Speaking Of Judgment

10/04/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Let's examine the first decisions both presidential candidates made as standard bearers of their respective parties. Barack Obama considered the long list of potential vice presidential candidates, including many who shared the primary stage with him through a very long season.

After careful deliberation, he chose Senator Joe Biden, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and past Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senator Biden is acknowledged to be one of country's most knowledgeable and respected authorities on foreign affairs. He has significant personal experience with many of the world's leaders and has visited most of the countries of greatest significance to America. His voting record and leadership role on issues of import to women is outstanding. There is no question in anyone's mind that Joe Biden would be ready on day one to step in to the role of President of the United States and Commander in Chief should any unfortunate circumstance arise creating that necessity.

John McCain, in his first exhibition of presidential judgment, chose as his running mate, Sarah Palin, who has served as governor of Alaska for less than 2 years. Her previous experience was as mayor of her small town of just over 5000 people. Senator McCain met Governor Palin for the first time this summer and spent 15 minutes with her. It was during this initial meeting that the Governor informed Senator McCain that her daughter was pregnant and unmarried. In view of the fact that some important follow-up questions had to be asked concerning that disclosure, one wonders how much "vetting" could have occurred during the remaining moments with this vice presidential nominee.

Only recently the story changed, and it now appears that the pregnancy information may not have been revealed at that meeting. It is also interesting to note that Governor Palin acknowledged that she has not thought much about Iraq. However, she has given a lot of thought to how to treat women who have been rape victims. She decided, in her judgment, that these women should be treated as criminals. I say that because she takes the position that abortion should be outlawed throughout the country regardless of the reason for the abortion. In her view, there should be no exceptions for rape, incest, or the health of the mother. Perhaps she would argue in her defense that she doesn't want to make the women criminals, but rather the physician. Following up on that theory, that would mean that any doctor that had a patient that was a victim of a violent rape, regardless of the physical condition of the rapist, (drugs, aids, etc.), should turn away his patient and not provide her with the mental and physical relief she sought.

Sarah Palin also has zero experience in foreign affairs and has not traveled outside the country in any significant amount. She didn't even have a passport for the first 40 years of her life. The idea that she could be a heartbeat away from being President of United States and Commander in Chief and the most powerful person in the world is absolutely unthinkable.

I strongly believe that Senator McCain's motivation in selecting Sarah Palin as his running mate was two-fold: Solidify his base and energize the right wing of his party, and try and capture the female supporters of Hillary Clinton, who were disappointed that Hillary wasn't chosen as the vice presidential nominee. To me, this is so demeaning to those supporters who genuinely believe in the many issues that Hillary Clinton so articulately supported.

The idea that Clinton supporters would abandon their beliefs regarding a women's right to chose, quality healthcare for each and every American, pulling out of Iraq on a definitive time table, equal pay for equal work, the appointment of progressive judges to the Supreme Court who will uphold Roe v. Wade, among other issues, is absolutely ridiculous. I doubt these Hillary supporters want someone who supports teaching creationism in our schools. If Senator McCain wanted to appoint a woman to offset the ticket and project the image of change, there were so many more qualified female candidates who have the experience and judgment necessary to step in to the Presidency should anything happen to the Senator.

The aforementioned vice presidential choices present an opportunity to examine the judgment of the candidate making those choices. Every voter deserves to have an opportunity to know everything about both candidates on each party's ticket. Both Senator Obama and Senator Biden have been thoroughly vetted over the last 18 months, as has Senator John McCain. The idea that a woman of such limited experience should suddenly emerge on the national stage and be a heartbeat away from the Presidency without a thorough vetting process is very scary. To me, anyone who puts the citizens of America in that position exhibits very poor judgment.