Thursday, October 23, 2008

Smallish Biden/McCain dust-up in America

There's been a mini dust-up in the US election as the McCain campaign desperately tries to spin an attack out of the following comments from Joe Biden:
"Mark my words, it will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy," Biden said. "The world is looking. We're about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America.

"Watch, we're going to have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy," Biden went on to say.

McCain has portrayed the comment as evidence that electing Obama is dangerous, that electing Obama - Obama specifically, not just a new president generally - will invite threats and attacks from all the evil people living in the big bad world outside America's borders (no idea how he believes the evil people living inside America's borders would react, but after seeing the low-level violence already occurring against Obama's supporters in some parts of the country, I think I can guess).

It took a moment of examining this charge for me to realise that the thrust of it isn't that electing Obama invites attack, but that Obama won't be able to handle the danger he invites because he's too inexperienced. This is not a new meme from the right: we have here the same basic charge, with the "experience" component made explicit, in the writings of a conservative journalist from several months ago:
Experience especially in the area of foreign policy is increasingly important with the instability around the globe. Many rogue nations and world leaders would test the Senator [Obama] early on in his administration making a determination about his leadership, wisdom, and judgment.

I find it interesting that in response to Biden's comments, the Obama campaign is having none of the "experience" charge and focusing entirely on the "Joe didn't really say a specifically Obama presidency would invite attack" part. That's actually pretty clever: Obama's defusing the main thrust of the attack by getting McCain and the press hung up on the part that doesn't matter so much. Nice dodge.

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