Memories from the back of the bus, Part Two

Abe Greenwald, one of my very favorite bloggers, recalls another occasion (this one in January 2008) on which McCain articulated what he’d be looking for in a running mate. This time, McCain said his choice would have strong national security credentials. As Abe goes on to show, Palin has said, in response to questions about Iraq, that she “hasn’t focused much on Iraq” (early 2007) and “is not going to. . .judge the surge” (July 2007).

There’s nothing wrong with the fact that, as governor of Alaska, Palin hasn’t focused on Iraq; one wouldn’t expect her to. And her reluctance to judge the surge in July 2007 is probably a sign of wisdom, and certainly compares favorably with Joe Biden who had already adjudged the surge a failure. But plainly no one can claim that McCain’s choice has strong national security credentials.

And if Palin hasn’t focused on Iraq, is it likely that she has focused on Iran, or on the Middle East peace process? Naturally, she’ll focus on them now, and presumably will embrace McCain’s positions. But what confidence can we have that, at heart, she’s really a McCain style Republican on these matters?

I’m not concerned, by the way, that when she was mayor Palin wore a Pat Buchanan button on the occasion of his visit to her town in 1999. As Palin, explained to the local newspaper, she was not endorsing Buchanan, merely respecting his visit. Apparently Palin was a Steve Forbes supporter, and has never contributed money to, or been affiliated with, the Buchanan campaign.

But there are two streams of thought in the Republican party about how America should relate to the world, and one of them is the Buchanan/Chuck Hagel approach. And there are three main possibilities when it comes to Palin: (1) she agrees with what is now the mainstream, Bush/McCain approach, (2) she agrees with the Buchanan/Hagel approach, and (3) she hasn’t thought much about it.

My guess is that the answer lies somewhere between (1) and (3). But I’d rather be able to examine a track record than guess.

This, moreover, points to a distinction between Palin and Barack Obama. I agree that Obama’s resume is far too thin to recommend his candidacy. But Obama has been thinking about and discussing (albeit often contradictorily and/or foolishly) the big foreign policy and national security issues for at least four years. Palin hasn’t been.

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