Larry Elder

How much of the "Sarah Palin is not ready for prime time" criticism is sincere? When the harping comes from the left, it's difficult to take it seriously. Try to follow the bouncing standards.

Barbara Walters gushed over John F. Kennedy Jr. and foresaw a political future for him. Never mind that the young man had flunked the New York bar exam -- twice.

"Dumb" former President George W. Bush, caricatured as a slacker in an Oliver Stone movie, made better grades in college than did Al Gore, his opponent in 2000. Gore dropped out of divinity school after earning five F's. Then he entered law school and dropped out. He won a Nobel Peace Prize for his anti-global warming crusade, and his documentary won an Academy Award, but Gore got a D in science at Harvard. Bush also scored higher on his verbal SAT than did Rhodes scholar and "brainy" presidential candidate Bill Bradley.

"Dumb" former President Ronald Reagan majored in economics. But the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, who ran for the presidency, got expelled from Harvard for hiring someone to take a Spanish test.

"Dumb" Republican former President Gerald Ford was ridiculed as a bumbling doofus by Chevy Chase on "Saturday Night Live." Democratic former President Lyndon Baines Johnson famously quipped that Ford, who played football for the University of Michigan, "spent too much time playing football without a helmet." But Ford graduated from Yale Law School, the same school that produced Bill and Hillary Clinton.

The worldly and literate Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who ran for president in 2004, didn't exactly kill on his military aptitude test. He got half the questions right and half the questions wrong -- dead average. He explained his poor showing by insisting, "I must have been drinking the night before."

Vice President Joe Biden's 1988 quest for the presidency evaporated when he plagiarized a speech by a British politician. When someone questioned his academic credentials at a campaign stop, the offended Biden claimed that he had a full academic scholarship at law school and graduated in the top half of his class. In fact, he had a need-based half-scholarship and graduated near the bottom -- 76th out of 85.

Biden, in his political career, has stacked up enough gaffes for a dozen politicians. Where to start? How about the time, during a 2008 campaign rally, when Biden stood at the podium and implored a local lawmaker to "stand up." The man in question was in a wheelchair. Or at a campaign rally when he said the opponent's plan would do nothing about "a three-letter word: jobs. J-O-B-S, jobs."

More importantly, what about Biden's judgment? Shortly after he became senator in 1972, he voted to cut off funding the South Vietnamese in their war against the North Vietnamese invaders despite President Richard Nixon's promise to provide financial support and military airstrikes against a North invasion. The country's failure to make good on this promise led to hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese "boat people" and to the murder of an estimated 2 million Cambodians by the Khmer Rouge. Biden opposed the Reagan military buildup and the Strategic Defense Initiative, which even some Reagan-haters grudgingly concede hastened the demise of the Soviet Union. Biden called Reagan's pursuit of SDI "one of the most reckless and irresponsible acts in the history of modern statecraft."

Biden opposed the first Gulf war, the "good" one. He voted for the Iraq War and co-authored a Washington Post op-ed piece in which he warned that our involvement would take a decade and urged the nation to show patience. When the war went south, along with public opinion, Biden suggested breaking Iraq into three parts. Then Biden reversed his support, said he regretted his vote, and opposed Bush's successful "surge."

Former CBS reporter Dan Rather tried to prove -- based on documents that turned out to be fraudulent -- that Bush received preferential treatment in getting into the Texas Air National Guard. Former President Bill Clinton, on the other hand, used familial political and social connections to deliberately delay issuance of his draft notice until after he began his first year at Oxford. Ordered to report for induction the next summer, Clinton again used connections -- including the approval of Arkansas Selective Service director Willard Hawkins -- to join the University of Arkansas ROTC while he attended law school, getting him a reservist deferment and nullifying his draft notice. But Clinton then returned to Oxford, not Arkansas. When the draft lottery placed him at the back of a very long line, Clinton wrote an explanatory letter telling Hawkins that he "loathed" the military. With the Vietnam War winding down and other draft requirement changes making it extremely unlikely that he would be called up, Clinton symbolically asked his draft board to drop his deferment and reclassify him "1-A."

Palin, if she decides to run, faces a grueling series of challenges -- just like the other candidates. Except she'll not benefit from the selective standard that liberals apply when evaluating "their own."


Larry Elder

Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit www.LarryElder.com.