I am grateful that John McCain's pick of Sarah Palin has put her experience front and center in the campaign debate. After all, there has been a lot talk about experience. We've heard:
"McCain has the experience to lead."
"Palin has more executive experience than Obama!"
"McCain has more foreign policy experience than Obama."
"Has McCain lost his 'no experience' argument by selecting Palin?"
Maybe experience is very important. What the Sarah Palin VP selection and her relevant experience strongly suggests is that a McCain/Palin administration will bring us four more years of impulsive and ideological decision making.
From the little we know about Palin, we can infer that once upon a time she had a life transforming religious experience that brought her to the fundamentalist belief in creationism. Apparently she has decided that the Genesis I story about the work of an all powerful God is a better "science" than the theory of evolution. If asked, like every other fundamentalist I know (and unlike any scientist I know), Palin will refuse to accept any evidence that her belief in Genesis 1 is false. From this, it is reasonable to say that the United States is again at risk that presidential decisional thinking about war, diplomacy, and human rights will be guided by ideas that are immune to contradictory evidence.
In this respect Palin is like George W. Bush, who according to Seymour Hersh believed his conduct of the war on terror was a divine calling. In the face of mounting evidence of failure in Iraq the President had only a broken record response: "Stay the course." Hersh reports the observations of a former defense official who said of the President, "He doesn't feel any pain. Bush is a believer in the adage 'People may suffer and die, but the Church advances.'"
On October 17, 2004, Ron Suskind in a New York Times Magazine article "Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush", reported instances in which President Bush was guided by his "gut" and his Christian faith in presidential decision making.
But faith has also shaped his presidency in profound, non-religious ways. The president demanded unquestioning faith from his followers, his staff, his senior aids and his kindred in the Republican Party. Once he makes a decision – often swiftly, based on creed or moral position – he expects complete faith in its rightness.
The June 2008 Rockefeller Report on Whether Public Statements Regarding Iraq by U.S. Government Officials Were Substantiated by Intelligence Information of the Select Committee on Intelligence shows the Bush Administration's hyper-ideological commitment to invade Iraq and its refusal to consider evidence that Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction.
Ron Suskind's recent book The Way of The World shows that the Bush Administration not only ignored evidence of the absence of WMD but also falsified evidence to support the Iraq invasion.
Before the invasion in March of 2003 the British had contacted the head of Iraqi intelligence Tahir Jalil Habbush and began to utilize him as a source of information about Iraq's weapons capabilities. British intelligence compiled a report using intelligence obtained from Habbush. The report stated that Saddam had ended his nuclear program in 1991, the same year he destroyed his chemical weapons stockpile. Iraq had no intention, Habbush said, of restarting either program.
The British delivered the Habbush report personally to CIA director George Tenet who briefed the President and Condi Rice. Thereafter, and well before the invasion, the White House buried the report and instructed the British that they were no longer interested in keeping the Habbush channel open. According to Suskind's CIA source: "Bush wanted to go to war in Iraq from the very first days he was in office. Nothing was going to stop that."
The White House …concocted a fake letter from Habush to Saddam, backdated it to July 1, 2001. It said that 9/11 ringleader Mohammad Atta had actually trained for his mission in Iraq – thus showing, finally that there was an operational link between Saddam and al Qaeda, something the Vice President's Office had been pressing CIA to prove since 9/11 as a justification to invade Iraq. There is no link. The letter also mentioned suspicious shipments to Iraq from Niger set up with al Qaeda's assistance. The idea was to take the letter to Habbush and have him transcribe it in his own neat handwriting on a piece of Iraqi government stationary, to make it look legitimate. CIA would then take the finished product to Baghdad and have someone release it to the media.
On the basis of this reporting alone we can say that throughout his presidency Bush displayed an impulsive and hyper-ideological decision making mentality.
In the Sunday August 31, 2008 New York Times writers Elisabeth Bumiller and Michael Cooper report "McCain's history of making fast, instinctive and sometimes risky decisions." His selection of Palin was based on his judgment that Palin was a "kindred spirit."
Piecing together these items of journalistic evidence, McCain, Palin and Bush appear to be three of a kind from the standpoint of decision making mentality. If the Bush/McCain/Palin mentality is religious and hyper ideological, "experience" is irrelevant to their decision making.
Can we place our county in such hands for four more years?