When does being a governor or mayor for a short period of time not disqualify your credentials on national security? When you are John McCain and your task is to defend your vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
When does being a governor or mayor for a short period of time ABSOLUTELY disqualify your credentials on national security? When you are John McCain and your task is to defeat primary opponents Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani.
Back in October 2007, when McCain's candidacy still appeared dead and buried, the Senator berated the two Republican front runners for lacking the necessary political experience to handle commander in chief responsibilities.
"I have had a strong and a long relationship on national security, I've been involved in every national crisis that this nation has faced since Beirut, I understand the issues, I understand and appreciate the enormity of the challenge we face from radical Islamic extremism," the Senator declared. "I am prepared. I am prepared. I need no on-the-job training. I wasn't a mayor for a short period of time. I wasn't a governor for a short period of time."
Fast-forward nearly a year, and the argument McCain made back then is being used against his vice presidential pick today. Only Sarah Palin held the post of mayor of Wasilla for less time than Rudy Giuliani headed New York City. And her gubernatorial stint in Alaska is shorter than that of Mitt Romney's in Massachusetts.
McCain, not surprisingly, has changed his tune. His campaign has suggested that as head of Alaska's national guard, Palin had more national security experience than Obama. The Senator himself went on Fox News and declared:
"I'm so proud that she has displayed the kind of judgment and she has the experience and judgment as an executive... She's been commander in chief of the Alaska National Guard ... she's had judgment on these issues. She's had 12 years of elected office experience, including traveling to Kuwait, including being involved in these issues. I'm so proud she has the experience and judgment as an executive."
And yet, for critics, Palin's interview with ABC on Thursday evening was an apt demonstration of the criticisms McCain raised about mayors and governors back in October. In her first interview since being tapped as McCain's vice president, Palin showed, in some respects, the limitations of her foreign policy capacity. Time's Joe Klein wrote, "A joke... This woman clearly has no idea what she's talking about. What an embarrassment." Unable to define the Bush Doctrine and contradicting McCain on Pakistan, she acknowledged that she had only visited a handful of countries and never met with another world leader. Then, it was her turn to ridicule the lengthy Washington resume that defines McCain.
"Charlie, again, we've got to remember what the desire is in this nation at this time," she said to the ABC host. "It is for no more politics as usual and somebody's big, fat resume maybe that shows decades and decades in that Washington establishment, where, yes, they've had opportunities to meet heads of state."