Palin brings energy to ticket, but lacks foreign policy cred

Michael Conti/AFP/Getty Images A cursory search for Sarah Palin’s foreign policy credentials comes up with, well, nothing. It seems that John McCain figures he’s got that avenue covered, and has picked Palin to please the conservative base, add some youth to the ticket (she’s 44), and reach out to female voters. More importantly for McCain, ...

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592900_080829_palin25.jpg

Michael Conti/AFP/Getty Images

A cursory search for Sarah Palin's foreign policy credentials comes up with, well, nothing. It seems that John McCain figures he's got that avenue covered, and has picked Palin to please the conservative base, add some youth to the ticket (she's 44), and reach out to female voters.

More importantly for McCain, one of Palin's strengths may be energy. She's in favor of drilling in ANWR, but has been careful to consider environmental concerns. An interview from July reveals some potential Republican talking points on energy independence:

Michael Conti/AFP/Getty Images

A cursory search for Sarah Palin’s foreign policy credentials comes up with, well, nothing. It seems that John McCain figures he’s got that avenue covered, and has picked Palin to please the conservative base, add some youth to the ticket (she’s 44), and reach out to female voters.

More importantly for McCain, one of Palin’s strengths may be energy. She’s in favor of drilling in ANWR, but has been careful to consider environmental concerns. An interview from July reveals some potential Republican talking points on energy independence:

Alaskans are frustrated because there is opposition in Congress to developing our vast amount of natural resources. We want to contribute more to the rest of the United States. We want to help secure the United States, and help us get off this reliance of foreign sources of energy.”

Later, she even comments on the vice presidential speculation, and once again brings up energy:

I think that any kind of national profile, if there is any elevation of that, it’s for Alaska itself. People are looking up here (and saying) we need you as leaders for energy policy. We have a willingness to develop responsibly and supply the rest of the United States, and that’s why we are being looked at. I just happen to be in a position of leadership where I get drawn into that.”

She can boast about standing up to big oil, having won a state tax increase on oil company profits. But, like McCain’s summer gas tax holiday, she’s been prone to gimmicky energy strategies, such as a botched plan to offer $100-a-month energy debit cards to Alaskans.

As governor of Alaska, she hasn’t had anything to say about national security. Her oldest son will deploy to Iraq next month, which puts her in the same position as her new rival, Joe Biden. Other than that, her only statements have been vague offerings of support for Alaska’s national guard. And I don’t buy the argument that because Alaska borders Canada and Russia, her experience as governor should count for something there.

I think it’s safe to say McCain will handle national security for the ticket. He’ll use Palin’s credentials on energy to hammer away at a message that served Republicans well over the summer — more drilling.

Sure enough, McCain’s official statement seems to follow this exactly.

Patrick Fitzgerald is a researcher at Foreign Policy.

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