GOP Flails To Keep 'Experience' Issue Alive

10/02/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Back when the McCain camp was firmly pumping out oppo criticizing Barack Obama's experience, they knocked the Democratic nominee for never having been to Iraq or Afghanistan. And when Obama was poised to go to Iraq and Afghanistan, the McCain camp derided Obama for coming to strategic conclusions in advance of his arrival. And when Obama's trip turned into a smashing success, the McCain camp poked fun at how the trip was too successful. Somehow, America allowed this nonsense to happen.

But now that McCain has chosen Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his vice president, the "experience" argument has been torn into a million tiny little slivers. And that has forced McCain's surrogates to furtively scramble to pick up enough shreds with which to make some papier-mache.

One such surrogate was Lindsey Graham, out in force this Sunday, attempting to apply the new McCain alchemical hoodoo to Sarah Palin's lack of substantive foreign policy experience. ThinkProgress records the relevant exchange:

BLITZER: Has she met with world leaders like you have, like Biden has? Has she really gone around the world and done any of those things?

GRAHAM: I don't know where she's traveled to ... But it's not meeting people that matters. You know, President Bush met President Putin. And I don't think it matters just meeting people. You look at people's judgment.

One should note Graham's "I don't know where she's traveled to" statement, which is further proof that no vetting of Palin seems to have taken place.

Graham adds, "Governor Palin took on Ted Stevens. If she can take him on, she can take on the Russians." Graham also offered that bon mot on This Week, and at the time, I mused, "That's just the dumbest thing I have ever heard." After I wrote that, I thought better of it, and considered whether I may have been speaking prematurely. After all, just as Palin has enjoyed a coincidental proximity to Russia, I have five years experience living across the street from an Italian bodega, so maybe I have the sufficient experience to make delicious cannolis and just don't know it yet.

Unfortunately for Palin and Graham, however, I can now reassert the essential stupidity of that statement, because, as it turns out, Palin doesn't have that good a record where standing up to Ted Stevens is concerned:

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin began building clout in her state's political circles in part by serving as a director of an independent political group organized by the now embattled Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens.

Palin's name is listed on 2003 incorporation papers of the "Ted Stevens Excellence in Public Service, Inc.," a 527 group that could raise unlimited funds from corporate donors. The group was designed to serve as a political boot camp for Republican women in the state. She served as one of three directors until June 2005, when her name was replaced on state filings.


Palin, an anti-corruption crusader in Alaska, had called on Stevens to be open about the issues behind the investigation. But she also held a joint news conference with him in July, before he was indicted, to make clear she had not abandoned him politically.

So, I'd say that Vladimir Putin has little to fear from America's Next Top Caribou Huntress.

Suggest a correction