The Magazine

To Know Her Is To Respect Her

The great Palin divide.

Nov 3, 2008, Vol. 14, No. 08 • By FRED BARNES
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

On foreign and national security affairs, Palin has a knowledge gap. Indeed, if she knew more, she might have skewered Biden for the whoppers he told--about the Middle East, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan--in their debate on October 2. The press, while critical of Palin, didn't notice the inaccuracies either, or at least failed to draw attention to them.

Lack of experience is a recurring issue not only for vice presidential candidates, but for presidential nominees as well. Barack Obama has been attacked for his limited experience in foreign policy. And though Biden, his running mate, has spent 36 years in the Senate, he seems to have learned very little from this experience.

Palin is in a familiar situation. Governors who run for national office automatically face questions about their inexperience in foreign affairs. Ronald Reagan did. Bill Clinton did. So did George W. Bush. Had Obama picked Virginia governor Tim Kaine as his veep, Kaine would have been hit with those questions. If McCain had chosen Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty (as he came close to doing), Pawlenty would have faced the same doubts. So the qualms about Palin's experience are merely par for the course.

Palin's record is another critical test of her personal skill as a leader. What has she done? A lot more than Kaine or Pawlenty or most governors. She ousted an incumbent governor of her own party, successfully fought corruption in the party, and tore up a deal with oil companies, forcing them to accept a less lucrative agreement on a new natural gas pipeline.

In judging Palin, it comes down to who is more credible. Is it those who've worked with her, or know her, or have at least met and talked with her? Or those who haven't? The answer is a no-brainer. Okay, I may be biased on the subject of Palin, having been impressed after spending nearly two hours with her on one occasion and an hour on another.

My advice is ignore the critics who know far less about Palin than she does about foreign policy. A good example is Ken Adelman, who headed the arms control agency in the Reagan administration. Adelman recently endorsed Obama and said he "would not have hired [Palin] for even a mid-level post in the arms control agency." Well, I know both Palin and Adelman. And Ken, I'm sorry to tell you, but I think there are an awful lot of jobs in Washington that Palin would get before you.

Fred Barnes is executive editor of THE WEEKLY STANDARD.