Monday, July 16, 2007

Sanity102 & Wil Keepers: Sarah and the "Experience" Factor

Two of the finest bloggers on Townhall are Wil Keepers (he calls his blog "Ramblings of an Average American") and Sanity102 ( They've had a recent exchange in response to Sanity's strong support of Sarah Palin for the vice-presidential nomination. (You can see the full exchange on Sanity's blog.)

Wil's key comments to her follow: ". . . I have searched and I have yet to find what Palin would do in the war [on terror]. This is such a pivotal issue, that to me, a person one heartbeat away from the Presidency would have to show a grasp of this issue, and come to the right conclusions for me to consider them. True the VP does not set foreign policy, but they must be competent in it for there to be any confidence in the ticket as a whole. (Think Dan Quayle...despite the jokes, he was a departure from the old part of the old white guy club, yet his opponents played on his age and inexperience as weaknesses and exploited them for political gain)."

The following is my response: "Wil is a serious commenter on critical issues. The point he's raised is worthy of about 10,000 columns (at least).

I support Sarah in part, perhaps in large part, because of the "fresh eyes" phenomenon. Given her personality and history, she would conduct the WOT vigorously, with a commitment to winning it. However, she should not comment on Iraq until after the Republican nominee offers her the V-P slot. Alaska does not have a foreign policy.

What we absolutely cannot tolerate is a continuation of foreign and defense policies as our "established leaders" have defined them. We can't fight a war on anything if half the country (or more) opposes the endeavor.

In other words, we don't want the WOT over the next 8-9 years to go on as it has recently -- with great opposition to its fundamentals coming from Washington, DC. That's not fair to anyone, especially the soldiers who receive mixed messages everyday from Washington. Wil and everyone else have to tackle this issue -- and not assume that experience in the continuing "food fight" over Iraq has some special value.

Some of the Democratic candidates (Biden, Dodd, Richardson) have foreign policy experience, but their comments on the WOT are not helpful. John Edwards, who's perhaps assumed to have experience (but doesn't) says the WOT is a "bumper-sticker," a Bush-generated fantasy. His fellow candidates have not exactly responded decisively to Edwards' comment.

"New" (and Sarah is new in spades) is not always better, but old -- things as they have been and the debate as now defined -- is totally unacceptable. It's all well and good for the Dems to say they "support our troops," but that's like saying you support Michagan while half-hoping (for political reasons) that Ohio State wins. Unintentionally or not, the Democrats' stand does in fact embolden the enemy.

In a practical sense, the Dems -- the experienced and the inexperienced -- are sleeping with the enemy. Can V-P Sarah or, if the chief executive passes away, President Sarah function effectively in that situation? Of course not, and no top leader could.

What I'm saying is that Sarah can bring a new perspective (precisely because she's not yet "implicated" pro-or-con in the old war strategy) and find new, more compelling ways to explain what's at stake. The "old guys" can't do that apparently, because if they could, they would.

Like all Presidents, Sarah will need good advisors. I'd suggest people like Sanity, Wil Keepers, Elephantman, Diana Lynn Irey, Michael Steele, Lorie Byrd, and me. But what about all the "old Washington hands?" I'd recommend that she avoid them, since they're ones who have given GWB some very bad advice.

On the Dan Quayle comparison: his problem was not "inexperience." It was incompetence. The guy is an intellectual and political lightweight. Ironically, his wife is neither.

That's not a problem Sarah has. She is tough, smart, and an outstanding communicator -- all qualities Quayle lacks. For many people, Quayle was the classic "deer in the headlights. Sarah's nickname is the "Barracuda."

In the WOT, deer is bad, and barracuda is excellent.

Stephen R. Maloney
Ambridge, PA


wil said...

Inexperience can be overcome. Lincoln had only two years as a nondescript member of the House and two failed Senate campaigns in his background when elected. Many in the Republican establishment thought he would be a disaster as President. Eisenhower never to my knowledge held elective office before his Presidency and was an above average president in my opinion. On the other hand, Grant was the same as Eisenhower, a neophyte politician coming from a military background, and he was a disaster. Experience matters, but personal integrity and character tend to matter more.

Governor Palin looks to be a good candidate. She is someone I COULD support based on what I know of her so far. But I will need to hear what she thinks of the war before I can in good conscience endorse her. This goes for every candidate. Of the 10 candidates somewhat announced for the Republican nomination (except for Gilmore who dropped out), I could consider all but four based on their stated war positions. Those four are Paul, Tancredo, Brownback, and Tommy Thompson. Of the Democrats, there are none I could seriously consider. (If Lieberman were running, it would be iffy) We are a year and a half away from the election. We have plenty of time to hear from whoever the nominee chooses as VP on this vital issue. I suspect that like Lincoln and Eisenhower, she will have the right views and turn out to be a great choice if chosen. And you are certainly attracting notice in your endorsement of her. But I will not commit to someone until I know where they stand on this issue.

Stephen R. Maloney said...

Wil and Others: I always appreciate comments on Sarah. The period between now and Christmas is a crucial one in bringing her to the attention of a national audience. The column (reprinted today on my blog) by Dimitri Vassilaros, an important conservative columnist in Pittsburgh (15 miles from where I live) is an important step forward in the "Movement." It points out how Sarah transcends the usual Party nonsense and corruption that so often befalls elected officials. As you'll note, Dimitri uses the "P-word" (President), although it's too early for that right now. We are all onto something very, very big.