September 22, 2008

Palin Pick Wins on Judgment and Experience

By Donald G. Mashburn

Sen. John McCain hit the “mother lode” in choosing Gov. Sara Palin, R-AK, as his vice presidential running mate. And he showed both judgment and courage doing it.

Barack Obama talks about having judgment – although he has little experience from which he could develop it. John McCain has built a lifelong foundation on which he can base good judgment: A combat naval pilot, a Navy wing commander, working in private business, and 26 solid years in the U.S. Senate, where he proved his America-first bent – and never asked for a pork-barrel earmark for his home state of Arizona.

And in picking Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, McCain showed not only solid judgment in sizing up both the people he chooses to work with, but also the country’s feelings and needs, but also struck “gold” on experience.

Palin, the first-term governor of Alaska, has shown herself to be a quick study in positions of ever-increasing responsibility. She has business experience, and before she was elected governor, she gained experience in local politics as both a city councilwoman and mayor of her hometown, Wasilla, AK.

Gov. Palin was chairwoman of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. Then she ran for governor in 2006, and got 51 percent of the vote in a three-candidate primary field that included incumbent Gov. Frank Murkowski. In the general election, she beat a popular Democrat, Tony Knowles, who had served twice as Alaska’s governor.

She has built a reputation as a reformer, even when reform meant that members of her own party were the targets. Gov. Palin, whose husband, Todd, works at a blue-collar job in the oil industry on the North Slope, has developed a sound reputation among Alaskans as a reformer not afraid to take on special interests.

Gov. Palin took on the powerful oil industry to win a large increase in taxes that has boosted Alaska’s treasury, and which allowed her to push for and get a $1,200 payout per person to help alleviate the high cost of fuel.

But Palin’s selection brought criticism from Obama Democrats, who had the audacity to complain of her “lack of experience.” The absurdity of such criticism is not lost on objective observers, who view Gov. Palin’s experience as far superior to that of Obama, the former community organizer from Chicago’s South side.

Democrats should be reluctant to raise the experience issue. When it comes to executive or command experience, John McCain and Sarah Palin are the clear winners.

During his 22-year Navy career, Sen. McCain was a combat pilot, a prisoner of war, and much-decorated war hero; commanded a Navy air wing, served as the Navy’s liaison to the U.S. Senate, worked in public affairs in business, and served four years in the House of Representatives before being elected to the U.S. Senate.

Gov. Palin has had executive and administrative experience as a mayor and as governor of our largest state. She probably made more executive administrative decisions in her first month as governor than Obama and Biden have made in their entire careers.

Barack Obama’s resume is paper thin – if you use the thinnest paper possible. As a community organizer he worked at organizing protest and influence groups to achieve the groups’ goals, and had a stint teaching law. But none of this required him to make executive decisions and be accountable for them.

He reportedly has had only 173 or 178 (depending on the source) actual working days as a senator. He hasn’t yet completed his first term as the junior senator from Illinois. Worse, he started organizing his presidential campaign before he had completed 24 months in the senate! So for about half of his first terms as senator, he has spent about half of that time running for president. Talk about “the audacity of hope!”

Sen. Biden’s nearly 36 years in the Senate speaks volumes on his lack of executive experience. Before being elected to the Senate at 29, Biden practiced law for a few years, and had a two-year stint on a county council. In his long stay in Washington, Biden has had one one-hundredth of half a vote, considering that House approval of legislation is also required.

Both Gov. Palin and former naval commander John McCain should welcome any discussion on experience. Obama and Biden would do well to keep mum on the subject.

P E R S P E C T I V E

Worn-Out Expressions That Wear Me Out

“John McCain and George Bush …,” tediously over-used by Democratic nominee Barack Hussein Obama. In using the tired phrase, Obama tries to make it appear as if McCain is co-president, or has somehow been the only senator (out of 1000) that had enough influence to steer the Bush administration “wrong” – “wrong” being anything the Democrats oppose.

“I have always said,” or “I have said all along,” or “I have consistently said ….” Sen. Obama almost always uses these repetitious lead-offs to correct an earlier mistake, or expand on, and shore up, a previous weak statement, such as the ones he made on the Russian invasion of Georgia, and the financial crisis on Wall Street after Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy and Merrill Lynch agreed to be acquired by Bank of America.

“She lacks the experience to become president …,” a reference to Gov. Sarah Palin, R-AK. First of all, she’s not on the ticket as the nominee for president, but for vice president. But any reference to her supposed lack of experience is absurd, when she has much more executive experience than the other three – all men – topping the Democratic and Republican tickets.

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of contributors are their own, and are not necessarily those of Sage Commentary.