Ramesh Ponnuru: Cold Water on Palin

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Inexperience. Palin has been governor for about two minutes. Thanks to McCain’s decision, Palin could be commander-in-chief next year. That may strike people as a reckless choice; it strikes me that way. And McCain's age raised the stakes on this issue.

As a political matter, it undercuts the case against Obama. Conservatives are pointing out that it is tricky for the Obama campaign to raise the issue of her inexperience given his own, and note that the presidency matters more than the vice-presidency. But that gets things backward. To the extent the experience, qualifications, and national-security arguments are taken off the table, Obama wins.

And it’s not just foreign policy. Palin has no experience dealing with national domestic issues, either. (On the other hand, as Kate O’Beirne just told me, we know that Palin will be ready for that 3 a.m. phone call: She’ll already be up with her baby.)

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsUS Presidential Election 2008

Posted August 30, 2008 at 10:12 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Umbridge wrote:

She’ll already be up with her baby

Quotes like this will backfire on the Dems.

August 30, 10:37 am | [comment link]
2. BlueOntario wrote:

If Harry S were still alive he would punch this fellow in the nose.

August 30, 10:37 am | [comment link]
3. Sick & Tired of Nuance wrote:

Pro 2nd Amendment
Pro hunting
Pro domestic energy production (energy independence)
Washington outsider
Only candidate with Executive Office experience (Governor)
Small town credentials (Mayor)
The only candidate that is enjoying positive polls (80-90% approval)
Son in the military on way to Iraq
Track record as anti-waste/anti-corruption reformer
Has run a small business (commercial fishing)
Has media savey (former TV reporter)
She appears to be a genuine Christian

August 30, 10:44 am | [comment link]
4. Sick & Tired of Nuance wrote:

Ditto to #1 & #2.  The author’s misogyny showed through that comment!

August 30, 10:45 am | [comment link]
5. scott+ wrote:

In reading the article I see Harry S also except I agree with her on the issues whereas if I were alive I would have not agreed with Harry S.  But what ever you think about the issues, Harry S ended up being a great president and if it comes to that I think so shall she.

August 30, 11:28 am | [comment link]
6. Cennydd wrote:


August 30, 11:36 am | [comment link]
7. francis wrote:

Give us Mom and apple pie any day over someone who’s not sure they like America.

August 30, 11:44 am | [comment link]
8. Anglicanum wrote:

Inexperienced?  Hogwash!  The measure of experience is not how long one has held an office, but what one has accomplished in the time one has.  Obama has been in office for four years, two of which he has been running for president, and has accomplished nothing.  Palin has been in office a year and has accomplished quite a bit. 

The inexperience argument won’t fly.

August 30, 11:51 am | [comment link]
9. the snarkster wrote:

I just don’t see “executive experience” as a qualification. George Bush had lots of executive experience and look what that got us. Any amount of executive experience she has is more than Obama has. And before anyone jumps me about the Bush comment, I am a conservative and a Republican. I voted for Bush though, God knows, I wish I hadn’t. He has been a disaster for the nation and the Republican Party.

Bottom Line: The more I look at Palin, the more I like her. She makes McCain a lot more palatable to me.

the snarkster™

August 30, 11:52 am | [comment link]
10. Carolina Anglican wrote:

In reading the criticisms of Gov. Palin by Democrats, I notice that there is no objectivity when it comes to comparing her experience to Sen. Obama’s. Her experience carries more weight than his by far I think. But Democrats seem to equate Obama’s gender with capability while her’s with unpreparedness.  It is interesting to me that the party of “equality” sees her gender as a weakness and Obama’s as a strength.  All things being equal (equal pay for equal work as Obama exhorted in his speech), she is more experienced and prepared than Obama.  I also have not heard anyone ask how Obama is going to be a father while President, but Democrats already question her ability to be both VP and a mom.  As usual we see that the Republican party is the party of equality while Democrats offer lip service only and manufacture reasons to downplay advances within the Republican party’s initiatives like with Palin, Condoleeza Rice, Colin Powell and Clarence Thomas.

August 30, 12:11 pm | [comment link]
11. jkc1945 wrote:

The “experience” argument is a straw man. 
Robert McNamara, when offered the job, first, of Secretary of State under Kennedy, objected because, as he told Kennedy, he was completley ‘unqualified.’  Kennedy then offered him Secretary of Defense, and McNamara tried to raise the same objection- - mainly that he had no experience in running anything like the Pentagon, no experience with that big a budget, etc., and kennedy interrupted him and said:  “Bob!!  There are no training schools for Presidents, either!!”
As of January 2009, the USA will have a President and a Vice President with absolutely no experience working as President or Vice President.  the training is “on-the job,” always has been, and always will be.  Washington was first to receive it, and he did OK. 
Palin is as ready as Biden to be VP, and as ready as either Obama or McCain to be President.  God forbid that should ever occur, but it is not because of inexperience that I say that.  The only “experienced” President or Vice President is a second-termer.

August 30, 1:09 pm | [comment link]
12. Dee in Iowa wrote:

“Bob!!  There are no training schools for Presidents, either!!”
Finally…....everyone is saying that Obama won’t be able to say this now that Palin has the nomination for VP.  Well by the same token, the McCain camp has to shut their trap about Obama not having experience.  That subject is off the table….perod, end of story, forget it…..

August 30, 1:20 pm | [comment link]
13. Oldman wrote:

Slight difference, Dee. Compare apples to apples, ie. Obama and McCain, then oranges to oranges, ie. Pilan and Biden.

August 30, 1:35 pm | [comment link]
14. Nikolaus wrote:

But hasn’t the Obama camp already opened their yap about her “inexperience?”  I believe they have and I believe that gives the advantage to McCain/Palin, as long as they play it right.  There is no telling what will unfold over the next two months or how.  But the GOP has experience in the #1 position, for Dem’s it is #2 who has a history of plagarism.  As to misgivings about President Bush, sure I have them too, but then I think about Gore in 2001 or Kerry in 2004.

August 30, 1:57 pm | [comment link]
15. St. Cuervo wrote:

#1 & #4—Ponnuru is a Republican not a Democrat.

August 30, 2:22 pm | [comment link]
16. athan-asi-us wrote:

Whos is this Ponnuru guy? Never heard of him. One thing I’m sure of, Sarah Palin has expertly climbed the political ladder in a way that is unmatched.  She has the potential of becoming the American Margaret Thatcher if she keeps up the momentum. The Vice Presidency is the perfect spot for her at this stage of the game. As one wrinkly old dude to another, I think McCain’s strategy is inspired. I will now rejoin the Republican party and support the ticket instead of a write-in vote for Paris Hilton.

August 30, 5:42 pm | [comment link]
17. CanaAnglican wrote:

Ponnuru says:
“But let’s not underestimate the potential downside.”

CanaAnglican says:
“But let’s not underestimate the potential upside.”

Who ya gonna trust?

August 30, 6:31 pm | [comment link]
18. Ladytenor wrote:

#1 & #4—Ponnuru is a Republican not a Democrat.

So is Kate O’Bierne, who he was quoting. 

Hesitating to dip a toe into the argument, but I have heard it mentioned Obama’s only “executive” experience has been 18 months at the head of an efficient, almost ruthless national operation with a $375 million budget—namely, the one that got him to the nomination.  For what it’s worth, when he set out the experts predicted that the Clinton political machine would crush the innocent newbie.  Instead, we had the smooth, efficient “No Drama Obama” team against the Clinton Gang Who Couldn’t Shoot Straight.  She generated a lot of noise and heat toward the end, but he… well, he won. 

I think McCain’s choice of Palin was a stroke of genius.  I don’t support him, but I respect his savvy and I’m glad he put these cards on the table.  Instead of triangulating with a centrist, he played strongly to his base.  It will be a good race.

August 30, 6:50 pm | [comment link]
19. John Wilkins wrote:

Her experience, compared to Obama’s, is thin.  Still, she may or may not be ready.  We don’t know.  It is more likely that she would become president than Biden, and Biden knows Washington better.  If you want experience in that position, its not just knowing how to shoot. 

I don’t know what Democrats will do.  It does mean that McCain can’t exactly say to Obama that he’s not ready:  McCain is more likely to get ill given his bouts with cancer, so Palin may really be the president.  She was the mayor of a city with 5,000 people and governor of a small state for two years.  If he chose her, then I wonder about how he’s going to attack Obama on “experience.”

As far as foreign policy experience, Alaska is next to Russia, at least, and she’s been giving Alaskan Jobs to Canadians, so she does follow the McCain-Bush tradition.

I agree with the comment that this was wise in that it played to his base.  Unfortunately, it also reveals how radical and revolutionary that base is. 

I will say, that if we compare judgment, McCain did lose on this one.  Obama made a rational choice for someone who has experience.  He chose someone who adds something to the ticket.  What did McCain add?  I’m not sure yet.

August 30, 8:31 pm | [comment link]
20. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: “Unfortunately, it also reveals how radical and revolutionary that base is.”


No, the word is “prophetic” not “radical and revolutionary.”

We conservatives are “prophetic”—radical and revolutionary just like Crew and Jefferts-Schori.

August 30, 9:08 pm | [comment link]
21. CharlesB wrote:

Experience, Shmexperiance.  Blah, blah, blah.  What really matters is values, principles.  I would love Palin to be president, over Biden: Hot-Air-Good-Hair-Shimden.  Who will president? That is who the VP is.  Hoo-ray for this choice.  And the American people really have a choice.  Life, or death.  Partial birth abortion, or dignity.  There is no other choice for a Christian than McCain-Palin.  I am personally happy.  No, ecstatic.

August 30, 9:38 pm | [comment link]
22. St. Cuervo wrote:

#21—That is why I like Palin, it put the lie to all this stuff about women being overwhelmingly pro-choice.  The Republicans, God bless ‘em, haven’t been able to meet that one head on because their party standard-bearers have always been either: 1) men or 2) pro-choice women.  I would pay real money to see Palin and Biden square off on abortion but now I guess I won’t have to…

August 31, 12:13 am | [comment link]
23. MJD_NV wrote:

Obama made a rational choice for someone who has experience.

Obama picked a mentor because of his lack of confidence in his own ability to lead.

McCain picked the next generation from ourside of Washington in order to truly reform.

McCain wins, hands down.

August 31, 5:16 pm | [comment link]
24. John Wilkins wrote:

“Obama picked a mentor because of his lack of confidence in his own ability to lead.

McCain picked the next generation from ourside of Washington in order to truly reform.

McCain wins, hands down.”

That’s a very interesting analysis.  If he had picked someone with LESS experience, he would have been chastized for not choosing someone with more experience.  He can’t win. 

As far as his lack of confidence: to the contrary:  selecting Biden demonstrates humility, honesty, and self-knowledge.  A president who thinks he doesn’t need an experienced staff expresses arrogance.  Obama is clearly not afraid to work with people who have more experience than he does.  Usually, insecure people select staff who are less competent than they are.  Second, it also shows that he is serious about selecting someone who could run the country if, God forbid, something happened to him.  That’s smart and caring for the country as a whole. 

I will concede that Palin may represent some kind of cleansing of the guard.  The Republicans needed it in Alaska.  And they need it in Washington.  Given the number of GOP people who don’t like her, perhaps there is some “there” there. 

Personally, it seems like tokenism to me.  It will, however, shore up the base.

September 1, 12:28 am | [comment link]
25. Juandeveras wrote:

To #24 Hopper -
” Global warming is not caused by man ( just plan old ignorance )...”

Gee, I’m surprised the elves didn’t say ‘hush’ ( because what you are saying is not based on any evidentiary fact ).

“Creationism ( bad theology…..”

Hopper, have you watched a TV show entitled “the big bang machine” ?  The Hubbell Telescope is said by scientists to substantiate the “Big Bang” theory.

September 1, 1:30 am | [comment link]
26. Juandeveras wrote:

Ponnuru does not seem to “get” Palin. She outside of his “box”. He is revealing his youth and naivete. She’ll do just fine.

September 1, 1:43 am | [comment link]
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