A Question of Experience...

From the moment the McCain campaign announced Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential nominee, the Obama campaign immediately began their attacks and accused her of being grossly inexperienced. That is, however, an unabashed falsehood. In fact, comparatively, it can be argued that Governor Palin has more experience and is far better prepared to be vice-president than Barack Obama is to be president.

While it is true that she has only been governor of her state for two years, Sarah Palin has served 16 years in various public offices. In comparison, Obama has only served 11 years in public office, serving less than four years in the US Senate but spending half of that time as an absentee senator in order to campaign for the presidency. She has extensive executive experience which directly translates into serving as the vice-president and even as the president of the country. Obama only has legislative experience, which does not translate directly into the experience necessary to make executive decisions for the entire nation.

She has served in a variety of positions from councilwoman to mayor to commissioner. Again, Obama has experience in only one area of government in basically one job, first as a state senator and then as an US senator. As governor of Alaska, she is the commander-in-chief of the Alaska National Guard, which gives her direct experience in being responsible for and in command of American soldiers. While Obama has stood in the way of legislation to provide adequate armor systems for military vehicles as well as vowing to slow development of military equipment and systems which could prove to help and protect our troops.

Sarah Palin has direct foreign policy experience in dealing with the Russian government and private parties in matters concerning territorial waters for commercial fishing and matters of airspace for both military and civilian air traffic. She has direct dealings with governmental and private organizations in Canada concerning matters of transportation and finance. She recently negotiated with both private and public concerns in Canada to create a natural gas pipeline to provide clean energy for the lower 48 states. Barack Obama has never dealt with foreign concerns on direct policy negotiations and discussions in a practical sense. It’s far different to talk to foreign leaders in a purely academic sense than it is to actually sit down and hammer out policies that will be put into immediate and actual practice.

Palin began her political career in 1992 (Obama, incidentally, didn’t start his political career until 1997) serving two terms on the Wasilla City Council. In 1996, she began her two terms as the mayor of Wasilla. During her tenure, she significantly reduced property tax levels and also cut her own salary to cut down on governmental spending. While serving as mayor, she was also elected by her peers to serve as president of the Alaska Conference of Mayors. In this role, she worked with local, state and federal officials to serve the needs of and find solutions for the problems of Alaska’s communities.

After leaving the mayor’s office, she was appointed as chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which regulates Alaska’s most valuable non-renewable resources: oil and gas. There, she rallied against legal violations and conflicts of interest by her peers in the government, most of which were members of her own party. She filed complaints against her state’s Republican chairman Randy Ruedrich and Alaska Attorney General Gregg Renkes, both of which were forced to resign and paid record fines.

Palin then went on to not only become the first female governor of Alaska, but also the youngest governor in the history of the state as well as the first governor to be born after Alaska achieved statehood. That’s a lot of history-making for one person in one election. Quite an accomplishment. In the first legislative session of her administration, Governor Palin passed two major pieces of legislation – an overhaul of the state’s ethics laws and a competitive process to construct the aforementioned natural gas pipeline. Palin’s first veto was exercised to kill a bill that would have barred the state from granting health and retiree benefits to the partners of gay state employees, stating that it would be unconstitutional.

Under her administration, Alaska invested $1 billion in the state’s education fund and created the Senior Benefits Program that provides support for elderly Alaskans of low income. She created Alaska’s Petroleum Systems Integrity Office to provide oversight and maintenance of oil and gas equipment, facilities and infrastructure. She also created a special committee to prepare a climate change strategy for Alaska.

Governor Palin serves as chair of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, a multi-state government agency that promotes the conservation and efficient recovery of domestic oil and natural gas resources while protecting health, safety and the environment. She is also vice-chair of the National Governors Association (NGA) Natural Resources Committee, which is charged with pursuing legislation to ensure state needs are considered when federal policy concerning agriculture, energy, environmental protection and natural resource management is formulated.

As governor, she sold off the taxpayer-funded gubernatorial private jet, fired the governor’s personal chef, and dismissed her protection detail on grounds of government waste. She eliminated state taxes on gas while also increasing taxes on oil companies and passed on the increased state income to all citizens of her state by issuing everyone a $1200 rebate. Again, as governor, she cleaned out corruption from the state government by firing several members of the administration appointed by her predecessor, one of which was later convicted of misappropriating state funds. She has challenged the state’s Republican leaders, helping to launch a campaign by Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell to remove U.S. Congressman Don Young from office and publicly demanding Senator Ted Stevens to come clean about the federal investigation into his finance dealings.

For the Obama campaign to outright dismiss Sarah Palin’s experience considering the fact that their own candidate is far more lacking disparages the numerous accomplishments of a woman who has achieved so much and come so far in such a short time while simultaneously being an active mother and wife. The fact is she has far more political and professional experience and far more accomplishments compared to Obama. Taking that into consideration, think about the fact that she is only running for the vice-presidency while Obama is vying for the top spot.