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15 December 2010

Palin’s futile foreign policy stunt

A recent poll shows that Sarah Palin is fighting a losing battle to win the presidency in 2012.

By Tony Hudson

More bad news for Sarah Palin: only 23 per cent of the American public think she is qualified to be president of the United States, and 64 per cent say she is not. One possible reason for the results of this poll could be her lack of experience. She did, after all, serve only half of her gubernatorial term in Alaska. Arguably, one of the areas in which she is weakest is in the sphere of foreign policy.

This could explain her recent trip to Haiti. This was an apparent bid to bolster her foreign policy credentials ahead of an expected presidential campaign in 2012. She is also reportedly considering trips to Britain and Israel in 2011 to the same end.

It is very difficult to take news of this trip seriously. While she may be making these appearances to project a more credible stance on foreign policy, it really should not have that effect. Tightly scheduled and regulated media appearances are not enough to claim foreign policy experience. This seems like a repeat of her visit to the UN in the lead-up to the 2008 election.

Nobody outside of her already diehard supporters is going to be convinced that sporadic appearances in other countries are enough to qualify her for America’s highest office. If she does end up running for the presidency in 2012, does she really expect to use these visits to show how serious she is about foreign policy? There is a reason that Tina Fey’s hilarious impression of Palin (“I can see Russia from my house!”) stuck in the public consciousness: it was perilously close to the truth.

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Granted, Candidate Obama had little by way of foreign policy experience. This was compensated for with a huge depth of knowledge regarding US law and the constitution. Does Palin have that? Well, considering that she did not know what the vice-president’s role was while running for that very office, or that she believes the US to be founded on Christianity, the answer appears to be no.

The line of separation between church and state would be severely blurred under Palin, should she get her way. This recent trip to Haiti is another example of her wilful ignorance of that separation. She went at the invitation of Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse organisation, which has been criticised for appearing to put a greater emphasis on proselytising than on helping people during humanitarian missions.

The Haiti trip does not give Palin any real foreign policy gravitas. In fact, it merely highlights the extent to which she is not a serious person. The very idea that such a stunt would make her more electable becomes even more laughable in the face of the latest Politico poll. Does anyone really expect such token appearances will persuade the 64 per cent that she is qualified? The current polling is clear: Sarah Palin will not be elected president in 2012.