today in black history

February 20, 2024

Military leader Idi Amin overthrows the Obote government and becomes the president and ruler of Uganda on this date in 1971.

Shell Game

POSTED: September 08, 2008, 12:00 am

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For the last seven months the mainstream media has fully bought into the rhetoric that Senator Barack Obama may lack the experience, knowledge and judgment to be Commander in Chief. Remember, it was Senator Hillary Clinton who first suggested that Obama does not have what it takes to lead. She said that “Senator McCain brings a lifetime of experience to the campaign, I bring a lifetime of experience and Senator Obama will bring a speech that he gave in 2002.” Though it was initially raised by Clinton, the McCain camp seized upon that theme and drove it home through a series of ads that featured Obama as the biggest celebrity on the planet, asking the final question, “But is he ready to lead?”

Many political observers suggested that the question of Obama’s experience and judgment was resonating with the American people. Obama’s national Gallup Poll lead shrank from 48%-42% to an even 45%-45%. Some polls even showed a McCain advantage.

Now comes vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, the 44 year old Governor of Alaska, whose only experience before assuming that office was two terms on the Wasilla City Council from 1992 to 1996, and a stint as Wasilla’s mayor in 1996. She was ushered into the State House on a wave of voter dissatisfaction with the old regime.

“She is ready to be President,” McCain remarked in their first appearance in Ohio. But in choosing Palin to be his Vice President, John McCain has completely undermined his argument about Obama’s experience, judgment and readiness.

Though she deserves some credit for her service as Governor for nearly two years, Alaska is not California, New York, or even Arkansas. Alaska ranks 48th out of 50 states in population. It is the least densely populated state in the nation. Because of petroleum revenues and federal subsidies, Alaskan governors don’t have to worry about income taxes, and property taxes are also exceptionally low.

Sarah Palin’s educational experience? She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in journalism from the University of Idaho. Her foreign policy experience? None. Significant federal legislation that she drafted? None. In fact, a review of her record suggests that she has taken no stances on foreign policy, free trade or governmental reform.

McCain, at 71, would be the oldest first term president ever elected. Let’s be honest here. There are some odds driven by mortality and his personal health that John McCain might not finish his term if elected.

Is Sarah Palin ready on day one? Is she ready to lead? Does she pass the Commander in Chief test? At 3:00 a.m. when that infamous phone rings in the White House, what evidence is there to suggest that she has the judgment to make the right decisions? These were legitimate questions for Barack Obama. Clearly they are legitimate questions for Sarah Palin.

Part of the process of electing a President or Vice President is knowing that Palin, or any other candidate, has the intellectual capacity to handle the job. There is no doubt, having been through the rigors of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, that Senator Obama has that capacity. What do we know about Sarah Palin?

This is not about intellectual elitism. It is about the ability to handle the most intellectually demanding and challenging job on the planet. No, you don’t have to be a lawyer to be president. No you don’t even need to have an advanced degree as was made evident with the election of Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. But when you lack substantive experience to demonstrate your capacity, academic credentials can be reassuring.

Nor has her short reign as Governor of Alaska been scandal free. Currently, Governor Palin is the focus of a state ethics investigation as part of the so-called "Troopergate" scandal, involving the firing of a State Police chief over his reluctance to fire an Alaska state trooper, Palin's former brother-in-law, who has been involved in a bitter custody fight with her younger sister.

The mainstream media has been relentless in its pursuit of Senator Obama and in perpetuating the questions relative to his ability to lead, his experience and his judgment. Rezko, Wright and Ayers dominated the airwaves for months and continue to do so. What will they say about Sarah Palin?

And in a race where Michelle Obama has been demonized for her assertiveness and forced to validate her status as a non-militant family woman and mother, what will they say about Sarah Palin’s decision to leave her five children, including a four month old Downs Syndrome child, for the grueling travel and daily grind of the campaign trail?

If they are fair, they will ask the tough questions. They will dissect her qualifications. They will investigate the scandals thoroughly. But they’ll need to do more than that. In a race where a Black Harvard Law School educated United States Senator faces real scrutiny about his qualifications, they’ll need to challenge the hypocrisy of the McCain camp, and their own, in claiming that Sarah Palin is ready to be President while suggesting that Barack Obama is not.

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