Colin Powell, I can understand. But Ken Adelman — his endorsement of Obama — is far harder. One could write a psychological essay several pages long, I suppose. But let me just concentrate on a couple of points — both having to do with the vice-presidential nominees.
Adelman says, “Not only is Sarah Palin not close to being acceptable in high office — I would not have hired her for even a mid-level post in the arms-control agency. But that selection contradicted McCain’s main two, and best two, themes for his campaign — Country First, and experience counts. Neither can he credibly claim, post-Palin pick.”
I probably wouldn’t hire her for a mid-level post in the arms-control agency either. She is not a policy specialist or a bureaucrat: She is a politician. And one must not disdain politics. Vice-presidential nominee is a political job. Unlike Adelman (I believe), me, and most people, she has run for office: and she has won. She has huge political talent, something that doesn’t fall from trees. I hazard that talented politicians are rarer than people who are qualified to staff agencies.
She knows how to communicate with people and how to rouse people. And, in her short time in Juneau, she has shown a talent for governing: an excellent head, heart, and spine. All politicians — certainly all governors and such — are generalists. They are not specialists, although they might specialize in an area or two (Palin has energy), and they aren’t necessarily made to walk three steps behind a principal, carrying papers. They are the principal.
I was against Palin’s selection as vice-presidential nominee, as I was against Governor Jindal — and for one of the reasons Adelman cites: the experience business. “How can you fault Obama for being green and unprepared,” I said, “if you have Jindal or Palin as your running mate? You would take your best weapon out of your hands. McCain would be the oldest man ever elected, and people worry about his health, and . . .” — blah, blah, blah. You remember those arguments, from eons ago.
But you can’t have everything in a running mate: and Palin brings plenty to the table. (Whether that puts McCain over the top is another matter. Don’t bet the ranch on it. But he is responsible for his own campaign, his own debating, and his own vote-getting. A running mate can only do so much.)
Finally, a word about Joe Biden: He and Adelman have disagreed on pretty much everything for the last many, many years — having to do with the Soviet Union, Iraq, and the world itself. The nature of the universe! You can’t find two people farther apart than Biden and Adelman. Obama, we can’t really speak of, because he has no record. (Though he surely would have been with Biden in the Cold War and so on.) But Biden has a long, long record, shot through with errors.
As I said, Powell, you can understand — but this is mighty weird.