The Gray Lady Experience

The New York Times editorial board scoffs at Sarah Palin and her qualifications to be Vice President.  In its lead editorial, the Gray Lady states that Palin has no “national or foreign policy experience” and is therefore unqualified to be “standy president”.  For some reason, they don’t seem troubled at all about Barack Obama’s complete lack of foreign-policy experience or his short three years in the Senate, two of which he’s spent running for the top job:

It is well past time for Sarah Palin, Republican running mate, governor of Alaska and self-proclaimed reformer, to fill in for the voting public the gaping blanks about her record and qualifications to be vice president. …

Voters have a right to hear Ms. Palin explain in detail her qualifications to be standby president with no national or foreign policy experience. More is required of any serious candidate for such a high office than one interview with questions put by one selected source.

They also include this Obama Campaign snipe:

She could explain, as well, why she was for the Bridge to Nowhere when it was first proposed and reversed field once it became a symbol of legislative abuse.

Have they asked Barack Obama and Joe Biden to explain their votes in support of this “symbol of legislative abuse”?  After all, they were the legislators who helped it pass Congress in the first place.  She “reversed field” to stop the abuse, something neither Biden nor Obama bothered to do.  So who needs to provide the explanation more, and why isn’t the Times demanding it?

And on experience, the Newsbusters note that the Paper of Record doesn’t bother checking its own.  In a July 1984 editorial, the New York Times wrote a stirring defense of finding running mates from outside the established political class, especially to find a woman to join the ticket — and wondered why mayors didn’t get more interest from presidential nominees, emphases mine:

Yet to be shrill is no worse than to be righteous, like the people who insist that the women Vice Presidential candidates so far proposed lack the requisite standing and experience. Why, it is said, none of them is even a senator.

Where is it written that only senators are qualified to become President? Surely Ronald Reagan does not subscribe to that maxim. Or where is it written that mere representatives aren’t qualified, like Geraldine Ferraro of Queens?

It should be noted that Geraldine Ferraro at this time had five years in Congress, and no other experience in political office.  She had spent the previous five years as an assistant DA in Queens County.  She was head of the Special Victims Unit, but otherwise had no executive experience at all.

Representative Morris Udall, who lost New Hampshire to Jimmy Carter by a hair in 1976, must surely disagree. So must a longtime Michigan Congressman named Gerald Ford. Where is it written that governors and mayors, like Dianne Feinstein of San Francisco, are too local, too provincial?

Dianne Feinstein had six years experience as mayor of San Francisco at this writing.  Prior to that, she was on the Board of Supervisors for eight years, serving as its president for a time.  Otherwise, Feinstein also lacked national and foreign-policy experience.

That didn’t stop Richard Nixon from picking Spiro Agnew, a suburban politician who became Governor of Maryland.

And look how well that worked out for Nixon.

Remember the main foreign affairs credential of Georgia’s Governor Carter: He was a member of the Trilateral Commission.

See above.

Presidential candidates have always chosen their running mates for reasons of practical demography, not idealized democracy. One might even say demography is destiny: this candidate was chosen because he could deliver Texas, that one because he personified rectitude, that one because he appealed to the other wing of the party. On occasion, Americans find it necessary to rationalize this rough-and-ready process. What a splendid system, we say to ourselves, that takes little-known men, tests them in high office and permits them to grow into statesmen. This rationale may even be right, but then let it also be fair. Why shouldn’t a little-known woman have the same opportunity to grow? We may even be gradually elevating our standards for choosing Vice Presidential candidates. But that should be done fairly, also. Meanwhile, the indispensable credential for a Woman Who is the same as for a Man Who – one who helps the ticket.

I guess they must have neglected to put the caveat at the bottom in 1984: “This only applies to Democrats.”