In 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama was up against a Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain, who was the most experienced nominee in foreign policy since George H.W. Bush defeated Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis 20 years earlier. Obama passed the commander-in-chief test because, first, he argued he had the requisite judgment (having opposed the Iraq War) and, second, he radiated reasonableness, steadiness and quiet confidence. (You will recall during the financial meltdown in the fall of 2008, Obama seemed to be the calmer and more methodical of the two.) In other words, the candidate who generates the most confidence on national security might not necessarily have the most experience, although it is certainly an asset.
In this election cycle, the contrast between a Democratic nominee who is poised, rational, fact-based and candid and President Trump, who is impulsive, corrupt and ignorant, could be quite stunning. And oddly, while not widely covered or debated, foreign policy is where South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, whose cool and deliberate demeanor some compare to Obama, may excel, despite former vice president Joe Biden’s decades of experience. (Biden voted for the Iraq War.)