Home/Daniel Larison/Biden v. Palin (III)

Biden v. Palin (III)

Sarah Palin plans to go on the attack in tonight’s debate, hitting Joe Biden for what she will call his foreign policy blunders [bold mine-DL] and penchant for adopting liberal positions on taxes and other issues, according to campaign officials involved in prepping her for tonight’s showdown.


Highlight past Biden foreign-policy positions as a way to undermine his core strength.

“He’s a celebrated foreign policy expert, but he has been wrong … dating back to the Reagan administration,” the official said. “There are opportunities there for her to jump in.” ~The Politico

I suppose you have to attack your opponent in a debate of this kind, but this seems like awfully treacherous ground for Palin.  The meme that Biden has been wrong on everything for his entire career has the remarkable virtue of being pretty close to the truth give or take a couple things, but what does that mean for McCain/Palin?  Well, let’s review.  Biden supported intervening in Yugoslavia in both Bosnia and Kosovo, and McCain…agreed with Biden.  You can take the view that these were necessary interventions, which is wrong, but you are then compelled to give Biden credit for working alongside your running mate in pursuing these policies. 

McCain supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003, as did Biden.  Biden supports intervening in Darfur–what does McCain think about this?  Oh, right, he supports doing some form of that, too.  Good luck to Palin if the conversation turns to Darfur, since Biden has been an outspoken advocate of armed intervention there and will run rings around her.  On Russia, Georgia and NATO expansion, Biden is essentially in agreement with McCain minus the threats of kicking the Russians out of the G-8.  If the goal is to show Biden’s poor judgement, in almost every instance this will highlight all of the times when Biden and McCain held the same positions in the past, so this criticism bounces back off of Biden and hits McCain. 

That means that the Palin critique of Biden will be reduced to blathering about the “surge,” which has been the standard fare of the McCain campaign for over a year and a half now.  As Biden keeps saying, the “surge” is now over, so now what is the McCain/Palin plan?  She won’t have an answer, because McCain doesn’t have an answer.  Exploiting past disagreements between nominees opens Palin up to some attacks as well.  I’m not sure whether Biden will bring up the report of Palin supporting an exit strategy, but if he does it will be interesting to hear her explain why she wants an exit strategy but thinks Obama is irresponsible for having an exit strategy.  This is not going to go well for her. 

Update: David Noon and Jim Pinkerton discuss the debate at bloggingheads.  Noon, who lives in Juneau, argues that Palin is known to be not very strong on most issues even as governor.  He added that her gubernatorial debate performances were not terribly good, but that her rivals’ performances weren’t very good, either.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

leave a comment

Latest Articles