In his column today in the Washington Post, E.J. Dionne Jr. refers to Governor Sarah Palin as a breathtakingly reckless choice and refers to her as Harriet Miers, except without all the experience.
The problem for Dionne, of course, is the Governor Palin is, based on her resume and achievement, better qualified than Obama to be president. Dionne tries to dismiss this by repeating the common Democratic charge: Obama is prepared to be president by virtue of the fact that he’s run for president. In his words, “Conservatives have complained that we barely know Obama. This is nonsense. Obama has been put through the journalistic wringer since he entered the public spotlight four years ago. We have been given fewer than 70 days to get to know Palin.”
Actually, conservatives have not argued that we barely know Obama. In fact, some argue that, like many Americans (apropos the recent Pew poll), we have seen too much of Obama.
The conservative argument is that his past experience — editor of the Harvard Law Review, an unimpressive stint as a community organizer in Chicago, several years as a state senator in Illinois, and less than one term as a United States Senator (most of which has been spent running for President) — makes him among the least experienced people ever to run for the presidency. Obama has no important legislation to his name and no achievements that commend him to be President. That reality is what led Obama’s running mate Joe Biden and his main rival Hillary Clinton, during the primary campaign, to declare that Obama simply was not ready to assume the office. That reality hasn’t changed.
It’s revealing that Obama’s experience was a non-issue to partisan Democrats like E.J. until the Palin pick; now, it has become the issue on which the election should hinge — at least as it relates to the vice-presidential pick (never mind that Biden, while experienced, has been terribly wrong on the most important national security and judicial issues of the last several decades).
The Palin pick may or may not turn out to be wise; it depends on how Governor Palin conducts herself in the coming weeks. And while her governing experience is limited, her achievements actually are impressive – and, to any objective observer, more impressive than Obama’s governing experience. The fact that people like Dionne are so eager to pre-judge Palin, and to do so in a way that borders on sneering and patronizing, says a good deal more about them than it does about Palin. It’s no surprise that for liberal ideologues, what matters is not really experience; what matters is liberal ideology. And in Obama and Biden, we certainly have that, to an unprecedented degree.