This afternoon, Ohio Sen. George Voinovich (R), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, reportedly “scoffed” when a reporter asked if he thought Barack Obama has the foreign policy chops to be the next president.
“He hasn’t any experience in foreign policy,” Voinovich said of Obama, his colleague on the Foreign Relations Committee. “Give me a break.” No word on whether Voinovich was similarly dismissive of Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, and Fred Thompson, all of whom have similar, or less, experience than Obama on matters of foreign policy. (For that matter, it’s also unclear if Voinovich had the same attitude towards George W. Bush and/or Ronald Reagan, neither of whom had any foreign policy experience during their respective campaigns.)
People can certainly come to their own conclusions about Obama’s background and skills. But it’s worth noting that the senator is currently working behind the scenes, reportedly on a daily basis, to help stem the post-election violence in Kenya, where his father was born and where his grandmother still lives.
On January 1, two days before the Iowa caucuses, Obama left a message for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. According to Robert Gibbs, Obama’s Communications Director, Rice called back “as we were driving from Sioux City to Council Bluffs on January 1. They talked about the situation and Rice asked Obama to tape a Voice of America message calling for calm.” Obama taped the message on January 2, after a rally in Davenport, Iowa. […]
On January 3, the day of the caucuses, he had a conversation with Bishop Desmond Tutu, who had flown to Nairobi to see if he could begin negotiations with the factions. In the days since his Iowa victory, Obama has had near-daily conversations with the U.S. Ambassador in Kenya or with opposition leader Raila Odinga. As of late this afternoon, before his rally in Rochester, N.H., Obama was trying to reach Kenyan President Kibaki.
I know this doesn’t fit nicely into the no-experience narrative, but this actually counts as some pretty substantive — and very relevant — foreign policy experience.