A question of judgement?

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By John Barnhart

Some people have questioned John McCain’s judgement for selecting Sarah Palin as his running mate. The same could be said for Barack Obama when one considers some of the stuff that has come out of Joe Biden’s mouth in recent weeks.

Ol’ Joe is the fellow who thinks that Franklin Roosevelt was president in 1929 and that television existed back then. He’s also the guy who claims to hang out with blue collar guys at a diner in Delaware that went out of business years ago.

The best, however, is the most recent. Biden suggested that foreign thugs will challenge Obama within six months of him taking office. The idea is that an Obama presidency will generate a foreign challenge by certain foreign leaders in order to see what he’s made of. This dovetails with what McCain has been saying, that Obama isn’t ready for the job and hostile foreign leaders will exploit that. Good job Joe!

In reality, I have no doubt that our next president will face a number of challenges and these won’t necessarily be predictable. If they were, it would be possible to prepare for them. They may be foreign or they may be domestic. They may come from some established leader, or they could be the work of a lone nut.

The fall of 1963 is a bit hazy for me. In addition to the fact that I was only 11 at the time, there is also the fact that my father had had a major heart attack a few months before and was living on borrowed time. I was more than a bit distracted. One thing that does stand out is the November day, a school day, when the my teacher announced to the class that President Kennedy had been assassinated.

Nobody saw that coming. The Secret Service, of course, would have prevented it if they had. While conspiracy theories abound, none of which I subscribe to, it still boils down to one nut who, for whatever reason, was willing to kill the president.

It should also be remembered that the fellow who fired the starting pistol for World War I was also a lone nut. It’s true that Gavrilo Princeps was part of a Serbian nationalist conspiracy, but it still boiled down to a lone nut who was willing to commit a politically motivated murder.

These unexpected unpleasant events can lead to all sorts of things. The Kennedy assassination made Lyndon Johnson president. Johnson, who won a term as president in his own right, upped the ante in Vietnam, blundering us into a mess. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir of the Austro-Hungarian thronen, led to the deaths of millions.

How would Barack Obama react to a crisis? We really don’t know as he’s never had to handle one. He has no executive experience and a thin and undistinguished legislative resume. All that he has given us is fine rhetoric and lots of contradictory promises that he can't possibly keep.

As Joe Biden pointed out when he was still a candidate for president, the Oval Office is not the place for a man, who isn’t ready, to get on-the-job training. There’s no telling when the next president will face a crisis. It may come as a total surprise and it may not give him a lot of time for consultation before making a decision. Woe to us if that decision turns out to be a major blunder!

Maybe the candidates’ choice of running mates is a reason to call their judgement into question. And, maybe there will be good reason to call our judgement into question if we elect our next president based on his ability to deliver an eloquent stump speech and promise us the moon during a campaign.