (and then went to a gym instead of visiting wounded soldiers). Again I ask, what has he done?

"But he also has wider life experiences, given his rise from almost nothing to his current stature.."

Palin got herself elected as Mayor, and then governor. She did this, not just without her party's help, but in spite of their active assistance to her opponent. Obama got himself where he is by ... soliciting campaign contributions from an unrepentant terrorist.

"And from a racial standpoint, imo he’s exactly what the country needs right now."

A guy who attended a Black Liberation Theology church for twenty years, and never realized his pastor is a racist. Yeah, that's the ticket.

"Now, against the narrow test of executive experience and “running things”, Palin has more experience than even McCain, no?"

I assume, yes. But then again, I think McCain is a piece of crap who shouldn't be allowed within 500 yards of the presidency. So there you have it.

"...making associations a critical issue distracts from what really matters."

I disagree; it says a lot about judgment. If there were anything to the Palin/AIP claim, it would reflect very poorly on her.

"As Obama said the other night, we all do."

All of us? Even Jeremiah "God Damn America" Wright?

"...but as you know, I don’t agree with your simplified characterization of the pastor."

God Damn America sounds pretty simple to me.

egarber said...

How so? He wants someone with experience, and Palin has it.

He said he wanted the "most prepared" candidate. No way she fits that order.


How so? He chairs a Europe subcommittee that he has never convened.

He has been involved in Senate foreign policy deliberations, seeing intelligcne up close. He's been part of hearings on war and matters concerning U.S. involvement across the world. He's also visited two war zones in a position of authority.

That adds up to more than watching the Pentagon mobilize your national guard units as governor.

He went to Germany and gave a speech (and then went to a gym instead of visiting wounded soldiers).

You know the history of that one. He wanted to visit the soldiers without media (McCain lied and said he wanted to bring in cameras) -- just as he did in Iraq. But he was told by the Pentagon that in Germany it would be viewed as a campaign event. Barack then decided it wouldn't be appropriate to exploit the troops in that way.

All of us? Even Jeremiah "God Damn America" Wright?

Actually, I think he does -- if you examine his life's work. You're stuck on one 30-second clip where he was angry about the country's past actions and leadership decisions.

Sobek said...

And now I'm going to reverse course.

To a large extent, I agree with the notion that experience is not the main issue. I mean that in two senses.

First, I can't imagine anyone ever really has the experience to do everything a president needs to do (someone made that same argument on this very thread). And, indeed, they don't have to; a President doesn't micromanage DoT regulations, and if he did, he would probably be terrible with all the other departments. The only relevant "experience" is in managing a massive organization, and knowing how to surround yourself with people who can do their jobs well.

Second, experience is not relevant in the sense of earning some kind of entitlement to -- well, any office, really. If John McCain had personally won the Vietnam War and figured out how to turn nuclear waste into delicious smores, good for him, but the presidency is not an award, a pat on the back for a job well done.

The only thing I really care about in a President is what he (or she) intends to do in office, and what he (or she) can do. I believe that McCain intends to nominate conservative justices to the Supreme Court, but I don't think he has it in him to stand up to a Democratic Congress.

So there you have it, my argument against experience as a relevant factor.

All that said, unless and until I get a functioning crystal ball, there are only a few ways to determine what a candidate will do in office, and experience is part of that caluculus. Obama's 96% record of voting his own party line has me convinced that, if he wins, he will govern as a hard-core liberal. Obama's choice of associates has me convinced that he has extraordinary poor judgment. His flip-flopping statements have me convinced that he has no moral compass, and no core values beyond his own sense of self-worth. His experience -- or rather, the lack thereof -- has me convinced that he has no innate ability to accomplish anything, which is actually a plus in my book. His few legislative "accomplishments" -- a corrupt $1 million earmark to his wife's hospital, in exchange for his his wife more than doubling her salary; funding a housing project that was later condemned; appropriating funds for a park that was never built -- suggest that he is incredibly irresponsible and will have a disastrous effect on this country.

Sobek said...

"He said he wanted the '[most prepared' candidate."

Most prepared to do what? Read the rest of the quote. Not the "most experienced."

"He has been involved in Senate foreign policy deliberations..."

Your "involved in" sounds an awful lot like Sarah Palin having "connections" to AIP. What did he do in those deliberations? Did he sponsor any bills? Did he propose any ideas that have helped resolve anything?

"He's also visited two war zones in a position of authority."

Did he do anything as a result of those visits? Sponsor any new legislation? Or was he basically a tourist with an unusually large percentage of reporters in his entourage?

"But he was told by the Pentagon that in Germany it would be viewed as a campaign event."

Of course it would have been: he wanted to bring a bunch of reporters and make it a campaign event. But since when does the Pentagon decide that a Senator can't visit troops?

"You're stuck on one 30-second clip where he was angry about the country's past actions and leadership decisions."

Well, there's also the bit where he dances around his stage with glee after 9/11 while hissing about chickens. And he hasn't really apologized for either statement, has he?

How many times have you accidentally screamed "God Damn America" in a fit of anger, to a crowd of thousands of people? How many times have you publicly celebrated the deaths of U.S. citizens?

egarber said...

Most prepared to do what? Read the rest of the quote. Not the "most experienced."

In the context of everything he has said, to me it pretty clearly means most prepared and ready to take his place. If he's qualified specifically because of his experience in the foreign policy area, you'd think the "most prepared" person to replace him would be somebody at least comparable on those and other issues. I'll ask again -- does anybody seriously think she passes *that* test? Where is her foreign policy expertise?

Further, it's quite obvious she was chosen to bring out the base and potentially attract women voters. That's a political calculation, not an example of LM upholding his lofty experience standard. Now folks are simply trying to rationalize it retroactively. It’s simply not believable.

Your "involved in" sounds an awful lot like Sarah Palin having "connections" to AIP. What did he do in those deliberations?

Did he sponsor any bills?


Certainly. Here are a few (paraphrased in my words) relating to national security, defense and foreign policy (he has personally sponsored 130-140 bills overall, according to Thomas and Wikipedia):

1. A bill to fully secure loose nuclear materials at sites around the world

2. A bill co-sponsored with Dick Lugar to secure WMDs in the former Soviet Union

3. A bill to push alternative energy to get America off foreign oil.

4. A bill requiring the phased redeployment of troops from Iraq

5. A bill to promote relief and strategic assistance in the Democratic
Republic of Congo

6. A bill requiring a U.S. contribution to the special court in Sierra Leone.

7. A bill specifying the U.S. response to a global avian flu outbreak

8. A bill to pass sanctions on Iran

9. A bill to mobilize a national health care response in the event of a terrorist attack or natural disaster

10. A bill requiring extensive reporting about the "war on terror"

11. A bill to increase veteran benefits and establish a treatment scorecard

12. A bill to clarify nuclear testing rules with other countries

13. Amendments to the 2008 defense appropriations bill -- discharge accountability rules, etc.

14. A bill to direct Homeland Security to
establish the National Emergency Family Locator System

[I welcome corrections, of course]

Writing or overseeing the creation of legislation in all these cases reflects to me that Barack has a deep and growing understanding of national / foreign matters, really something no governor running for president would likely have.


Did he do anything as a result of those visits? Sponsor any new legislation? Or was he basically a tourist with an unusually large percentage of reporters in his entourage?

He did what any senator -- including McCain -- does on a fact finding trip: he learned details on the ground for use in future decision making, in Congress or as president. As a result, I’m confident he knows much more about those regions than Palin.

Of course it would have been: he wanted to bring a bunch of reporters and make it a campaign event.

Not true, according to everything I've seen. He only wanted to bring a single military adviser, who was part of the campaign. His desire to “bring the media” was a phony claim from the outset.

Well, there's also the bit where he dances around his stage with glee after 9/11 while hissing about chickens. And he hasn't really apologized for either statement, has he?

How many times have you accidentally screamed "God Damn America" in a fit of anger, to a crowd of thousands of people? How many times have you publicly celebrated the deaths of U.S. citizens?


I hear you. I’m not defending those statements – they’re horribly offensive. But my point is that you can’t say a man “hates his country” based on a few clips, without making any effort at all to see the bigger context and his life’s work. Certainly Wright has been angry about his country’s *actions*, but that’s not tantamount to him loathing what the country stands for. Indeed, his whole point – carried out poorly – was to shock followers into seeing how off course in his view the country is, measured against its promise.

And again, he has reasons to be angry -- coming up through Jim Crow, etc -- a white dorky guy like me couldn’t comprehend.

egarber said...

To a large extent, I agree with the notion that experience is not the main issue. I mean that in two senses.

I can agree with this, in general terms.

Obama's 96% record of voting his own party line has me convinced that, if he wins, he will govern as a hard-core liberal.

Have you ever reviewed the specific votes on one of the "liberal" / "conservative" meters? They seem unreliable to me. For example, Obama got knocked as a "liberal" simply for proposing that an independent body approve trip expenditures, etc., for members of Congress.

In any case, I don't see it this way. Of course, he'll push for liberal justices, which is what I want.

But when it comes to policy, my sense is that he's going to be much, much more centrist than folks on the right believe. Economically, he'll line up with the Bill Clinton thinkers -- outside of likely being more skeptical of trade agreements. He's not going to propose a socialized healthcare system; his plan merely closes the gaps with a public option.

Further, on the role of government, he talks about policy in ways past Democrats have avoided. In almost every case, he mentions that government isn't the full answer; personal responsibility is the other side of the street. And he also isn't afraid to use the bully pulpit of the presidency to knock fathers who aren't doing their part to keep families intact.

Lastly, his past record as a compromiser indicates to me that he'll look for what we have in common (not what drives us apart) when searching for solutions.

BTW, I must temper my earlier point about associations. You're right: they obviously matter. To be more precise, I should have said that although they're clearly part of one's life experiences, they have to be viewed in the larger context. For example, Obama didn't belong to his church exclusively because he worshipped Wright; the church overall is a respected and caring institution. So what I mean is that folks shouldn't jump to absolutes, simply because a candidate has certain associations in his / her background.

egarber said...

suggest that he is incredibly irresponsible and will have a disastrous effect on this country.

The way I see it, he's the right candidate to correct our *current* disastrous course.

Sobek said...

Thirty comments? I'm all done here. I'm sure we'll get a chance to re-hash all of this later.

egarber said...

No prob Sobek.

But make sure you stick around -- you're a good blog buddy.

Howard said...

QUESTION:
IS PALIN QUALIFIED COMPARED TO OBAMA ?

ANSWER:
http://townhall.com/blog/g/cba8713c-ef73-4ebc-aa5e-bc53e6596e2a&comments=true

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