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“I deal with trade issues with Mexico and Canada all the time, so you have that,” Napolitano said in an interview. “You’re the commander in chief of your National Guard and, in this context, many of us have been to Iraq and Afghanistan. We’ve been deploying Guard over there. We talk to the families of those who have died over there. So I think the current crop of governors has more relevant foreign policy experience perhaps than our predecessors.”That's Arizona’s Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano, in July, 2007 explaining why a Governor would be a great pick as a Vice Presidential candidate.
An odd argument. Given that George Bush, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, and Jimmy Carter were governors before they were presidents (the two Democrats were unknown on the national stage proir to their campaigns, and Bush only had a familiar name) and no Senator since John Kennedy has moved into the White House, one might perhaps wonder why a governor would be forced to explain their qualifications for higher office at all. But Arizona's was asked, and that's her response. So there you go.
I'm glad to hear of a Democrat proud of her position as commander of her National Guard. I've been a little worried about that lately. Democrats are having a tough time with the National Guard these days, as they have in the recent past, even though many are members and many are commanders. And I am sure there isn't a Democrat anywhere who would insult or denegrate the contribution of the Guard to the total force, or undermine an individual member of the Guard's contribution to the whole. Unless that individual is a Republican. Or unless that contribution to the total force can cost Republicans some "political points".
To seize control of the mission, Mr. Bush would have had to invoke the Insurrection Act, which allows the president in times of unrest to command active-duty forces into the states to perform law enforcement duties. But decision makers in Washington felt certain that Ms. Blanco would have resisted surrendering control, as Bush administration officials believe would have been required to deploy active-duty combat forces before law and order had been re-established.
While combat troops can conduct relief missions without the legal authority of the Insurrection Act, Pentagon and military officials say that no active-duty forces could have been sent into the chaos of New Orleans on Wednesday or Thursday without confronting law-and-order challenges.
But just as important to the administration were worries about the message that would have been sent by a president ousting a Southern governor of another party from command of her National Guard, according to administration, Pentagon and Justice Department officials.
"Can you imagine how it would have been perceived if a president of the United States of one party had pre-emptively taken from the female governor of another party the command and control of her forces, unless the security situation made it completely clear that she was unable to effectively execute her command authority and that lawlessness was the inevitable result?" asked one senior administration official, who spoke anonymously because the talks were confidential.
Officials in Louisiana agree that the governor would not have given up control over National Guard troops in her state as would have been required to send large numbers of active-duty soldiers into the area.
Aides to Ms. Blanco said she was prepared to accept the deployment of active-duty military officials in her state. But she and other state officials balked at giving up control of the Guard as Justice Department officials said would have been required by the Insurrection Act if those combat troops were to be sent in before order was restored.
In a separate discussion last weekend, the governor also rejected a more modest proposal for a hybrid command structure in which both the Guard and active-duty troops would be under the command of an active-duty, three-star general - but only after he had been sworn into the Louisiana National Guard.
Obviously Guard troops can be called up for overseas duty (or "federalized") in time of war, and in such cases they are clearly under federal control. But as evidenced in the aftermath of Katrina, there's a more complex relationship between Guard and Federal forces stateside - where and when they can be used, who commands, etc. etc. Confusion reigned supreme in 2005, and answers were as clear as Mississippi mud.
But few (and certainly none in the Bush administration) would deny that Governor Kathleen Blanco was in command of the Louisiana National Guard. Regardless of your feelings regarding her performance in that role, and no matter how badly (or rightly or wrongly) the national media wanted to "blame Bush" for all things Katrina, Blanco's perceived (by Louisiana voters) failures in that capacity contributed to this:
Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D) announced last night that she will not seek a second term this November, bowing to a political reality created by her handling of Hurricane Katrina in 2005....and led to the election of Bobby Jindal, the man she defeated in the Governor's race four years before.
Such is the importance of the Governor's role as National Guard commander. Hopefully, any other Governors who didn't take that responsibility seriously enough to learn the complexities involved in coordinating with other Governors and Federal Agencies - perhaps in hope that television appearances screaming "HELP" would override the legal/constitutional requirements - learned something valuable from Blanco's experience in 2005. (Or 2007.)
Clearly Bobby Jindal did. Here's a quote from Alaska's Adjutant General, (then-) Major General Craig Campbell, Alaska National Guard:
I have soldiers and airmen deployed right now -- In fact, let me just tell you about this past weekend with the hurricane down southeast. We deployed a C-17 airlifter with the Alaska National Guard. We took two of our Alaska National Guard helicopters and 30 Alaska National Guardsmen, and they went down to respond to that hurricane. and it was by order of Governor Palin because she had had the request from Governor Jindal from Louisiana. That's governor to governor, action of what they need to do for a National Guard. It didn't require presidential approval. It was under the deployment direction of the governor.Seems like a long way to go (although Gustav was expected to be a "big one") but perhaps some day Louisiana can return the favor.
But that brings us to today - and the odd position that Democrats find themselves in regarding the importance of Governors, and their role as commanders of their state's National Guard. This began with the introduction of Governor Palin by John McCain, about which his campaign released a statement containing this line:
As the head of Alaska's National Guard and as the mother of a soldier herself, Governor Palin understands what it takes to lead our nation and she understands the importance of supporting our troops.That launched the New York Times (and others) into rapid response mode:
However, a review of Palin's 20 months in office shows that aside from overseeing the National Guard's state-level emergency missions, as all governors do, the first-term governor played no role in any territorial defense or other national defense operations involving military forces.I'm not exactly sure who was ever arguing otherwise, and unless Russia (or Canada, I suppose) invades Alaska, that fact won't change (and then only briefly, 'til the Feds take control).
For the record, I don't see the "Commander of the National Guard" responsibility as equivalent to Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States, but other than direct military service (or US Secretary of Defense, if one wants to argue purely from the civilian control of military POV), it is the only "stepping stone" job thereto. Likewise, it is Palin's title. John McCain was once a prisoner of war, later a unit commander, then a House member and later a Senator. Barack Obama was once a community organizer, later a Senator from Illinois. Joe Biden was.. well, in the Senate forever. They is what they is, and listing their qualifications isn't the same as claiming that one specific accomplishment makes them Presidential material.
But Sarah Palin is Governor of Alaska, and commander of that state's National Guard. Does that matter? Should that information be withheld from voters? Should any information be withheld from voters?
There are those who would answer that final question "yes". We'll meet them in part two.
It makes my head spin....when it is a Democrat, Governors have plenty of experience to be President. When it is a Republican, they do not have enough experience.
When a Dem candidate has combat military experience (Kerry), it is essential to being President. But when their candidate (Obama) does not have ANY military experience then that is just what the country needs.
These Liberals make me sick with all this spin.
Gov. Palin will do just fine as VP and McCain's military experience will be an important factor as a war time President. Thanks for posting Napolitano's quote. I hadn't read that before.Posted by Artist at September 19, 2008 02:26 AM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(1) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)