That’s why the important point about Palin’s lack of experience isn’t about Palin. It’s about McCain. And the question is not how his choice of Palin might complicate his ability to use the “experience” issue, or whether he will have to drop experience as an issue. It’s not even about the proper role of experience as an issue. In fact, it’s not about experience at all. It’s about honesty. The question should be whether McCain--and all the other Republicans who have been going on for months about Obama’s dangerous lack of foreign policy experience--ever meant a word of it. And the answer is apparently not. Many conservative pundits woke up this very morning fully prepared to harp on Obama’s alleged lack of experience for months more. Now they face the choice of either executing a Communist-style U-turn (“Experience? Feh! Who needs it?”) or trying to keep a straight face while touting the importance of having been mayor of a town of 9,000 if you later find yourself president of a nation of 300 million.Kinsley’s full piece can be found here.
We all know that modern political campaigns choose their issues from the cafeteria line, after market-testing them, and then having them professionally framed. Rarely, though, are we offered such a clear and unarguable example. How could anyone truly believe that Barack Obama’s background and job history are inadequate experience for a president, and simultaneously believe that Sarah Palin’s background and job history are perfectly adequate? It’s possible to believe one or the other. But both? Simply not possible. John McCain has been--what’s the word?--lying. And so have all the pundits who rushed to defend McCain’s choice.
This is especially damning to McCain because his case for himself (besides not being Barack Obama, a standard under which many of us might qualify) has rested on his honor and integrity. The North Vietnamese couldn’t break him, and neither could the Brahmins of his own party in the Senate. He was a maverick who always told it straight. So much for that.
Meanwhile, the news Web site Politico asks political scholars for their opinions of Palin:
John McCain was aiming to make history with his pick of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, and historians say he succeeded.All of that Politico article is available here.
Presidential scholars say she appears to be the least experienced, least credentialed person to join a major-party ticket in the modern era.
So unconventional was McCain’s choice that it left students of the presidency literally “stunned,” in the words of Joel Goldstein, a St. Louis University law professor and scholar of the vice presidency. “Being governor of a small state for less than two years is not consistent with the normal criteria for determining who’s of presidential caliber,” said Goldstein.
“I think she is the most inexperienced person on a major-party ticket in modern history,” said presidential historian Matthew Dallek.
That includes Spiro T. Agnew, Richard Nixon’s first vice president, who was governor of a medium-sized state, Maryland, for two years, and before that, executive of suburban Baltimore County, the expansive jurisdiction that borders and exceeds in population the city of Baltimore.
It also includes George H.W. Bush’s vice president, Indiana Sen. Dan Quayle, who had served in the House and Senate for 12 years before taking office. And it also includes New York Rep. Geraldine Ferraro, who served three terms in the House before Walter Mondale chose her in 1984 as the first female candidate on a major-party ticket.
“It would be one thing if she had only been governor for a year and a half, but prior to that she had not had major experience in public life,” Dallek said of Palin. “The fact that he would have to go to somebody who is clearly unqualified to be president makes Obama look like an elder statesman.”
READ MORE: “Getting Real About Palin,” by Josh Marshall (Talking Points Memo).