Sarah Palin Needs to Do More with What She's Got

In an outdoor town hall meeting in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Sarah Palin was asked by an audience member to answer concerns about her lack of foreign policy experience. She said: "I think that I'm prepared. We'll be ready. I'll be ready. I have that confidence. I have that readiness. And if you want specifics with specific policies, specific countries, you can ask me. You can even play stump the candidate if you want."

This was a missed opportunity. A wasted chance.

She could have talked about her role as a border governor with Canada. She should have spoken about the unique commerce and trade issues Alaska has dealing with the Pacific Rim countries, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, and so forth. There are defense installations in Alaska that she should be as familiar with as our governor in Arizona is with based military facilities. But she has never referred to any of these. With all of the media coverage following her, if she had, we'd know.

If she doesn't pack some substance based on experience she must surely have, she'll fade out like a shooting star. A candidate with limited capacity like Dan Quayle was bad enough, but the first George Bush was in good health so Quayle was unlikely to succeed him in the middle of the term. John McCain has a history of skin cancers and he's older. The chances of a mid-term succession due to death or illness are reasonably greater. Sarah Palin needs to show she could weather a catastrophic transition. She has to do a better job of packaging and communicating her experience when she has those impromptu moments.

History shows us Harry Truman lived up to the challenge, though he was subject to the same media doubts as Palin when FDR suddenly passed a mere 82 days into his last term in office. Please, if elected, let Sarah Palin be more like Harry Truman than Dan Quayle. Consider that when Harry Truman succeeded Roosevelt and World War II with zero foreign policy background, he went on to make a series of fateful decisions, from dropping the atomic bomb on Japan, to establishing the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan, halting the advance of communism in Western Europe, and overseeing the birth of the United Nations. His conduct of military demobilization post-World War II and the Korean War have been subject to analysis and criticism. But, overall, not bad for someone working off not much more than Midwestern common sense. Sarah Palin would have a Great Northwest version of common sense should the sun, moon, and stars fall on her.

Of course, we'll never know what she's capable of if John McCain isn't elected president.

John McCain had better hope she lives up to voters' expectations in substance as well as popular style. Otherwise, his legacy will be as the fourth Arizonan to try and fail to win the presidency.