Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Biden on Obama

First, an anniversary observation unrelated to the rest of the blog.

Seventy-nine yeats ago today, October 29, 1929, the stock market crashed, bringing on the Great Depression.

Democrat vice-presidential candidate Senator Joe Biden is coming in for a great deal of criticism from other Democrats on his “validating inexperience” comments. Indeed, on first hearing what Biden said – or rather on hearing the selection that has become a center piece of a new Republican political ad campaign on radio and television – and who has not heard it repeatedly, the objective observer might agree with Biden’s critics.

What Biden expressed is his belief that sometime in the initial six months of an Obama administration (and of course Biden here assumes the Democrats will win the White House), the new president will be confronted by an artificial crisis created to test to what extent he can handle foreign relations.

Biden pointed to the “test” of the last “young president,” John F. Kennedy, by Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev, which culminated in the Cuban Missile crisis – a distinctly military confrontation that to the very end was played out and remained in the military context as far as the world knew. (Only later did it become public knowledge that Kennedy agreed to remove U.S. intermediate range missiles aimed at the USSR from bases in Turkey.)

Given the context Biden used, little wonder the Republicans jumped on the vice-presidential candidate’s remarks. Their view is that Biden validated the Grand Old Party’s oft-made charge that, in a world so full of dangers, the U.S. does not have time for “on the job training” for an inexperienced commander-in-chief.

Well, I for one don’t want the next president, whoever he is, to see himself first and foremost as commander-in-chief. I want him to see himself as president of the people and to concentrate on that job. He can get military advice when it is needed and then issue orders to the generals.

George Bush made the mistake of responding to 9/11 as commander-in-chief instead of as president. And look at the state of the nation today.


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