03 October 2008

So, you want to be commander-in-chief

One point the McCain campaign has stressed all along is that Barack Obama is not ready to be commander-in-chief. Then John McCain surprised the world by tapping Sarah Palin as his running mate. Governor Palin has many things going for her, but lets just say her mastery of foreign policy has been less than stellar.

My conclusion, primarily from the evidence of the past two weeks: They're both right. Sarah Palin is not ready to be commander-in-chief. Neither is Barack Obama.

Like many other Americans, I tuned into last night's debate between Sarah Palin and … what's his name again? … with a sense of morbid fascination. Will she come across as knowing less about foreign policy than I do? Or will her crash course of the past several weeks at least help her give the impression that she is aware of current events?

The answer is, she held her own. It would be overstating it to say that she won the debate, but she didn't lose it, either. It was a good, solid tie. Under the circumstances, that's an accomplishment.

Likewise, her opponent … Baden? Biden? … made no serious flubs, either. So, like all good VP candidates, he can now fade quietly from the public eye. All good VP candidates except Palin, that is. We'll keep watching her.

I agree that Governor Palin is not ready to be commander-in-chief. However, I'm impressed with her learning curve. Give her four years of apprenticeship with an expert, and I suspect she'll be ready. Let's just hope she doesn't get the opportunity before then …

So, what about Senator Obama?

Some pundits say he held his own in the debate on foreign policy. It sure didn't look that way to me. Senator McCain gave example after example of specific areas in which Senator Obama simply lacks the experience to make wise decisions. He used the term naive to describe Obama, and I think his assessment was accurate. Senator Obama, like Senator McCain, has some great ideals. But is he ready to make the tough calls, by which people live or die?

Then there are character issues I've addressed in other posts:

  1. In the current economic crisis, McCain has revealed himself as a leader, while Obama has revealed himself as an opportunist. ("Will the real politician please stand up", Sept 26 2008; "Honesty is not always the best policy", Sept 29 2008)
  2. In the presidential debate, McCain's central topic was the future of America, while Obama's central topic was the future of Barack Obama. ("The I's have it", Sept 26 2008)

Put all these together, and it's clear that Obama is not ready for the job.

So, at one level, the question comes it down to this: Is it worse to have someone a heartbeat away from the Presidency who is not prepared, or someone *in* the Presidency who is not prepared?

Another way to look at it: Barack Obama's credentials and Sarah Palin's credentials are comparable. Either would make a decent VP, and perhaps someday a decent President. But one of them isn't running for VP.

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