Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Head-on: Palin's experience

[There are two issues I believe Sarah Palin should tackle head-on: the extent of her experience and Hillary Clinton. The experience issue she can and should address in her RNC speech. I’d like to see her address the Hillary Clinton issue in her RNC speech also but that would be trickier.

I’ll describe what I think she should say about Clinton in my next post. In this one, I provide a draft of what I believe she should say about the extent of her experience.

A lot of people have raised questions about the extent of my experience. Some of them ask if I’m experienced enough to do a good job campaigning. They seem to think I’m going to wilt under the scrutiny or say something stupid or freeze up in the Vice-Presidential debate or reveal I don’t have a thought in my head or who knows what. I can assure you none of that will happen. Well, maybe the saying something stupid from time to time; everyone says something stupid now and then. But I know how to talk to voters about what’s important to them and therefore important to me and I know how to hold my own however bright the spotlight and however big the stage. Americans will see that from me across the country over the next two months and in St. Louis on October 2. By November 4 any concerns about my holding my own on the national stage will be laid to rest.

Some people say I have no experience on the national level and I suppose that’s true. But I’m governor of Alaska and that means I’m an executive. I balance a budget and I balance the competing interests of different parts of the largest State in the Union. I have a Cabinet. I even have a sometimes hostile legislature I have to work with. I know energy policy - especially with regard to oil and natural gas - inside and out. Government at the national level is a bigger version of the same thing. It’s more complicated - and there’s a lot more of the taxpayers’ money involved - but it’s not a whole new ball game for me. My experience in this arena is an issue the voters will be able to judge for themselves in the coming weeks.

Finally, some people say I simply don’t have the foreign policy experience I need. It’s true I can’t claim to match Senator Biden’s long service on the Foreign Relations Committee and I certainly can’t match Senator McCain’s more than 20 years in the military and his service on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Still, I’m not as inexperienced as some people insist. Alaska has important trade dealings with Canada and I am Commander-in-Chief of the Alaska National Guard. I know that last point usually gets a laugh but the Alaska National Guard is the only National Guard on permanent duty and that’s because we face off against Russia. The Cold War may be over but those Russian bombers flying near our borders don’t seem to realize that. Whether my foreign policy experience is enough for the job will be something else the voters can judge between now and November 4.

One final point. I said, “enough for the job”. The job I’m running for is Vice-President. A lot of commentators seem to forget that. To hear them talk you’d think I was going to be President on January 20. They forget Republicans have put experience at the top of our ticket.

John McCain is the one running for President and he has all the experience in campaigning, in national government, and in foreign policy that anyone could want. He’s the quarterback; I’m the backup. During the campaign that means I’ll do everything in my power to help elect him. In the White House that means I’ll sit in on meetings; I’ll learn the plays; I’ll work at whatever jobs the President assigns me; and maybe I’ll even get to take a few snaps when President McCain is otherwise occupied. I’ll be part of the strong team President McCain will build to help him carry out his vision of where this country should go.

And if, God forbid, anything should happen to President McCain, I will be ready with the help of that strong team and the support of the country, to step in and step up. If the Democrats have doubts about my ability to do so then they should simply remember that if they win all the seats in Congress they’re counting on, they can always impeach me.

John McCain believed my experience and my ability would be a valuable part of his team on the campaign trail and in the White House. I trust that over the next 62 days the country will come to see that he was right about me as he has been right about so much.

[Okay, so there’s no way she’s going to include the last sentence in the next to last paragraph. But it would certainly be a show-stopper.]

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