I should say first that I’d prefer not to talk about my political preference. Other websites debate political theory better than I could. I post this because you asked me for my opinion on the Vice Presidential (VP) debate and Karen asked me to watch the debate. You know I’m a registered Republican but Georgia (美国乔治亚州) allows me to vote any party and I have done so on occasion in the past. I respect McCain’s experience in a way that only another vet could, and I admire Obama’s oration and self-made American dream come true. I’m equally excited about the black male candidate, white female candidate, or third party hopeful. I agree that we need as dramatic a change in the US as the candidates’ are atypical. I prefer to make my own voting decisions based on information I get from multiple US and non-US news sources in English or any other language. The following comments relate to the VP debate.
I have 2 specific comments to make about the debate. These 2 items seemed quite obvious to me and rather important, considering it’s the next Vice President of the United States of America that’s in discussion. In fact, considering the age of McCain, I think it’s reasonable to use Palin in a what-if scenario where she becomes President.
1) No opinion of her own
Palin doesn’t often reveal her own thoughtful opinion as often as she cites McCain’s opinion and (extraordinary) experience. I’ve seen several interviews where Palin did not have a chance to prepare her arguments as well as she might have prepared for the VP debate, and those interviews have shown her as someone who is ignorant about issues and legislation that are imperative or at least sensible for a President to be familiar with. Her VP debate was prepared, so her performance was as polished as her acclaimed performance on Saturday Night Live. She’s been cited as being someone who would make a natural entertainer, simply due to her comfort level in front of the camera, but I wouldn’t confuse this comfort in front of the camera with the readiness of the President of the United States. If it’s true that the US public has grown accustomed to sound bytes and infomercials rather than facts, figures and dry debates, or that the US public bases its political preference on a candidate’s celebrity appeal, then Palin was definitely the winner in this debate. She was just enjoyable to watch on camera. She’s more of a celebrity than stiff white male Biden. He’s old and not at all charming or quirky or quotable. He doesn’t use those cute rural slangs. He’s not as appealing in front of the camera. He’s not as sexy. Is this important in your decision making process when deciding who to vote for (Vice) President of the United States?
With Palin’s general lack of knowledge and familiarity with Washington politics and the world in general, she talks less like a President of the United States and more like a devoted Christian mother. She talks like you Mom. I see her devoted loyalty to John McCain synonymous with her blind faith in her higher power. God is the Father who will watch over us all and be just, compassionate, etc. John McCain is the male Presidential candidate who is righteous and fair and decent, etc. I would not prefer the U.S. President pray for rain rather than develop a sound plan of action, just as I would not demand my vote ensure a candidate whose religious practice is familiar to me. Because of her love of family and faith, I respect her as I would respect an equally devoted Muslim, Jewish, Hindu or Budhist woman, but devotion to family and faith are not the exclusive requirements for the office of President of the United States.
I’m with God. I’m with John McCain. Unquestioningly! Just because Palin is a member of a religion I’m familiar with doesn’t make that believer potentially less fanatical and we should mind this idea, as recommended by the U.S. Constitution’s 1st Amendment. In the United States, politics and religion have a delicate but powerful mix. They are officially separate but unofficially have never been separate. I agree that it’s important for any U.S. President’s loyalty to his/her higher power not be confused with his/her loyalty to people. Considering this current example, I appreciate that Biden disagrees with Obama on some issues and that the 2 have a political history of this to prove it. There isn’t this apparent adoration or blind loyalty between them, maybe there’s even some small conflict. That’s good. Conflict has been an integral and necessary part of the U.S. political system since the birth of the U.S. political system. Palin seems so oddly loyal to everything about McCain. I have yet to hear her disagree with him about anything at all and unfortunately she doesn’t have much of a political history to refer to about such matters. Perhaps she simply doesn’t know enough to disagree? If you find an example where Palin asserts herself in this fashion, please share that example with me. Until that time, I remind you that the United States’ Constitution was written to ensure U.S. citizens the right to question authority, not follow it completely, blindly, and without reservation. As an informed and educated U.S. citizen, doesn’t 100% political compliance seem strange to you? Does even John McCain’s wife agree with him 100% of the time?
The VP should be prepared to be the P. With McCain’s age, again this is a genuine and sensible concern. What happens if Palin really becomes The Big P? We can only hope and assume that by then Palin will be at least as partially knowledgeable, experienced and well-connected as McCain and will have the ability to be one of the world’s most important, powerful and influential leaders at a pivotal time in U.S. history.
2) The GCE
When someone asks me why I’ve come to China, I usually ignore the question because it should be obvious by now why anyone would come to China. However, the simple answer is the true answer. If we discuss the future generations of U.S. citizens—our grandchildren and their kids—our discussion will include China’s influence. Period. Whoever becomes the next President of the United States will be intensely involved in foreign policy and diplomacy with foreign countries. It’s inevitable, if only because of China’s ascent.
The next President of the United States should have the understanding necessary to improve chances for successful diplomatic relations with foreign nations. Non-diplomatic solutions like military involvement are unrealistic, if only considering the natural limitations and current operations of U.S. forces. (We can only fight so many people at any one time.) Sanctions require international support and that would require diplomacy. Additionally, the world is largely influenced by economic forces that prevent countries from isolating themselves. The United States, as others, must work with foreign nations for the sake of its own people. Pain in the arse it might be, diplomacy is inevitable.
In Naval Nuclear Power School, we studied engineering theory. We were also taught an expression to use when an operator completely misunderstood a theory. The expression was “gross conceptual error” or “GCE.” The GCE was as bad as you could get, since the safety of the nuclear plant rested on the combined effort of people who needed to understand what they were doing in the nuclear plant at all times. You had to understand everything at all times, in order to operate safely and save lives. I’ve discovered Palin’s GCE, and it’s in regards to foreign policy.
From the debate transcript:
IFILL: Governor, nuclear Pakistan, unstable Pakistan, nuclear Iran? Which is the greater threat?
PALIN: Both are extremely dangerous, of course. And as for who coined that central war on terror being in Iraq, it was the General Petraeus and al Qaeda, both leaders there and it’s probably the only thing that they’re ever going to agree on, but that it was a central war on terror is in Iraq. You don’t have to believe me or John McCain on that. I would believe Petraeus and the leader of al Qaeda.
An armed, nuclear armed especially Iran is so extremely dangerous to consider. They cannot be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons period. Israel is in jeopardy of course when we’re dealing with Ahmadinejad as a leader of Iran. Iran claiming that Israel as he termed it, a stinking corpse, a country that should be wiped off the face of the earth. Now a leader like Ahmadinejad who is not sane or stable when he says things like that is not one whom we can allow to acquire nuclear energy, nuclear weapons. Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong Il, the Castro brothers, others who are dangerous dictators are one that Barack Obama has said he would be willing to meet with without preconditions being met first.
And an issue like that taken up by a presidential candidate goes beyond naivete and goes beyond poor judgment. A statement that he made like that is downright dangerous because leaders like Ahmadinejad who would seek to acquire nuclear weapons and wipe off the face of the earth an ally like we have in Israel should not be met with without preconditions and diplomatic efforts being undertaken first.
IFILL: Governor and senator, I want you both to respond to this. Secretaries of state Baker, Kissinger, Powell, they have all advocated some level of engagement with enemies. Do you think these former secretaries of state are wrong on that?
PALIN: No and Dr. Henry Kissinger especially. I had a good conversation with him recently. And he shared with me his passion for diplomacy. And that’s what John McCain and I would engage in also. But again, with some of these dictators who hate America and hate what we stand for, with our freedoms, our democracy, our tolerance, our respect for women’s rights, those who would try to destroy what we stand for cannot be met with just sitting down on a presidential level as Barack Obama had said he would be willing to do. That is beyond bad judgment. That is dangerous.
No, diplomacy is very important. First and foremost, that is what we would engage in. But diplomacy is hard work by serious people. It’s lining out clear objectives and having your friends and your allies ready to back you up there and have sanctions lined up before any kind of presidential summit would take place.
Palin’s expressions “…some of these dictators who hate America and hate what we stand for, with our freedoms, our democracy, our tolerance, our respect for women’s rights,…” is political dogma designed to establish unanimous support for war and was used frequently by President George W. Bush after September 11, 2001. Like other Americans, I appreciate Palin’s firm, unapologetic stand on dealing with known hostile world leaders because I love a strong leader. However, her use of this political propaganda is indicative of a GCE at the highest levels of U.S. government. Again.
Living outside the United States, I often ask people if they admire the United States and why. People most often tell me they admire the U.S. for the freedoms that Americans have at their whim and disposal. I’ve never met anyone who hates freedom or tolerance. I’ve met and talked to people and have read about people in foreign media who have adverse feelings about America because of international misunderstandings that Americans seem to be completely unfamiliar with and/or in disregard of. I hear a lot about that. That Americans are free people is not a problem, it’s what the U.S. doesn’t know about it’s neighbors that’s hurting us, and when politicians say “our enemies attack us because they hate our freedoms,” it’s misguided and reveals a rather shocking void of understanding of the entire world outside the United States.
That Palin uses this argument tells me that her “first and foremost” ideological approach to diplomacy would be fundamentally flawed at the beginning and would therefore stand less chance of being successful. It’s best to have friends, but it is an ancient rule of strategy to know thy enemy. If you truly don’t understand what your enemies are thinking and believing then you are at a strategic disadvantage. It’s delusional to think we would have great success going into diplomatic relations if we held assumptions that were not true, so the same old situation of tense, non-diplomatic alternatives would likely continue and/or escalate and we would stand a greater chance of seeing more of the same bad diplomatic situations or worse. It doesn’t help the situation that Palin has traveled so little: Canada (which doesn’t count and we Americans know it), one trip to visit troups in Kuwait and Iraq, and Germany. I think it’s difficult for anyone to place themselves mentally where they’ve never even been physically near to. I don’t believe it’s possible to fathom the diversity of the world’s population with imagination alone.
That Palin says diplomacy involves “having your friends and allies back you up there” is a little disconcerting and again reveals her oversimplification of the complexity of modern global politics. How does Palin expect to have international friends if she works with a diplomatic GCE? How can Palin expect to gain any alliances when she approaches diplomatic relations with false assumptions and a lack of understanding of the countries with whom she needs to work? Again, both of the VP candidates were working with prepared or practiced arguments. This might be Palin at her best so far, and she’s working with these flawed assumptions. If McCain wins the election Palin may have an opportunity to learn about these flawed assumptions and correct them, but we have to hope that the opportunity will present itself and that Palin will take that opportunity rather than stand her defensive ground for the sake of her political career, popular American opinion, and/or out of sheer ignorance and lack of any differing idea among her administration. I don’t agree that the United States can afford to vote on the chance that vital foreign relations and communications will be successful after some trial and error. We need success, without delay.
Mom I don’t want to be more informed than our President, and a candidate having good intentions is simply not good enough. With McCain as old as he is, it’s reasonable to consider the what-if scenario of Palin becoming the President of the United States. I don’t condone popular American media’s blind approval or character defamation of her, but honestly I see Palin as someone who could be much more prepared for the immense responsibility of either office—President or VP. A clueless person is not the same as a fresh face, and right now the US needs leaders who can understand the complex nature of global politics and work with foreign nations expeditiously. I don’t jump for joy over more white male power, but Biden has more experience with foreigners, and he disagrees with Obama some. Maybe Obama + Biden compliment each other’s weaknesses in a way that I fail to see with McCain + Palin. At worst, Palin seems sycophantic and clueless, not unlike Dan Quayle: entertaining and at times unreal. At best, Palin seems like a very religious woman determined to have a go at doing the right thing according to McCain and her own simple understanding. Can we afford that right now? Your choice.