A heartbeat away
Alaska Governor’s Office I wasn’t in Washington Friday when John McCain announced Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate, and I haven’t had the chance to comment until now. It’s wonderful that, no matter who wins, the United States will have either an African-American or a woman in the White House. Palin’s husband is ...
Alaska Governor's Office
I wasn’t in Washington Friday when John McCain announced Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate, and I haven’t had the chance to comment until now.
It’s wonderful that, no matter who wins, the United States will have either an African-American or a woman in the White House. Palin’s husband is part Inuit, which is pretty cool. And she sounds like a reformer, at least for a state as notoriously corrupt as Alaska.
But I’m surprised that McCain, given his campaign’s focus on national security, would pick someone who apparently didn’t even have a passport before July 2007, when she visited her state’s troops in Kuwait (she introduced herself as “commander in chief of the Alaska National Guard” Friday).
It’s not just that Palin has no discernable experience when it comes to foriegn policy. It’s that we barely have any clues what she even thinks about the world. Her latest comments on Iraq, that I can find, are these remarks from Aug. 14:
I have a 19 year old who’s getting ready to be deployed to Iraq. His striker [sic] brigade leaves on September 11 of this year. He’s 19 and he’ll be gone for a year. [And so] on a personal level, when I talk about the plan for the war, let’s make sure we have a plan here. And respecting McCain’s position on that too, though.
Asked by Alaska Business Monthly in 2007 about the surge, Palin admitted, “I’ve been so focused on state government, I haven’t really focused much on the war in Iraq,” adding that she wanted to “know that we have an exit plan in place.” And that’s about it. Maybe she’ll turn out to be the second coming of Theodore Roosevelt, but for now she’s just a complete unknown.
With such a thin record, can anyone — even the most ardent Republican — honestly imagine Palin sitting across the table from somebody like Vladimir Putin? Say what you want about Dick Cheney, but at least nobody is questioning whether Bush’s vice president is qualified to represent the United States on his upcoming trip to the Caucasus.
McCain advisor Charlie Black tried to joke about Palin’s lack of foreign-policy cred with Michael Cooper and Elisabeth Bumiller of the New York Times:
She’s going to learn national security at the foot of the master for the next four years, and most doctors think that he’ll be around at least that long.”
Not very reassuring. Please stay healthy, John.
Blake Hounshell is a former managing editor of Foreign Policy.
More from Foreign Policy
Chinese Hospitals Are Housing Another Deadly Outbreak
Authorities are covering up the spread of antibiotic-resistant pneumonia.
Henry Kissinger, Colossus on the World Stage
The late statesman was a master of realpolitik—whom some regarded as a war criminal.
The West’s False Choice in Ukraine
The crossroads is not between war and compromise, but between victory and defeat.
Washington wants to get tough on China, and the leaders of the House China Committee are in the driver’s seat.