Last week, a couple of Palin endorsed candidates were asked if Governor Palin was qualified to be President. The relevance of that question to a Senatorial campaign and the campaign strategy employed by sidestepping the question could be addressed, but instead let us take a look at the question itself.
There are, of course, Constitutional qualifications for President, but the general intention when a “journalist” asks the “qualifications question” is to determine if a candidate has the necessary tools to effectively govern the nation. However, when qualifications are addressed in a Presidential campaign , such qualifications aren’t determined by journalists, political pundits, politicians, or the political class with their words; they are determined by everyday Americans with their vote. Sometimes qualifications to be president, as determined by the American people, are often the qualities that are lacking in the current administration or at least lacking in the party of the current administration. Such was the case in 2008 when more Americans voted that then Senator Obama was more “qualified” than Senator McCain to be president. Obama was perceived to possess Presidential “qualifications” in greater measure than Senator McCain, and he offered a greater change from the perceived (and sometimes actual) bad policies of President Bush. Beyond the incumbent/challenger comparison, the American people generally look to see which candidate has “greater qualifications” in the areas of leadership skills, proven track record, strong stance on the issues, gravitas, ability to communicate with the public, character, and a whole slew of intangible factors.
The last twenty months have shown to us that we have a President, who despite running on a platform of transparent and accountable government, has closed the doors to government transparency meetings, did not show health care reform discussions on CSPAN as promised, and hid information regarding the severity of the largest oil spill in the nation’s history. On the other hand, Governor Palin during her time as Governor, put the state checkbook online so that her constituents could see where state money was being spent and ensured that all Alaska Gasline Inducement Act (AGIA) applicants’ proposals were available for public consumption.
During his time in office, President Obama has added more to the national debt than Presidents Washington through Reagan combined through massive spending projects like the nearly trillion dollar stimulus package, jobs bill, and health care reform act. President Obama promised to not sign any legislation with earmarks, yet broke this promise. During three legislative sessions as Governor, Governor Palin invested $5 billion in savings and cut spending 9.5 % between her FY10 budget and her predecessor’s FY07 budget. She also cut earmark requests by 80% in a state that has been known for bringing in the D.C. pork.
There are qualifications for President, then there are the Constitutional roles of the President. The Constitution spends a whole section of Article 2 focusing on the President’s role as “Commander-in-Chief”; the Founders saw this as an important role of the President. President Obama has given a speech on both the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and has only mentioned the word “victory”once between the two speeches; there were three references to an exit strategy in the two speeches. President Obama has cut funding for missile defense, desires to reduce nuclear arms, and is suing the state of Arizona for striving to secure her borders. By contrast, Governor Palin cannot give a speech without recognizing the men and women who are fighting to bring victory and defend our freedoms. Governor Palin has spoken against the cuts to missile defense and the desire to reduce nuclear arms, and she stood strongly with Governor Brewer in her desire to secure the border.
President Obama reversed the Mexico City policy, allowing federal funding of foreign abortions as one of his first acts in office. He has signed health care legislation that allows for federal funding of abortion in America. He also has employed a health care adviser who advocates a “complete life system” which states that individuals with special needs “lack the potential to live a complete life”. Governor Palin has given numerous speeches on the pro-life message raising thousands of dollars for the cause and rarely does one of her speeches not support the cause of families with children who have special needs.She has spoken against federal funding for abortion, against the Obama administration’s health care advisers, and lives out the pro-life message every day.
So with regards to the juxtaposition of Governor Palin’s accomplishments and stances (aka “qualifications”) with an unpopular potential incumbent/challenger, Governor Palin is indeed more than qualified. However, qualifications extend further to a litany of other characteristics that the American people look to in determining such qualification.
With regards to leadership, Governor Palin has led a town, a state, and has co-led a family. She has private sector experience in working in journalism and her family’s fishing business. She has public sector experience with her time as city councilwoman, mayor, and governor. She has experience with negotiations between the public and the private sector with her work on AGIA. She worked across party lines with ethics reform legislation. Since stepping aside from the Governor’s office, she has been the leading voice of conservatism. When other supposed leaders are busy sticking their finger in the wind or sitting on the fence when it comes to current policy, Governor Palin has stood strongly for conservative values and commonsense.
With regards to political achievements, in three legislative sessions as Governor, in addition to what has already been mentioned, she forward funded education, passed major ethics reform, revamped the oil taxation code to make it more inline with the Alaska constitution, and increased funding for children with special needs. She rejected stimulus funds that were unsustainable and had strings attached. She stood firmly for the 10th amendment on numerous occasions and was a constant proponent of energy independence. She took on the Establishment of both parties and won.
Regarding a strong stance on the issues, despite the fact that the political class claims she is polarizing, she is in lock-step with the American people on the majority of the issues: immigration, health care reform,off shore drilling, extending the Bush tax cuts,the mosque at Ground Zero, etc. Regarding gravitas, Governor Palin has written, spoken, and commented on issues ranging from the devaluing of the US dollar to the bureaucratization of health care to the Obama administration’s stance on Israel to the overreach of the EPA. She is comfortable discussing social, economic, environmental, regulatory, foreign, and national security issues.
On the “qualification” of the ability to communicate effectively, there is no one better. No one else has equal comfort in speaking to a group of business people in Hong Kong, a group of donors at a college in California, pro-life supporters in Indiana, small town people in Illinois, conservative leaders in Florida, or supporters of political candidates across the country. No other politician is able to use nearly every form of media–television, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, books, op-eds–as a means to communicate directly to the America people. On a face-to-face level, she is able to connect with voters and communicate to them who she is and what she desires for this country.
On the issue of character, Governor Palin has that in spades. No one carries herself with the perfect balance of self-confident humility like Governor Palin. When a candidate wins a primary due in large part to her endorsement, Governor Palin always shrugs off any credit and places the credit on the candidate. As oil and gas commissioner, Governor Palin called out the unethical practices of members of her own party. As Governor, she sought to end the back room deals and improper relationships between oil companies and politicians. In spite of all the frivolous ethics complaints, false accusations, misrepresentations, and smear campaigns that have been thrown at her, she carries herself with class, dignity and grace every step of the way. She wears her patriotism on her sleeve and is always cognizant of both God’s grace at work in her life and the sacrifices of American soldiers for our freedoms. She embraces American exceptionalism, and never passes up an opportunity to express her optimism in the American people and a healthy skepticism in government. Peggy Noonan, for all of her elitism and squishy moderate views, had the opportunity to see the Reagan presidency from the inside, and this led her to write a book called When Character Was King. When the political career of Governor Palin is viewed in retrospect, it would be equally fitting to title a book about her career When Character Was Queen.
So, in short, is Governor Palin qualified to be President? Of course she is. Governor Palin is the anti-Obama. She encompasses leadership, has a sterling record, stands strongly on the issues, communicates effectively, and has abundant character when character seems to be in short supply. The political class may vocalize their thoughts on her qualifications, but Governor Palin’s words, actions, and character speak volumes.
For more on Governor Palin’s qualifications, see here, here, and here.