Palin’s Lack of Experience and Lack of Thought on Foreign Policy

The choice of Sarah Palin as John McCain’s running mate was unbelievably bad on so many levels. Besides being the least experienced or qualifed person to be on a major party ticket in modern times, this is also a bad choice politically. John McCain has lost the ability to plausibly question the experience of Barack Obama, which is tremendously greater than that of his running mate. The choice raises serious questions as to McCain’s judgment, as well as his principles as he placed picking someone he believed could help him politically (even if he is probably mistaken) over the needs of the country. The choice also undermines any claims he might make as to the importance of the Iraq war.

A seventy-two year old cancer survivor would be expected to choose a vice president who is capable of carrying out his foreign policy if he really considered the Iraq war to be as important as he often states. Ignoring the argument from Fox News that Palin has foreign policy experience as Alaska is next to Russia, Palin has no experience on foreign policy (along with very little experience on national issues).

Sometimes a lack of experience in certain areas might be overlooked based upon knowledge of an issue. While Obama has extensive experience in domestic policy and questions of Constitutional law (which is especially important after eight years of George Bush and Dick Cheney), he does have limited first hand experience in foreign policy. Despite this, Obama does have a history of not only considering foreign policy issues but of being right on Iraq when John McCain was totally wrong.

Sarah Palin shows no signs of having considered foreign policy issues in the past as Obama has. Mark Benjamin provides some examples which show that she was not thinking of foreign policy:

Well, maybe Sarah Palin thought the surge was great, or maybe she didn’t. It’s hard to tell what, if anything, Palin thinks or thought about the surge of troops in Iraq, or the decision to invade Iraq in the first place, for that matter. A clip search doesn’t show any substantive comments from Palin about Iraq during her short term as governor of Alaska, in 2007 or 2008, or at any point prior to that. That includes instances when she was specifically asked about the war.

In an interview with Alaska Business Monthly shortly after she took office in 2007, Palin was asked about the upcoming surge. She said she hadn’t thought about it. “I’ve been so focused on state government, I haven’t really focused much on the war in Iraq,” she said. “I heard on the news about the new deployments, and while I support our president, Condoleezza Rice and the administration, I want to know that we have an exit plan in place; I want assurances that we are doing all we can to keep our troops safe.”

Seven months into the surge, she still either had not formed any opinion on the surge or the war or just wasn’t sharing. “I’m not here to judge the idea of withdrawing, or the timeline,” she said in a teleconference interview with reporters during a July 2007 visit with Alaska National Guard troops stationed in Kuwait. “I’m not going to judge even the surge. I’m here to find out what Alaskans need of me as their governor.”

That’s a little weird, since Fort Richardson, near Anchorage, has dispatched countless soldiers to Iraq, including many who did not make it back. And Palin’s own son, Track, is an infantry soldier who could go there any time.

This hardly sounds like someone who is prepared to carry on John McCain’s foreign policy should she have to take on the duties of commander in chief.

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  1. 1
    chris says:

    Not for nothing but how can you attack Palin for her supposed lack of experience but at the same time support Obama? Palin has the equal or better in the experience department to Obama. You keep saying Obama has foreign policy experience but I don’t know of a single thing he’s ever done in the area. Plus Governors don’t get to vote “present” on difficult issues like Obama is known for.

    It is also interesting that you bring up the surge. Obama was flat out wrong about the surge. Isn’t it better to have a person with little track record than to have a person whose track record shows him to be wrong headed?

    When John Kerry was the candidate – did you classify him as a cancer survivor? Did you question the foreign policy bona fides of John Edwards?

    Just curious.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:


    Palin has a fraction of the experience of Obama. She has about 20 months as Governor of a small state. Her time in a tiny Alaska town where most functions are performed on a county level barely counts.

    Obama has experience in Constitutional law as well as a community organizer before his time in the Illinois legislature. While in the Illinois legislature he dealt with many issues of national significance–to a much greater degree than Palin has.

    The issue of voting present has long ago been exposed as a dishonest right wing smear lacking in substance but we know very well that conservatives prefer to deal in such dishonest smears as opposed to matters of substance.

    If you look at the actual post, I do not say that Obama has had much foreign policy experience, although he has had some in the Senate. I point out that at he has considered these issues and has shown far better judgment than John McCain, who supposedly is the experienced candidate on this issue.

    Obama has been right on Iraq every step of the way. He was right on the most important question of all in opposing the war. He was right on the surge. The drop in violence from the surge was predicted by myself and many other opponents before it ever began. This does not mean that the surge has contributed to the more important political gains or was worth its cost.

    As I’ve mentioned several times, the choice of Edwards was one of Kerry’s biggest mistakes. I’ve also noted many times that Edwards was not qualified to be on a national ticket. Unlike conservatives who defend anything their candidates do, I stick to the facts. Fortunately John Kerry was considerably younger than John McCain is.

    The Democrats have two people on their ticket who are qualified to be president. The Republicans have zero. To claim that Palin has anyway near the experience Obama has, or in any way comes close to having the experience to be a plausible vice president is absurd. McCain certainly has many years in government, buy during this campaign he has demonstrated a lack of knowledge which can only be explained by being extremely out of touch or by senility.

    Voting for McCain/Palin is just too great a risk for American, even before considering the fact that they are on the wrong side of the issues.

  3. 3
    chris says:


    Saying that the Democrats have two people on their ticket who are qualified to be president and the Republicans have zero is just silly.

    I’ll also point out that John Kerry is 65 years old and a cancer survivor who was not made to release his medical records because the press was giving him a free pass.

    I’m amused that the pick of Sarah Palin seems to be an obsession now.  The more people focus on Palin – the better for the McCain campaign.

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:


    I hardly consider either McCain or Palin qualified to be president. (Keep in mind I’m using criteria which also excluded John Edwards as being qualified).

    John Kerry certainly did release his medical records during the 2004 campaign. He had just had cancer surgery shortly before the primary campaigns. There was no way he could have gotten away not having done so.

    The choice of vice president is the first significant decision made by a candidate which reflects upon their ability to be president. It hardly helps McCain that he failed this test.

  5. 5
    chris says:

    I’d be curious what criteria you use that says Obama and his limited experience is qualified while McCain is not.

    Out of curiosity – by what criteria is anyone more qualified that John McCain to be Commander in Chief of the armed forces?

  6. 6
    Ron Chusid says:


    John McCain is not qualified to be commander in chief based upon his many statements showing a total lack of understanding of the situation in Iraq, as well as elsewhere such as in eastern Europe. He is far too out of touch to be trusted with such power.

    The lack of qualifications for many in his party to govern has been demonstrated quite frequently over the last eight years–longer if you include the manner in which Republicans have used their control of Congress.

  7. 7
    Mark Ploch says:

    Palin will be her own worst enemy. 
    Since she loves to misuse Lincoln quotes, she should try this one,
    “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

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