Monday, September 8, 2008

Palin beats Obama on experience

As someone who cast a vote for Hillary Clinton in this year's Illinois primary, I have something to say about McCain's choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to be his vice-presidential running mate.

Obama has been too quick, and too defensive in tone, to try and paint Gov. Palin as low on experience -- even while claiming that McCain now has no business questioning the credentials and experience of Obama.

With independent voters, Obama has two large risks in trying to push this point.

First, on the experience issue, Gov. Palin seems to have Sen. Obama beat. While she is young, three years junior of even Obama, she already has more years of public service than Obama. Further, she actually has executive experience - something Obama and Biden both lack. She also has accomplishments in the areas of ethics, energy and tax policy reform, and even running a private business. She governs the largest land-mass of any U.S. State, and more public land than any other state, and has experience commanding the Armed Forces of Alaska and dealing with foreign borders with Russia and Canada - again both Obama and Biden lack experience in all these areas. Last year alone she implemented a $40 billion natural gas project to bring needed alternative energy sources to the United States. Something that Obama and Biden could only dream of.

The net of all this is that if Obama thinks he is now clear of examination on his lack of experience - he is in for a rude awakening. Palin, as young a woman as she is, only makes Obama's lack of experience and lack of concrete accomplishments even more glaring. Instead of taking away this argument from McCain, it strengthens McCain's argument against Obama.

Second, Obama, by discounting the accomplishments of Palin, risks turning himself into yet another man dismissive of women. Obama's treatment of Hillary Clinton during the past year's primary campaign was sexist and dismissive of women. He already has demonstrated his lack of concern for women. The Democrats, and Obama, risk that the legacy they earn this year is one of disrespect of talented, motivated women.

Finally, Gov Palin's family focused goals, her life respecting outlook, her independent spirit, her willingness to go after public corruption in her own party, her willingness to take on the powerful oil industry in Alaska, and her view that public service is to get things done - not play things safe, can only serve to get the attention of voters like me, who will vote for either party, if they convince me they are going to work for us regular people, and actually get something done. Gov. Palin so far seems like the real deal.

Obama's first real big decision, the 'safe' choice of Sen. Biden, really does not make me think Obama is the agent of change he says he is.

McCain-Palin just may be.

-- Steve Breitenbach
Libertyville, Ill.

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