A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed that while Barack Obama retains a cozy lead against McCain, a significant number of Americans view Obama as a “risky” choice for the presidency due to his inexperience. A Rasmussen poll shows a similar discomfort, with an increase of 4% (now at 45%) of Americans who have started to think this way since the beginning of his international sojourn.
Risky? Inexperienced? On this planet?
The United States Senator from the state of Arizona, John McCain, has shown that he is profoundly clueless of what is happening in Iraq. In a recent interview on CBS, he showed that he is unaware of the timeline of events of the so-called surge, he is oblivious to the fact that a key Iraqi leader, Abdul Sattar Abu Risha, had been killed, and he does not necessarily understand the fundamental difference between the Sunni and Shiites.
Unlike McCain, Obama and his plan for withdrawal has been embraced by Iraqi leadership and he has shown, most likely due to not only his intelligence but his membership on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to have a solid and impressive understanding of the intricacies of the war in Iraq. So, who is the “risky” choice? Who do we want to continue to navigate the complex world of Middle East politics?
On the next point, hang with me a minute. In a too-long political science/history academic career, one truth that I learned was that in revolutionary countries, those insurgents who ultimately succeeded had, before winning power, constructed a profoundly effective government-in-waiting, a sort of pseudo bureaucracy, so that they were prepared once taking over a government.
Let’s apply that idea to John McCain. His recently departed chief economic advisor Phil Gramm chastised Americans suffering from high food/health care/gas prices and historic foreclosure rates for being just a bunch of "whiners." Further, McCain’s foreign policy staff is a loose collection of folks with no particular assignment other than spouting their own opinions.
In contrast, Obama has surrounded himself with an impressive group of highly organized advisors. A recent New York Times article described his foreign policy team as a “300-person foreign policy campaign bureaucracy, organized like a mini State Department.” The 300 people are organized into teams that handle different geographic and policy areas and are given specific tasks according to their areas of expertise. The advisors include Madeleine Albright, Samantha Power and Anthony Lake. No lightweights, to be sure.
So, who is riskier? A man whose advisor called America a group of whiners and whose foreign policy team operates without direction? Or someone who has already shown an ability to form a highly competent governmental structure?
Now, I could go on. You probably have examples of your own.
Now, my final point. The task of dispelling the supposed “risky” factor cannot be on Obama alone. Democrats, far and wide, need to vanquish this distinctly untrue rumor. So, at your summer barbecues, during your child’s swimming lessons, around your actual water cooler, defend Obama -- and protect your country.