Thursday, September 25, 2008

Is it About Experience?


Thinking back, maybe Wesley Clark should have steered clear of even talking about John McCain's military experience back in June—they are, after all, both military men and could have left it at that–but it is interesting to consider what constitutes the proper experience to be president. Barack Obama and John McCain have lived very different lives and though McCain has more years under his belt it's still up for debate which man is more qualified for the job.

Mitt Romney argued that a President ought to be a businessperson with good managerial experience...

Mike Huckabee made the case that a President ought to be a person of faith...

Rudy Giuliani implied that the best President is an "American hero"...what he falsely believes he is...

Senator, Governor, Ambassador, Mayor, CEO, outsider, former Vice-President, war hero, activist, community organizer...the list of potential backgrounds for a President goes on and on. Barack Obama and John McCain can each make their claim that they are the most experienced or the best prepared for the Presidency, but I can't help but think that the candidate with the most experience has not been the winner of a Presidential election in a long time.

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John Kerry, Al Gore, Bob Dole, and George H. W. Bush (though he was elected to one term) all served as either high-ranking political leaders and (with the exception of Gore) decorated soldiers but were ultimately unsuccessful in their bids for the White House. That begs the question of whether John McCain's obvious advantage (in my opinion) in the experience category will necessarily help in his fight against Barack Obama.

I bet it won't, though in an ideal world it should.

When one stands at a disadvantage in a certain area it's common practice to try and go after the person with the advantage. For a good example look no further than George W. Bush's successful belittling of John Kerry's far superior military background in 2004. 

John McCain began his career as a national political figure in 1983, the same year Barack Obama graduated from college, but with the underdog's upper hand and the ability for half-billion dollar campaigns to create and shift campaign narratives, I just don't see experience playing as big a role in this election as it should.

1 comment:

David Lamb said...

"Barack Obama and John McCain have lived very different lives and though McCain has more years under his belt it's still up for debate which man is more qualified for the job."
I strongly disagree with this statement. Though you might argue, as Mr. Clinton all too candidly explained, that "the Constitution sets the qualifications for president, the arguments behind Senator Obama's experience are elusive to non-existant; he has only three full years in the Senate and has yet to author a bill. The argument that Mr. Obama might make a better president than Senator McCain is a valid one, or that the Obama-Biden ticket is more qualified than the McCain-Palin one. However identifying a debate where there isn't one is misleading. Mr. McCain could make a good president. Likewise he could make a bad one. Mr. Obama could make a good one too, but potential success is no qualification.