Just like that, Democratic vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden has given voters the single reason why they should not elect Barack Obama president of the United States.
In rambling remarks (does he ever make any other kind?) in Seattle, Biden guaranteed, like Babe Ruth calling his home run shot, that if Obama is elected president there will be an international incident to "test him" less than six months after his inauguration. Biden made no such assertion about a testing of John McCain should he be elected. Perhaps that is because McCain has already been tested ... and he passed.
Behind the public's swoon over Obama is the gnawing doubt that we are about to elect the wrong man, an inexperienced man who is more fluff than substance, more personality than resume, more idealist than realist. Obama, himself, said he lacked experience and was not ready to run on a national ticket shortly after his election to the United States Senate just four years ago.
And from where, exactly, will this test come? Biden mentioned the Middle East and Russia as possible administrators of such a test. Might Iran's Ahmadinejad test Obama by following through on his repeated threat to wipe out Israel? Would terrorists living in this country get a signal to blow up shopping malls and government buildings?
Two historic events offer instruction about what happens when foreign leaders believe an American president might not have the backbone or judgment for the job. Nikita Khrushchev twice tested John F. Kennedy after meeting him in Vienna in 1961. Khrushchev believed Kennedy was out of his league and that his youth and inexperience on the national stage made him and the United States vulnerable. So Khrushchev approved plans proposed by East German leader Walter Ulbricht to build the Berlin Wall and nearly caused a nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Biden referred to Kennedy and Khrushchev in his Seattle remarks.
The other teachable moment came on Jan. 20, 1981, when Ronald Reagan took the oath of office and Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini immediately released 52 American diplomats held hostage for 444 days. Khomeini likely believed some American press accounts that Reagan was a "cowboy" and might bomb Iran back to the Stone Age, if that were possible, since the religious fanatics had already taken the country there.
Why shouldn't a President Obama be tested by the world's tyrants and wouldn't it be better if they feared a President McCain and decided not to put him to the test? Not having a president tested in this way would benefit America, the fragile economy and world order.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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