Friday, September 26, 2008

The Disgrace of John McCain

I very rarely write about issues of domestic politics, and in the rare instances that I do, I never write anything that looks like an endorsement of one candidate or party over another.

But I'm going to break that policy now.

John McCain has absolutely disgraced himself in the selection of Sarah Palin as his vice presidential candidate.

The woman is, to put it mildly, a moron when it comes to foreign policy. I'm sorry to be so harsh and unprofessional, but it is to be expected when one is nominated for the second-highest position in the land, if not the world.

Her interview with Charles Gibson was bad enough. That was the one in which Palin, when asked about the Bush Doctrine, had absolutely no idea about what Gibson was asking her. Many pundits have rushed to her defense, arguing that there are many definitions of the Bush Doctrine, and thus by not stating which one he meant, the error was Gibson's.

This is sheer idiocy. If Palin had the faintest clue what the Bush Doctrine was, or even that it existed, she would have either asked which one Gibson meant, or provided a definition of one incarnation. I am confident that my students could have done so. But Palin responded by asking if Gibson was referring to Bush's "world view." Pathetic.

But her interview with Katie Couric was even more pathetic. At this point, one would have thought that Palin was meeting round-the-clock with McCain's foreign policy team, working on basic understandings of foreign policy. Instead, we get this:

Katie Couric: You've cited Alaska's proximity to Russia as part of your foreign policy experience. What did you mean by that?

Sarah Palin: That Alaska has a very narrow maritime border between a foreign country, Russia, and, on our other side, the land-boundry that we have with Canada. It's funny that a comment like that was kinda made to … I don't know, you know … reporters.

Couric: Mocked?

Palin: Yeah, mocked, I guess that's the word, yeah.

Couric: Well, explain to me why that enhances your foreign-policy credentials.

Palin: Well, it certainly does, because our, our next-door neighbors are foreign countries, there in the state that I am the executive of. And there…

Couric: Have you ever been involved in any negotiations, for example, with the Russians?

Palin: We have trade missions back and forth, we do. It's very important when you consider even national-security issues with Russia. As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right next to, they are right next to our state.
Again, it's not on its face implausible that being governor of Alaska would involve some interactions with Russia or Canada that could be touted as foreign policy experience. But all Palin can do is say that there are trade missions back and forth. Was she involved with them? Did she meet anyone or influence the outcomes to any degree? We don't know.

What we do know is that if Putin rears his head and flies across the Bering Strait into the US (what does that mean anyway?), he'll enter Alaska first. Again, no discussion of why that fact matters. At this point, one would think that Palin could have at least spit out something that she would have memorized about something. But no.

I have always hated domestic politics. And this is exactly why. McCain should be ashamed of himself for picking a foreign policy moron as his running mate. The vice president need not be a foreign policy expert. In fact, given McCain's experience, perhaps his VP didn't need any foreign policy chops at all. But anyone serving at the level of government, and certainly one with a high probability of becoming president, needs to at least have a rudimentary understanding of foreign policy. McCain has disgraced himself and his claims of "country first" with this pick.


Anonymous said...

Professor Weinberger,

I must ask, who do you believe is more qualified to be the commander in chief? John McCain with 20 years on the armed services committee, or the junior senator Obama? It would seem that, while Palin lacks FP experience, she is still on the bottom of the ticket. IMO, that inexperience is similar to that of Obama's, only in that case, it's at the top of the ticket.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with the anonymous comment. The "top man" of the Democratic ticket is far worse than the bottom of the GOP ticket in this realm. His FP experience is similar to his skills with impromptu speaking, non-existent.