Saturday, October 11, 2008

TIME Magazine Questions Need for Experience (For Obama)

From TIME Magazine: Does Experience Matter in a President?
There's something egglike about the concept of experience as a qualification for the highest office. At first blush, the idea appears to be something you can get your hands around. Presidential experience means a familiarity with the levers and dials of government, knowing how to cajole the Congress, understanding when to rely on the Joint Chiefs of Staff and when to call on the National Security Council — that sort of thing. But bear down even slightly, and the notion of experience is liable to crack and run all over. If knowing the system is so useful, then second-term presidencies should be more successful than first-term. Instead, many Presidents lose effectiveness as they go along. Lyndon Johnson, for example: his experience as a master legislator no doubt helped as he steered his historic civil rights and welfare agenda to passage. By the end of two years as President, however, "he was out of gas," recalls Johnson aide Harry McPherson. The longer Johnson was in the Oval Office, the more feckless his presidency became.


An ideal President is both ruthless and compassionate, visionary and pragmatic, cunning and honest, patient and bold, combining the eloquence of a psalmist with the timing of a jungle cat. Not exactly the sort of data you can find on a résumé.

This article, of course, was written in February 2008, before Sarah Palin and her "inexperience" became an issue. It is doubtful that they would take such a favorable view of inexperience now.

It's notable that Governor Palin herself has been forthright about how she's an outsider in politics. She has no experience in DC politics - deficit spending, patronage or raising taxes. Her record in Alaska is quite the opposite.

Lack of experience does not always mean a poor leader, and when we look at past presidents, we find they also had similar 'lack of experience.'

Take Woodrow Wilson for example. He held a governorship for only two years before running for president.

Franklin D. Roosevelt was a state senator for two years, and a governor for four before becoming president.

Teddy Roosevelt, who has already been compared to Gov. Palin, was a state senator for a few years, and governor for two years before entering the presidential arena.

Historically, our better presidents come with executive experience, not senatorial experience anyway.

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