Saturday, August 30, 2008

Parsing a joke

Lindsay Graham, McCain's constant traveling companion and the Tweedledum to Lieberman's Tweedledee, made light Sarah Palin's lack of foreign policy experience in an interview with Wolf Blitzer:
BLITZER: You have a lot of foreign policy experience. You’ve traveled all over the world and met with world leaders. Joe Biden has a lot of foreign policy experience. He’s done the same thing. He’s chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.

Does she have any actual foreign policy experience? 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: You know, I don’t know where she’s traveled to. And I know the people I’ve met. But it’s not meeting people that matters. President Bush met President Putin. And I don’t think it matters just meeting people.

You look at people’s judgment. You know, Governor Palin took on Ted Stevens . If she can take him on, she can take on the Russians.

Graham, of course, is trying to sidestep the issue with a joke, but it isn't an issue that can be made to go away that easily. Her limited experience is a valid concern. While some Democrats might feel hesitation in directly attacking her selection on that basis, they should have no qualms about calling the Republicans on their hypocrisy and double standard in criticizing Obama for lack of foreign policy experience while giving Palin a pass for the same.

Graham's lame attempt at humor caught my attention for two reasons other than its failure to avoid the subject. First, when did Sarah Palin "take on" Ted Stevens? He supported her in her 2006 run for the governor's mansion. He is supporting her now, despite the implicit insult of her scrubbing his earlier endorsements from her website. The agree on most issues and are in lockstep on the issues of economic exploitation of Alaska's resources.

Second, why is a prominent Republican using another prominent Republican as a boogey man? Stevens is under indictment for corruption and seriously facing defeat in a reelection bid for the first time since Palin was in grade school. Has he really become so radioactive that other republican congressmen use him as the but of a joke and paint him as someone who need to be stood up to? Is this a signal that the GOP has given up on their senior member in Congress and decided to throw him under the bus?

An unexpected side effect of Palin's moment in the spotlight might be that it sheds more unwanted light on Stevens' crumbling empire of cronyism and corruption. It also presents an opportunity for the Democrats. While we should be doing our best to hang Bush around McCain's neck, we should work equally as hard to make sure Stevens is firmly attached to Palin.

No comments: