"Fortunately, it will be up to the American people and not their self-appointed leaders in Hollywood and New York to determine who really has the better experience to be president."
Sarah Palin vs. Barack Obama
By Gerard Baker*
Democrats, between sniggers of derision and snorts of disgust, contend that Sarah Palin, John McCain's vice-presidential pick is ridiculously unqualified to be president.
It's a reasonable objection on its face except for this small objection: it surely needs to be weighed against the Democrats' claim that their own candidate for president is self-evidently ready to assume the role of most powerful person on the planet.
At first blush, here's what we know about the relative experience of the two candidates. Both are in their mid-forties and have held statewide elective office for less than four years. Both have admitted to taking illegal drugs in their youth.
So much for the similarities. How about the differences?
Obama: Worked his way to the top by cultivating, pandering to and stroking the most powerful interest groups in the all-pervasive Chicago political machine, ensuring his views were aligned with the power brokers there.
Palin: Worked her way to the top by challenging, attacking and actively undermining the Republican party establishment in her native Alaska. She ran against incumbent Republicans as a candidate willing and able to clean the Augean Stables of her state's government.
Obama: A classic, if unusually talented, greasy-pole climber. Held a succession of jobs that constitute the standard route to the top in his party's internal politics: "community organizer", law professor, state senator.
Palin: A woman with a wide range of interests in a well-variegated life. Held a succession of jobs – sports journalist, commercial fisherwoman, state oil and gas commissioner, before entering local politics. A resume that suggests something other than burning political ambition from the cradle but rather the sort of experience that enables her to understand the concerns of most Americans..
Obama: Elected to statewide office only after a disastrous first run for a congressional seat and after his Republican opponent was exposed in a sexual scandal. Won seat eventually in contest against a candidate who didn't even live in the state.
Palin: Elected to statewide office by challenging a long-serving Republican incumbent governor despite intense opposition from the party.
Obama: A very attractive speaker whose celebrity has been compared to that of Britney Spears and who sends thrills up Chris Matthews' leg
Palin: A very attractive woman, much better-looking than Britney Spears who speaks rather well too. She sends thrills up the leg of Rush Limbaugh (and me).
Obama: Makes executive decisions every day that affect the lives of his campaign staff and a vast crowd of traveling journalists
Palin: Makes executive decisions every day that affect the lives of 500,000 people in her state, and that impact crucial issues of national economic interest such as the supply and cost of energy to the United States.
Obama: Regards people who "cling" to religion and guns as "bitter" . Spent 20 years being mentored and led spiritually by a man who proclaimed "God damn America" from his pulpit. Mysteriously, this mentor completely disappeared from public sight about four months ago.
Palin: Head of her high school Fellowship of Christian Athletes and for many years a member of the Assemblies of God congregation whose preachers have never been known to accuse the United States of deliberately spreading the AIDS virus. They remain in full public sight and can be seen every Sunday in churches across Alaska. A proud gun owner who has been known to cling only to the carcasses of dead caribou felled by her own aim.
Record of bipartisan achievement
Obama: Speaks movingly of the bipartisanship needed to end the destructive politics of "Red America" and "Blue America", but votes in the Senate as a down-the-line Democrat, with one of the most liberal voting records in congress.
Palin: Ridiculed by liberals such as John Kerry as a crazed, barely human, Dick Cheney-type conservative but worked wit Democrats in the state legislature to secure landmark anti-corruption legislation.
Former state Rep. Ethan Berkowitz – a Democrat – said. "Gov. Palin has made her name fighting corruption within her own party, and I was honored when she stepped across party lines and asked me to co-author her ethics white paper."
On Human Life
Obama: Devoutly pro-choice. Voted against a bill in the Illinois state senate that would have required doctors to save the lives of babies who survived abortion procedures. The implication of this position is that babies born prematurely during abortions would be left alone, unnourished and unmedicated, until they died.
Palin: Devoutly pro-life. Exercised the choice proclaimed by liberals to bring to full term a baby that had been diagnosed in utero with Down Syndrome.
Now it's true there are other crucial differences. Sen Obama has appeared on Meet The Press every other week for the last four years. He has been the subject of hundreds of adoring articles in papers and newsweeklies and TV shows and has written two Emmy-award winning books.
Gov Palin has never appeared on Meet the Press, never been on the cover of Newsweek. She presumably feels that, as a mother of five children married to a snowmobile champion, who also happens to be the first woman and the youngest person ever to be elected governor of her state, she has not really done enough yet to merit an autobiography.
Then again, I'm willing to bet that if she had authored The Grapes of Wrath, sung like Edith Piaf and composed La Traviata , she still wouldn't have won an Emmy.
Fortunately, it will be up to the American people and not their self-appointed leaders in Hollywood and New York to determine who really has the better experience to be president.
*Gerard Baker is US Editor and Assistant Editor of The Times of London.