I had the honor of seeing Governor Sarah Palin accept the Republican Vice Presidential nomination last night at the Xcel Center in St. Paul.  Gov. Palin was everything she needed to be and then some.  In fact, she was so charismatic that even I began wondering why I wasn’t voting for her.

Charm aside, however, she made a statement that really bothered me.  She said that she has been attacked by the “media” because she was not part of the “Washington elite.”  I wish that were the case. 

I don’t consider myself part of the “media” per se; nor have I been attacking her (I don’t care about her personal life), but I have been critical of her lack of exposure to national and international affairs.  Although he is healthy today, the fact remains that McCain is an elderly man who has had several bouts of skin cancer.  If anything happens to him, his Vice President will have to be prepared to immediately take over as the President of the United States.  No one can question Senator Joe Biden’s ability to do this.  Can they say the same of Governor Palin?

Palin’s supporters keep saying she has “executive” experience because she is a state Governor.  With all due respect, being governor of a frozen tundra for a year and a half doesn’t cut it—not when we are electing a war President during an economic recession.       

Moreover, this “executive” experience at the state level may prepare her for inter-branch politics but it doesn’t prepare her for national AND international politics, pressures, or law—all of which suddenly become extremely important when one is the executive not of one state but of ALL the States in the Union. 

Being a U.S. Senator can, on the other hand, prepare a candidate for these pressures and issues because the Senate was created to consider the best interests of the nation as a whole as well as those of the individual states.  This is a perspective that a Governorship neither requires nor conveys.  This is a perspective and an experience that Palin lacks and Obama does not. 

What Obama has done in as a Senator in DC, which Palin has not as a Governor in Alaska, is considered legislation of national scale and significance, legislation that affects this nation as a whole, from our national appropriations bills to our emergency war spending to economic stimulus packages to ethic reforms.  He has been briefed and advised on national issues and made decisions accordingly—from negotiating changes in language, to co-sponsoring, to voting (or not).   And he has experienced the very real consequences of those decisions. 

Obama has been mocked for “running for President” for the past 19 months.  In that time, he has been taking on and debating every issue that impacts every American inside and out, from foreign policy to health care to our reliance on foreign oil, for a brutal primary season.  Meanwhile, somewhere in Alaska, Palin sat down at her computer and put the state jet on eBay. 

Don’t misunderstand me.   Sarah Palin was incredible last night and clearly a force to be reckoned with (which is why I intuitively like her).  But I don’t know what else she knows and/or can do and if we are looking at her governorship of Alaska as some proof of what she knows or can do vis a vis Senator Obama, then she falls short. 

Consequently, I think our old assumptions about what it means to be a Governor (good!) as opposed to a Senator (bad?) with regards to running for President needs to change because, upon closer analysis, it doesn’t really pan out. 

Carissa Picard is a freelance writer, an attorney and a mother of two whose husband is currently serving in Iraq for fifteen months. 

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