Friday, September 12, 2008

So, How Did Palin Do? What's the Historical Precedent?

From my perspective, it is evident that anyone who takes news seriously could have done equally as well as Palin (without the intense coaching she received). Hawkish? Gee, an understatement. She could as easy as anyone send kids to war. Terse? Yes. Her body language was tense. I'd be scared too if I didn't know what I was doing.

Here's what some in the the media thought.

It is important to remember a couple of things. Palin doesn't know foreign policy and no amount of disputing that will change it.

She doesn't. Period.

Palin is being taught and is memorizing positions, positions she cannot assume from ANY kind of experience let alone the bizarre claim she is in control of her state's National Guard (a half-truth and she has not interacted with them once as Governor) and, as several have claimed "she lives next to Russia".

Palin has had two weeks to memorize this mess, including names of foreign countries and their leaders, conflicts, history etc. There is NO question that Biden could run her in circles, and Omaba can too; the former being highly experienced for several decades, and the latter having been in congress, then campaigning for almost 20 months. McCain and Biden are more matched, one being the presidential candidate and the other a vice presidential candidate. But clearly, on foreign affairs, Obama has the greater knowledge when compared to Palin. That is just a fact. When compared to McCain, Obama is the less experienced.

So what does history say about all this?

Let's take a walk through the last 50 or so years to see who and how others got their foreign affairs and other experience leading them to be either president or vice president. You might be very surprised. And the results of some of their experience may be reflected in the success or failure of foreign policy. This is a brief primer, but will give you some color on the last 50 years.


Eisenhower went from the military to the White House (the only general in the 20th century to do so). His running mate and VP, Richard Nixon, had been a member of the house and senate. Before Nixon's eventual rise to his later shamed presidency, Nixon lost a bid for California governor.

Next was Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson (Kennedy defeated Nixon's first White House attempt, but it was a very close race). Kennedy was both a house and senate member prior to election as president. Johnson, likewise, was a house and later a senate member prior to the assassination of Kennedy and his rise to the presidency. Later it was Johnson and Hubert Humphrey. Humphrey was mayor of Minneapolis before going on to the US Senate. Humphrey lost his bid for the presidency to Richard Nixon in 1968 as the Vietnam war was was raging. Humphrey later returned to the Senate and was a member upon his death.

Nixon, as described above, was a house and senate member before being Eisenhower's VP then president. His running mate, Spiro Agnew, had been Governor of Maryland (after a rather troubled series of lower municipal and judge positions). Agnew resigned in October 1973 under the weight of criminal charges of tax evasion and money laundering, only the second president in US history to do so. Later, ironically, Nixon resigned as well, though for very different reasons. Prior to Nixon's resignation, Gerald Ford became VP. Ford had been in the house for over two decades. Upon Nixon's resignation, Gerald Ford became president, the first to do so under the 25th Amendment. He is also the only person in American history to hold both the VP and presidency without being elected to either office. Ford also pardoned Richard Nixon for his involvement in Watergate, an extremely controversial move. He is the only president in history to give sworn testimony before congress (this regarding the Watergate/Nixon pardon debacle). Incredibly (in historical reflection), Nixon's Chief of Staff, Donald Rumsfield, became Secretary of Defense under Ford. Enter Dick Cheney as Ford's Chief of Staff and who also managed Ford's 1976 presidential campaign which Ford lost to Jimmy Carter. Henry Kissinger, a Nixon security advisor, was elevated to Secretary of State under Ford. Brent Scowcroft was a security advisor under Ford. Thus began a GOP dynasty many are familiar with to this day. George H.W. Bush (later president) because CIA Director.

Ford's incoming Vice President was Nelson Rockefeller. Rockefeller served in positions under President Roosevelt including Asst. Sec. of State (1944-45) for Latin American affairs, and served under Eisenhower as Special Assistant. He chaired the President's Advisory Committee on Government Organization through part of the Truman and Eisenhower Administrations (1952-58). Rockefeller later became a four-term governor of New York.

Ford lost the 1976 election to Jimmy Carter. Carter served in the Georgia State Senate and was later the Governor of Georgia. Ford's Vice President was Walter Mondale. Mondale, prior to VP, was a Minnesota State Attorney General, and was appointed to the Senate to fill Hubert Humphrey's position when becoming the Vice President. Previously, he had also worked on Humphrey's campaign. He was later returned by the voters to the US Senate. After being elected to VP on Carter ticket, he was the first VP to have an office in the White House.

Ronald Reagan, a radio and film star turned California Governor, defeated Carter/Mondale and became president in 1981 including a second term extending to 1989. He had worked on the Goldwater campaign after leaving GE (and the democratic party) in 1962 saying (you TECers should get a kick out of this!) "I didn't leave the party, the party left me." While California governor for just a month, he tried to nik into the Nixon's acceptance for president, but failed. He took office in 1981. Reagan's VP was George H. W. Bush who had been in the House for two terms and while running in the presidential primary, lost to Reagan but became his VP ticket companion. He also served as the US Ambassador to the UN, and was on the Council for Foreign Relations for two years between 1977-1979. (also see his involvement with Nixon and Ford, above.)

George H. W. Bush was elected in 1989 with running mate Dan Quayle. Quayle served two terms in the House and two in the Senate from the state of Indiana. Interestingly, one of the main contentions against Quayle was his lack of experience. It was Quayle who was on the other end of the famous " Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy" remark delivered in the Vice Presidential debate between him and VP candidate Lloyd Bensten running with Michael Dukakis.

Bill Clinton defeated George H. W. Bush for a two-term presidency. Clinton worked with the McGovern campaign in his early years. He ran for and lost a bid for the House in 1974, later working as a Senatorial Asst. to Senator J. William Fullbright. He was elected to the State Attorney General position in Arkansas two years later in 1976 and Governor of Arkansas in 1978 (at this time, Arkansas had a two-year Gubernatorial term). In 1980, he lost the bid for re-election as Governor of the state. Clinton ran for and won the presidential election in 1992 against George H.W. Bush. His Vice President was Al Gore. Gore had served four terms in the House, and one in the Senate. In 1988, Gore ran against Joe Biden, Dick Gephardt, Paul Simon, Jesse Jackson and Michael Dukakis in the democratic primary taking third place. Due to a serious accident of his son that nearly took his life, Gore declined to run for president in 1992. He is reported as being very persistent to take the position of VP with Clinton for this reason, but ended up agreeing.

In the 2000 election, Al Gore lost to George W. Bush in an election where ballot box shenanigans paralyzed the country and where the Supreme Court, for the first time in US history, actually took action. This action is attributable to the success of George W. Bush as president for the first term. Bush first ran for a House position in 1978, but lost. He worked on his father's campaign from 1988 to his loss to Clinton in 1989. Bush then went on to challenge Ann Richards for Governor of Texas winning two consecutive terms. In the first year of his second term, he decided to run for president. He ran in the primary against Elizabeth Dole, John McCain, Stever Forbes, Dan Quayle, Pat Buchannan, and Lamar Alexander, going on to win the election twice. Bush's Vice president of two-terms, Dick Cheney, has a long history dating back to Nixon and Ford (see above). He also served five terms in the house. In 2004, Senator John Kerry ran for president on the democratic ticket, but failed to win the seat. He was, at the time, serving his third term as US Senator. Kerry ran, but lost, his bid for a congressional house seat in 1972. He made a successful big as Lieutenant Governor in Massachusetts in 1982. In 1984, Kerry was elected to the US Senate where he remains. John Edwards, Kerry's running mate, was elected to the Senate in 1998, then becoming Kerry's VP choice.

So, here we are to Obama/Biden and McCain/Palin. First Barack Obama. Obama served three consecutive terms in the Illinois state senate. He lost in a bid for the US House in 2000. In 2004, Obama resigned from the Illinois state senate to join the position he was elected to as the Jr. US Senator from Illinois, taking the oath of US Senator in January of 2005. In the senate, he served on the following committees: Foreign Relations, Environment and Public Works and Veteran's Affairs (through 2006). In January of 2007, he took additional assignments on Health Education, Labor and Pensions, and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs also serving as Chairman of the Senate subcommittee on European Affairs. Joe Biden was elected Senator (DE) in 1973 and has served in that capacity to this day (35 years, six terms). He has served as the chairman of the foreign affairs committee for seven years, since 2001 having been on the committee for two decades. Biden is highly respected by both sides and considered to know foreign policy in minute detail, even by his opponents. He has also served on the US Committee of the Judiciary and was its Chairman from 1987 to 1995. He remains on the committee. Biden ran in democratic primaries for president twice, in 1988 and 2008, failing each time to get his party's nomination. He was chosen by Obama as a VP running mate for the democratic party in 2008. John McCain was elected to the House by his Arizona district voters in 1982 and returned to the position in 1984. He ran for US Senate in 1986 and has served four senate terms on the following Senate Committees: Senate Armed Services Committee, Commerce Committee and the Indian Affairs Committee. He was involved as a suspect in the the the "Keating Five" (Lincoln Savings and Loan) scandal and later oversaw an investigation into a scandal over Indian Gaming (Jack Abramoff) which is still continuing to this day. In 1999, McCain announced his bid for the presidency which he lost, George Bush eventually winning both the party and national elections, then returning to the US Senate. He campaigned hard for George Bush in 2000 and 2004. Sarah Palin was elected to her city council in 1992 and re-lected in 1995, then as mayor of the small (approx 6000 persons) town in two consecutive terms. Termed out, she could not run again. In 2002, she ran, but lost, in a race for Lieutenant Governor (primary). In 2006, Palin ran a successful campaign for Governor where she remains.

So, here we are. You be the judge of whether the candidates have acceptable experience for their positions.

If I had to compare her to anyone, it would be Spiro Agnew.