The selection of Governor Sarah Palin as a candidate for vice president reveals more about the intellectual process of John McCain than about any other factor in this race. The Republican nominee for president met Governor Palin once, held a conversation with her, and then made his decision. McCain supporters hail this process as one revealing his willingness to take risks and be decisive. Anyone who has participated in an executive search understands the need for careful investigation of the candidate through extensive discussions and posing them problems they will confront once in office. McCain may have “gut feelings” but, at this point, does he have any awareness of Governor Palin’s grasp of complex international issues? A Republican supporter of Palin last night on CNN responded to the question about her foreign policy knowledge by exclaiming: “Alaska is up there by Russia, of course she knows about foreign policy.” One suspects John McCain’s process of learning about her foreign policy knowledge is not much intelligent than this remark.
John McCain just made his first important executive decision and it revealed a man who is impulsive and lacks sound judgment. He probably never met a conflict or crisis in which resort to military action was not the solution. He has a tendency to go “with his gut,” an approach which can be correct, but also runs the risk of serious miscalculations. Senator McCain is 72 and has had numerous illnesses in his life. Given that background, one would have expected a more conservative and intelligent process of deciding who would be his running mate.
CNN last night presented numerous Republicans who gushed about Governor Palin’s “executive experience.” One could place Alaska in Brooklyn and have millions of people left over. Why didn’t McCain select the Borough President of Brooklyn, after all at least he has executive experience dealing with urban issues? There is no doubt Governor Palin has done important reform work in Alaska, but she has never dealt with urban issues, complex problems of the economy, interacting with people of diverse backgrounds, or international issues. Does she have an extensive background in constitutional history? What exactly does John McCain know about her knowledge?
The United States of America is at an historic juncture in its history. The Republican party has put forth an impulsive man whose reputation is one of anger and resort to violence when thwarted in obtaining his desires and a poorly educated and ignorant individual. Character is an important factor in selecting a president, but after the past eight years of incompetence brought on by individuals who acted on “gut reaction” it is time for an intellectual approach to complex issues.