On September 3, 2008, Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens said Palin should be ready to serve as Commander in Chief of U.S. armed forces if McCain dies in office.
I think she can do the job as vice president. And should it fall on her shoulders to become president of the United States, I have no fear.
Really? I wonder if Ted Stevens has any fear about his indictment and trial for corruption. Palin as U.S. Commander in Chief is at the top of my fear factor list.
If elected, Sarah Palin will be one heartbeat away from being president AND Commander in Chief of America’s armed forces, the most powerful military force in the world. Not only would she have the nuclear codes, she would also have the power to tell our 3 million active duty and reserve military members where to point their weapons and when to fire.
That’s a frightening thought that strips my breath away as a military wife.
Republicans will dismiss the idea of Palin as Commander in Chief as premature, even reckless, because it presumes that McCain would die in office. But that’s a real possibility, and a vice president is the second in command, the XO to the CO, if you will. In fact, 3 of our last 11 presidents (Roosevelt, Kennedy, and Nixon) have been unable to finish out their terms. George H. W. Bush acted as president after the assassination attempt of Reagan. Credible intelligence suggests that the White House was at the top of the list in the 9/11 attacks.
All of these examples say that reality is unpredictable. The vice president’s MOST IMPORTANT function is to be able to step in at a moment’s notice, in a heartbeat, to take over the country should the president be unable. We have vice presidents (and XOs, in part) precisely because we are planning for reality, including the reality of death.
The Republicans may have failed to vet Palin properly, but we Democrats and those in the military community cannot be guilty of the very same thing. Sarah Palin is NOT ready to be Commander in Chief.
Palin’s Knowledge of Military Issues and Foreign Policy
Palin has appeared twice on the national stage, once at the RNC for her acceptance speech and once at the vice presidential debate. She was required to showcase her knowledge in these areas and she failed miserably.
DEBATE: Palin said that surge plan in Iraq worked and that troop levels are back to pre-surge levels.
STRIKE ONE. Troop levels in Iraq remain at 152,000 troops versus 137,000 troops there before the surge.
DEBATE: Palin said that Obama had refused to acknowledge that the surge worked.
STRIKE TWO. Obama said in a Fox News interview in September that the “surge has succeeded in ways that nobody anticipated . . . I’ve always said it’s succeeded beyond our wildest dream.”
Even McCain hammered him on this statement in the first presidential debate. Was she even watching?
DEBATE: Palin said to Biden on the Iraq timetable withdrawal plan: “Your plan is a white flag of surrender, and that’s not what our troops need to hear today.” Palin said, “we’re getting closer and closer to victory,” and “victory is within sight.”
FOUL BALL. What our troops need to hear is the truth. The straight talk from their commanders on the ground is not echoing her words. General Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, said that “real restraint” was needed in these types of public pronouncements.
RNC: Palin said that her son was deploying to Iraq on September 11.
FOUL BALL. Totally false! If it were true, she would have been violating Operational Security (OPSEC) – that is, you never tell the enemy when units are going to be landing in Iraq. She was using her son and our troops, along with 9/11, as more political propaganda, which is utterly disgusting and offensive.
DEBATE: Palin referred twice to a “McClellan” as the commander in charge of Afghanistan.
STRIKE THREE! YOU’RE OUT. The top U.S. commander of the war theater in Afghanistan is General McKIERNAN. As OIF and OEF veteran Brandon Friedman said:
It’s remarkably sad, and it’s an insult to the troops serving there. Likewise, it denotes that same aloofness–that all-too-familiar lack of curiosity and concern for what’s actually occurring on the ground in both theaters. And for those of us who’ve served overseas under the leadership of George W. Bush, it’s a feeling we know well.
Some argue that many Americans don’t know who the commander in Afghanistan is. UNACCEPTABLE. Even so, Palin isn’t running to be an American. She is running to be Vice President of the United States of America.
Palin as Commander in Chief of the Alaska National Guard
McCain’s campaign claims that her foreign policy and military experience is bolstered by her status as Commander in Chief of the Alaska National Guard.
The Alaska National Guard has less than 5,000 members. Under state authority, national guards are limited to civic emergencies and assistance in natural disasters. When asked by Campbell Brown about any decisions she has made, McCain campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds could provide no examples:
Bounds tactics sound a lot like most Republicans these days. When you don’t have an answer to a legitimate question, turn that same question around to your opponent and blast him. But the original question remains legitimate and STILL unanswered.
So what has Palin done as Commander in Chief? Absolutely nothing.
Maj. Gen. Craig Campbell, the service commander of the Alaska National Guard, said that the governor has granted him authority to act on his own in most cases, including life-or-death emergencies when a quick response is required and in minor day-to-day operations.
A governor certainly has no ability to wage war with another state, much less a foreign country. Speaking of foreign countries, Palin has ZERO authority over the Alaska National Guard’s overseas service in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was nice that Palin got her passport for the first time to visit 500 members of the Alaska National Guard in Kuwait, but I seriously doubt that she gave any directions on how to fight insurgents, though she sure can handle a heavy gun.
So what major role could Palin have taken with the Alaska National Guard?
She could have used some of that money in the Alaskan budget surplus to provide those troops and their families with health care and support. Approximately 80% of the Alaska National Guard has been deployed overseas since 9/11, and when they go, their families are switched over to a limited form of Tricare, the military health insurance plan, and often, these families lose their health insurance.
In a recent study done by the Veterans for America, they found the following:
Many of the Alaska’s Guard members have been deployed, and redeployed, despite the shortage of care and treatment available upon their return. With more than one-quarter of Alaska’s Guard members living 60 miles or more from a Veterans Affairs facility, many rarely if ever get treatment they need. Travel to Anchorage alone can cost more than $1,500 for each Guard member – an upfront cost too burdensome for many to shoulder, even if they are eventually reimbursed. With the economy worsening, the costs to Guard families for their own healthcare will mount and even fewer will receive treatment.
Such treatment by Governor Palin is simply unconscionable and dishonors our troops and military families’ sacrifices for Alaska and their country.
Palin’s Inaction on Violence Against Women
Alaska had the highest per capita sexual assault ratio of any state while she was mayor, and the state continues to rank among the highest for violence against women. As mayor of Wasilla, victims of rape were charged for sexual assault kits until the Alaskan state legislature outlawed the practice. There are questions about whether she was complicit, but in a town of 6,000 and as mayor, she should have known better and done something about it. Silence can be complicity.
How does this matter to the military?
A 2003 Veterans Administration report on military sexual trauma estimated that 60% of women in the Reserves and National Guard experienced rape, sexual assault or sexual harassment while on active duty. Defense Department figures show that there were nearly 3,000 accusations of sexual assault in the military in 2006, up 24% from 2005. It is estimated that half of all rapes in the military go unreported.
The active duty military’s rape rate is 2 times higher than the civilian population. Alaska’s rape rate is 2.5 times higher than the national average.
Palin’s record as mayor and governor, which she frequently cites to, indicates that she would ignore these problems just as the Bush administration does. UNACCEPTABLE.
Palin as a Blue Star Mother
I am a military wife, and I can assure you that I am not qualified to be vice president of this great country on that fact alone.
As part of a Blue Star and Gold Star family, nothing makes me happier than to have two major presidential tickets with vice presidential candidates who have sons serving in our military in Iraq. About one percent of the elite in Congress have military sons and daughters. Both Palin and Biden know firsthand the sacrifice of our troops because they are part of the military family.
Yet, being part of a military family does not make either one qualified to be vice president, just as being a veteran and POW is not the singular qualification to make someone president.
So What Would Palin Do as Commander In Chief?
Who knows? She hasn’t said much of substance.
Having nothing of substance to say actually says a great deal.
Most importantly, it says that she would NOT be the one making the calls. Her stump speeches and performance at the vice presidential debate all point to a crash (and burn) course in military issues and foreign policy by the Bush/Cheney administration.
Bush is a disaster as a Commander in Chief. He has put our troops in harms’ way based on faulty intelligence, has ignored his commanders on the ground in both theaters, and has hung up on the 911 call from veterans and military families for more support in all ways, including health care (i.e., Walter Reed).
McCain and Palin, like Bush and Cheney, have failed our military and veterans in their political careers and are doing more of it in their campaign. Expect nothing less than continued ignorance on their parts if they should get elected. They would continue to profess their undying “love” for our military on stage while slashing and burning them in the budget.
My husband said to me the other day that a great military officer, one worthy of being Commander in Chief, is not only defined by her leadership abilities but also by her ability to decide, if and when necessary, which troops are going to sacrifice their lives. Can Palin intelligently decide and order which troops are going to die? I certainly don’t trust her to do so.
Biden ended the debate with thoughts of our troops, no doubt thinking of his son who is being deployed to Iraq currently, and I echo his sentiments.
God bless our troops.