September 12, 2008

Obsession with Palin’s Foreign Policy Experience Ignores Total Lack at Top of Dem Ticket 16 Years Ago

How interesting that ABC’s Charles Gibson, as noted in this Associated Press dispatch, focused on Sarah Palin’s foreign-policy bona fides when he interviewed her (a transcript is here). Also note the biased AP evaluation (bolds are mine):

John McCain running mate Sarah Palin sought Thursday to defend her qualifications but struggled with foreign policy ….. acknowledging she’s never met a foreign head of state.

….. She also said she had never met a head of state and added: “If you go back in history and if you ask that question of many vice presidents, they may have the same answer that I just gave you.”

Indeed. Palin’s contention gains more support if you look at the prior experience of at least a couple of presidents and vice-presidents during the past few decades:

  • As Georgia’s governor, Jimmy Carter had little, if any, foreign experience when he ran and won in 1976, though to be fair he had some military background.
  • Dan Quayle was criticized for many reasons in 1988, but I don’t recall the press harping on his relatively light foreign policy credentials. Maybe it was because there was already a great deal of it at the top of the ticket. (Wait a minute — Isn’t the McCain-Palin experience mix analogous? Hmm.)
  • Spiro Agnew in 1968? There’s no need to elaborate, and the same argument made with Quayle applies.

But for the moment, let’s focus on the election of 1992.

As Bill Clinton was challenging GOP incumbent George Bush, media presidential readiness standards in foreign policy were quite different — conveniently so, given the fact that the Democratic nominee was the clear lightweight.

Here’s how the New York Times’s Tom Friedman opened an October 4, 1992 analysis of the foreign policy ideas promulgated by Arkansas governor Clinton (bold is mine):

Under the pressure of a Presidential campaign, Gov. Bill Clinton has been trying to outline his own unique foreign policy, while at the same time fending off criticism from the Bush White House that he is a closet dove masquerading as a hawk and that his experience in world affairs is limited to breakfast at the International House of Pancakes.

Ha ha. Friedman never attempted to refute the criticism of Clinton’s lack of experience, because he couldn’t. In fact, he reinforced points made by the Arkansas governor’s critics (bold is mine):

As a man who has spent his entire career in state government in Arkansas, Mr. Clinton has no foreign policy record to run on or be judged against. Therefore, critics say, he has had the luxury of defining himself purely through a series of speeches. None of his ideas have had to meet the test of the real world.

….. His foreign policy travels as Governor consisted of three trade missions to Japan, Taiwan and other East Asian nations, two to Western Europe and one to the Soviet Union.

It is highly unlikely that Mr. Clinton met a foreign head of state during those generously-named “foreign policy” travels.

Friedman also never referred to Clinton’s vice-presidential running mate, Al Gore, in an attempt to buck up Mr. Clinton’s obvious inexperience. Vice-presidential credibility on foreign policy apparently wasn’t that important 16 years ago, even with a known neophyte at the top of the ticket.

Friedman, in his mind, explained away the Democratic nominee’s problem by:

  • Citing how Clinton had “laid out his internationalist vision in four speeches over the last year.” Do you think the critics would be impressed if Palin gave a few speeches?
  • Noting his reliance on “elder statesmen” — “Clinton has embraced so many advisers that ….. no single adviser stands out as first among equals.” Has anyone questioned John McCain’s foreign policy team?
  • Incredibly, allowing Clinton to frame the domestic economy as a foreign policy issue — not just one of many, but, in a preview of the eight years of convoluted logic we all had to endure, the single most important:

    “In this new era our first foreign priority and our domestic priority are one and the same: reviving our economy,” he said in a recent speech in Los Angeles. “This has been the Administration’s most glaring foreign policy failure. An anemic, debt-laden economy undermines our diplomacy, makes it harder for us to secure favorable trade agreements and compromises our ability to finance essential military actions.

Clinton’s criticism of the “anemic” and supposedly foreign policy-driving economy was made during a year in which economic growth was over 4%.

In his Palin interview, as Gibson went after her foreign policy experience, the Alaska governor struck back adroitly:

She said she brings expertise in making the country energy independent as a former chairman of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

She acknowledged that national security encompasses more than energy but said: “I want you to not lose sight of the fact that energy is a foundation of national security.”

Note to AP: That assertion is better than a “try.” Palin’s concrete tie-in of a specific economic policy issue to national security is much stronger than Clinton’s squishy and falsely premised 1992 generality, and indicates a much firmer grip on reality.

Comparing John McCain’s vice-presidential selection to the Dems’ 1992 presidential nominee, the clear conclusion is: Advantage Palin — even before we get into how Clinton left us vulnerable to the 9/11 attacks.

Cross-posted at

Memo to Andrea and Eleanor: In Ohio, Not College-Educated Women Are Supporting Obama

On August 31 at Newsbusters, Warner Todd Huston caught NBC political correspondent Andrea Mitchell’s assessment about the kind of women who would be supporting the McCain-Palin ticket:

….. they (McCain-Palin) think that they can peel off some of these working class women, not college educated, who, the blue collar women who were voting for Hillary Clinton and may be more conservative on social causes.

Combining Mitchell’s take with the statement by Eleanor Clift (noted by NB’s Brent Baker) that “in many newsrooms” McCain’s pick of Sarah Palin was “greeted by “laughter,” you get the distinct impression that the media believe that women who are supporting McCain-Palin aren’t very smart.

The Mitchell-Clift Maxim isn’t passing the smell test in Ohio, at least if the results of the University of Cincinnati’s Ohio Poll released earlier today (a PDF can be retrieved at this link; HT to NB commenter Dee Bunk) are to be believed.

The overall results show McCain-Palin up 48% – 44%, which is barely outside the poll’s 3.5% margin of error. The demographic results based on education level contradict the Mitchell Maxim in a major way:

  • Those with less than a high school education favor Obama by 63-32.
  • Those with a high school education favor Obama by 49-42.
  • Those who have some college education favor McCain by 52-37.
  • Those who have a college degree favor McCain by 50-44.

There’s no breakdown between males and females within education level, but it’s hard to imagine that McCain is getting a majority of women in the first two categories.

As a resident of the Buckeye State, I can say informally that this result seems to conform to reality.

What was that you were saying, Andrea and Eleanor?

Cross-posted at

Couldn’t Help But Comment ….. (091208, Morning)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:20 am

I missed this until Moderate Mainstream brought it to my attention — What “The One” I refer to as “Mr. BOOHOO-OUCH” (Barack O-bomba Overseas HusseinObambiObama – Objectively Unfit Coddler of Haters) said immediately before he dug his “lipstick on a pig” hole (“Except for economic policies, and tax policies, and energy policies, and health care policies, and education policies, and Karl Rove-style politics”) appears to have been lifted directly from a Tom Toles cartoon in the September 5 Washington Post. Either that, or fellow travelers in the fever swamp have remarkably identical thoughts at about the same time.

Among those who didn’t miss it: Warner Todd Huston at NewsBusters, Fox News (HT NRO’s Media Blog, Extreme Mortman …. and the Republican National Committee. Fox noted that “He did not acknowledge the origin of the quote the first time he used it and credited the cartoon only after the Post contacted the Obama campaign to ask about the first use.”

It could be that Obama is taking plagiarism lessons from an expert, one who happens to be his running mate.


I’ll say it now, based on this (“Battle for Congress Suddenly Looks Competitive “), and intuition — A change in the party controlling Congress is not out of the question. That’s especially possible because the results are based on registered and not likely voters, and we have yet to see the full extent of the Obama crumble and its negative coattails. Of course, lots can happen, etc.


NewsBusters commenter “allanf” coined a term I meant to get to.

The term and its definition are as follows:

Palintologist, n. A new species of digger that has recently emerged. These are Democratic Party diggers who have gone to snowy Alaska in an attempt to unearth dirt on Sarah Palin.

I suspect that the number of Palintologists on duty is inversely proportional to Mr. BOOHOO-OUCH’s electoral prospects — at least until money gets tight.


Exit question: Does it seem like the news about oil’s drop to about $100 a barrel has been awfully muted?

WaPo’s False ‘Aha’ on Palin, Iraq, and 9/11

I guess if the press can’t find anything substantive to throw up against Sarah Palin, making stuff up will have to do.

A front-page article by the Washington Post’s Anne Kornblut crows over what the reporter claims is a gaffe by GOP vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin:

FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska, Sept. 11 — Gov. Sarah Palin linked the war in Iraq with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, telling an Iraq-bound brigade of soldiers that included her son that they would “defend the innocent from the enemies who planned and carried out and rejoiced in the death of thousands of Americans.”

The idea that Iraq shared responsibility with al-Qaeda for the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, once promoted by Bush administration officials, has since been rejected even by the president himself.

Kornblut must have missed the news that Saddam Hussein, who was in power in Iraq on 9/11, is not only not in power, but also quite dead — executed by the current, totally unrelated Iraqi government. “The war in Iraq” morphed from an operation to overthrow Hussein and capture or neutralize his lieutenants to a war against an Al Qaeda insurgency at least four years ago.

Bill Kristol at the Weekly Standard blog (HT Hot Air Headlines) responded strongly just after midnight:

Kornblut’s interpretation of what Palin said is either stupid or malicious. Palin is evidently saying that American soldiers are going to Iraq to defend innocent Iraqis from al Qaeda in Iraq, a group that is related to al Qaeda, which did plan and carry out the Sept. 11 attacks. It makes no sense for Kornblut to claim that Palin is arguing here that Saddam Hussein’s regime carried out 9/11—obviously Palin isn’t saying that our soldiers are now going over to Iraq to fight Saddam’s regime. Palin isn’t linking Saddam to 9/11. She’s linking al Qaeda in Iraq to al Qaeda.

People can debate how intimate that connection is, and how much of the fight in Iraq is now against al Qaeda in Iraq–but it’s simply the case that Palin is not saying what Kornblut says she is, and that the Washington Post is, right now, leading its paper with a clear distortion of what Palin said.

Kornblut appeared to feel the need to take on a job Democrats wouldn’t do yesterday:

On any other day, Palin’s statement would almost certainly have drawn a sharp rebuke from Democrats, but both parties had declared a halt to partisan activities to mark Thursday’s anniversary.

Nice try, Anne. No sale.

We see yet another reason why WaPo’s circulation, along with most other traditional newspapers, continues to decline.

Cross-posted at

Positivity: ‘He saved my life!’ — Wenatchee River rescuer, rescuee reunite over phone

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Othello, Washington:

Article published Sep 5, 2008

Until Thursday, the only things that Joanne Phillips knew about the man who likely saved her life last month was that he was a nurse from somewhere in Canada.

Then came a phone call, and the stranger’s voice on the end of the line said, “Hello. This is Buddy.” After a pause, he added, “I’m the man who pulled you from the river.”

Phillips, a nurse from Othello, said she could not stop thanking the man.

“He kept saying it was no problem,” Phillips said in a telephone interview Thursday. “No problem? He saved my life!”

The two nurses unexpectedly crossed paths on Aug. 8, when 59-year-old Phillips took three young family friends from Moses Lake tubing down the Wenatchee River. Phillips was in an inner tube that was tied to a second one that carried 4-year-old Katelin Noyes. The girl’s brothers, Weston, 7, and Cody, 9, were lashed together in two other inner tubes.

They floated a distance down the river, but when they reached the beach where they were to be picked up, Phillips was too far out in the river to make it to shore. She started paddling her arms in the water, but as she struggled through the current, “All of a sudden I just lost all my energy and I couldn’t breathe,” she said.

Phillips thought it was because she was overweight and out of shape. Out of breath and unable to move, she drifted helplessly down the river with young Katelin in tow.

“I told Katelin that I couldn’t do anything and that she needed to start praying,” Phillips recalled. “She said ‘Heavenly Father, help us’ over and over again. Then she told me she was cold and I told her to keep praying. It was the only way we were going to get help.”

Then on the shore nearby, Cathy Bhandar and others in a group from British Columbia noticed Phillips drifting past the landing beach and yelled for her to come to shore. Bhandar ran to get her husband, Buddy, to see if he could help the woman.

Buddy Bhandar, 53, grabbed his inner tube and used it to swim about 150 feet to reach Phillips and Katelin. He untied them, hooked his feet through the girl’s tube and paddled to shore.

“I remember thinking I’m not going to make it,” said Phillips, who by then was clinging to the tube with one arm. “I just couldn’t hang on anymore.”

When Bhandar headed back out to get her, Phillips had slipped from the inner tube into the river. Her breathing was labored when he reached her.

“That’s when he realized it was something more than just her being tired out,” Cathy Bhandar said. “At first he thought she was having an asthma attack. But then he thought maybe there was something else going on.”

Phillips said she doesn’t remember being rescued and pulled to shore. But she remembers Bhandar telling her that he was a nurse from Canada, and he wasn’t sure how the emergency system worked in the United States.

The Noyes children said to call 911.

Phillips was taken by ambulance to Central Washington Hospital, where tests revealed she had had a massive heart attack. The next day she underwent quadruple bypass heart surgery to open five blockages in her arteries. She spent seven days at the hospital before returning home.

A week later, Phillips decided to search for the good Samaritan who saved her and Katelin. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.