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Why Does Campaign Experience Count?

I am still a bit confused about this whole "experience" issue. Among the responses to my last post on whether experience of some sort or another is necessary for a Presidential or Vice Presidential candidate was the argument that the experience of running a Presidential campaign is itself important experience for the job. So, for instance, some argue that Senator Obama's successful oversight of his own campaign has provided him with sufficient executive experience to be President. (Indeed, this is an argument Senator Obama himself has made in comparing his experience to Governor Palin's experience as a suburban mayor.)

This argument seems a bit tautological: A candidate who runs for President has sufficient experience to be President because he ran for President. Any candidate who runs a successful campaign is qualified due to that success, and that a candidate's lack of experience will be cured if only we support him or her so they can campaign long enough to be qualified. It also suggests that any candidate that has not imploded by November is, ipso facto, qualified for the job.

This all makes me think I should run for President. If anyone dares suggest I lack the experience, I'll simply tell them that's why I need their support: So I can have a successful campaign and gain the experience I need to have in order to be a good President. Any takers?

UPDATE: Commenters are correct to note that Senator Obama noted his campaign experience to compare his executive experience with that of Governor Palin, but not claim that this alone was sufficient experience to be President (though he did compare his campaign experience to hers as Mayor, omitting her experience as Governor). Fair enough, he did not make the argument in as strong a form as my caricature. Others have, however, particularly those who do not think a few years in the Senate without significant committee accomplishments is relevant experience for the Presidency. So, for instance, I've heard this argument made with regard to John Edwards, and (several years back, from the other side of the aisle) with regard to Steve Forbes. Insofar as experience, in itself, is valuable (and, as I've noted, I'm skeptical that "experience" is the variable we should focus upon and found the McCain camp's argument against Obama unconvincing), I find the focus on campaign experience a bit odd.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Why Does Campaign Experience Count?
  2. When Does Experience Matter?
AKD:
Just don't forget to vet yourself in a thoroughly documented process beforefand, being sure to leak as much as possible to the press before you make the final decision.
9.3.2008 12:25am
AKD:
eh...beforehand
9.3.2008 12:26am
John (mail):
Some experience is more important than other experience. The president doesn't actually do much except make decisions based on the choices his advisors give him, and the arguments that his advisors advance.

There is some of this in running a campaign, to be sure, but not a lot. There is some of this in running anything, I suppose, including a law review.

But in the end you'd like to see some one who's "been there and done that" quite a bit to make the decisions that the next president is going to have to make. In some ways, that is why Hillary was more "experienced" than Obama.

In the end, though, it is what the candidate will want to bring about that is more important than his experience. Experience, like brainpower, can be bought. But what motivates the candidate won't change. That is what needs to be ascertained.
9.3.2008 12:31am
Jeffery W Wilson (www):

Among the responses to my last post on whether experience of some sort or another is necessary for a Presidential or Vice Presidential candidate was the argument that the experience of running a Presidential campaign is itself important experience for the job.


By that measure, Harold Stassen or Lyndon LaRouche should have been quite experienced. Makes one wonder why they weren't more successful (at something other than running for office).
9.3.2008 12:32am
Suzy (mail):
I could be wrong, but when I saw him make that comment, it was in response to the background suggestion that Palin supposedly has more "executive" experience than he does. If that argument carries water, then she's more experienced than McCain and Biden, too.

I don't think Obama or Palin are or should be running on their experience. Both of them, in different ways, are running primarily on their good judgment, capacity as reformers, and policy ideas. Presumably evidence of relevant expertise can reassure us that they also have the know-how to manage the office. But what counts as relevant expertise? Maybe being a CEO of a large company would be more relevant than being a legislator. Maybe experience in foreign diplomacy would be better than being governor of a small state for a short time. Maybe owning a baseball team first is helpful. How do you judge? It's like asking what piece of knowledge is most important to have first, if you want to be a complete polymath.
9.3.2008 12:33am
Mahan Atma (mail):
"This argument seems a bit tautological: A candidate who runs for President has sufficient experience to be President because he ran for President."



When did Obama - or anyone else - say it was sufficient experience to be President?

The quote you linked to said no such thing.
9.3.2008 12:33am
Mad Jurist (mail):
Isn't the key difference between Obama and Palin not their experience (which people can argue both ways), but that in the first case, the voters decided they wanted Obama to be their candidate, while in the second case, it was an 'elite' who decided that Palin should be the candidate?
9.3.2008 12:35am
SMatthewStolte (mail):
Well, being successful in a national campaign isn't entirely irrelevant. It tells us something about how you respond to stressful situations. Did you lose your cool when things got tough? Did you demonstrate a sense about how people were feeling in a given situation or did you make untimely points and appear indifferent to the contingencies of time?

By these criteria, Ralph Nader has less campaign experience than Barak Obama, not because he has campaigned less but because he has failed so miserably to connect with the country. Thus, Nader scores negative points for having demonstrated his qualities. Obama has scored positive positive points for having demonstrated his, and Sarah Palin is starting from zero.

The point isn't, then, that Palin is in fact less qualified to be President, but that we the people are simply less justified in believing that she is qualified.

And if you take the view that qualifications for the presidency are extraordinary (not suited for just any Tom, Dick, or Harry), then the prima facie assumption ought to be that someone is not qualified.

Of course, I may be missing something. I'm a Palin supporter, at this point, and hope to see her succeed.
9.3.2008 12:37am
Dan M.:
I was highly amused when Obama compared his experience running a campaign to Palin's experience as mayor, totally ignoring her experience as governor.
9.3.2008 12:39am
Jeffery W Wilson (www):
John:


Some experience is more important than other experience. The president doesn't actually do much except make decisions based on the choices his advisors give him, and the arguments that his advisors advance.


That approach is certainly true of some executives. Another popular strategy to decision-making is to follow the advice of the last person to whom you talked. The most successful executives / leaders I've known use a combination of instinct ("b.s. detection"), common sense, and a broad enough sample of alternative courses of action to make an executable (and defendable, against the "armchair quarterbacks" and second-guessers) decision.

Making decisions based *solely* on the advice of staffers (who likely suffer from their own opinions and agendas, which may not align with your own) is not a good strategy.
9.3.2008 12:39am
Jamison (mail):

This argument seems a bit tautological: A candidate who runs for President has sufficient experience to be President because he ran for President


This, of course, is not the argument being advanced. Rather, the argument is that Barack Obama ran his campaign well, demonstrating that he has the executive management and leadership skills required to be successful as President.

After all, experience in and of itself isn't particularly valuable. People can be experienced and yet make terrible decisions (George W. Bush's time as governor in Texas hasn't prevented him from blundering from time to time). Rather, the hope is that experience will provide 1) demonstrations of previous strong judgment, and 2) knowledge that will prove valuable in similar future roles.

You can argue that Obama is or isn't successful, but let's not mischaracterize his basic claim.
9.3.2008 12:40am
loki13 (mail):
This is really the whole problem; other than the age thing, and the natural-born thing, there really aren't many prerequisites for the job.

Therefore, one party takes what their candidate has, says those are the qualifications, and lambastes the other candidate for lacking them.

The other party does the same, in reverse.

Here's an example:
Party A: You have to have experience!
Party B: You can't have stewed as a Washington Insider(tm) too long!

Or . . .
Party A: You have to be able to relate to world leaders and not be so provincial. Foreign relations is a must.
Party B: It's the economy, stupid. Solve America's problems first. You have to have economic/domestic knowledge!

How about . . .
Party A: You need executive experience!
Party B: You need to know how the federal government works.

I think Obama's comments had a text and a subtext. The text went to the executive experience. The subtext went to not just running the campaign, but to the idea that the process of running is a vetting by the press and, most importantly, the American people. That, plus the vote in November, is the last qualification.
9.3.2008 12:41am
2Hard4U2C:
Listen, I am an independent. I just want good things for this country, things that haven't been happening lately. But I find it very interesting that Obama has this hype. Campaign experience? That is an EXERCISE in politics. That is what Washington does NOT need. That is what needs to end. In Obama's time in the Senate, he has done ONE thing: run for President. He is the ultimate insider and the ultimate politician; an academic, not an actor. There is one lesson I've learned in life. When Hollywood and young people like myself throw their support into something as blindly and fearlessly as they have in the past couple of months, you are witnessing a trend - nothing more meaningful than that. Either way, I'll be happy in November and ten times happier in January.
9.3.2008 12:42am
llamasex (mail) (www):
Personally, I don't think experience matters, but forming opinions on the issues and problems a president is likely to face is very important. Obama seems to have done his research thought about those things and has a grasp of the issues. I think alot of people confuse knowledge with experience, because sometimes they do go hand in hand.
9.3.2008 12:42am
krs:

It also suggests that any candidate that has not imploded by November is, ipso facto, qualified for the job.

This all makes me think I should run for President.


Well, the not imploding by November might be a decent filter. If the fifteenth dumb question in a row asking you to defend a Sunday Song Lyric pushes you over the edge a la Howard Dean...
9.3.2008 12:42am
Jeffery W Wilson (www):
Mad Jurist:


Isn't the key difference between Obama and Palin not their experience (which people can argue both ways), but that in the first case, the voters decided they wanted Obama to be their candidate, while in the second case, it was an 'elite' who decided that Palin should be the candidate?


...and the Super Delegates(tm) are ordinary rank-and-file, roll-up-their-shirt-sleeves Americans (as opposed to an 'elite' class)?
9.3.2008 12:42am
AKD:
I'm just wondering if the "Wasilly" bit was intentional. I think it was, but I noticed that CNN helpfully corrected it for Sen. Obama in the print version, so maybe not.
9.3.2008 12:43am
LCDave (mail):
The "key" difference is that Obama is on the top of the ticket and Palin is going for the job that allows one to GAIN experience.
9.3.2008 12:44am
krs:

Rather, the argument is that Barack Obama ran his campaign well, demonstrating that he has the executive management and leadership skills required to be successful as President.

The best evidence of a well-run campaign is a victory in November.
9.3.2008 12:44am
TokyoTom (mail):
Jon, besides mistating Obama's claim, surely you recognize that having run a campaign that successfully defeated the formidable Clinton machine is, indeed, a significant accomplishment and a sign of ability.
9.3.2008 12:48am
MarkField (mail):

This argument seems a bit tautological: A candidate who runs for President has sufficient experience to be President because he ran for President.


You may not think much of the argument (I personally don't find any of the "experience" arguments very persuasive or relevant), but it's not tautological. We can and do say that people acquire experience by doing things. Yes, it's exactly the doing which constitutes the experience. Being President makes one experienced to be President. That's not tautological, it's inherent in the situation.
9.3.2008 12:48am
Simon P:
Agreed. I have no idea why anyone is trying to play up Obama's campaign experience as a qualification for the presidency. It just highlights the lack of any other qualifying "executive" experience.

How do you feel about the McCain campaign citing Palin's experience as governor and McCain's experience (apparently as a member of the military?) as a source of "military command experience?"
9.3.2008 12:52am
SMatthewStolte (mail):
Why don't we just toss the whole experience discourse and focus on accomplishments? Is there any component to experience that is not more adequately expressed in terms of accomplishments?
9.3.2008 12:57am
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
I can see the exec. experience point. A senator (whether McCain or Obama) handles a staff of what, 20 or so people, and makes decisions as one of a hundred. That's radically different than serving as (however nominal) a head of a large organization where, to be blunt, your underlings are often conniving and feuding, and those below them are often out to subvert your decisions or control you by controlling your information.

One more reason I wish Colin Powell would reconsider his decision(s) not to run. He'd REALLY know what was going on.

Running a campaign is, I suppose, better than no experience at all, but not particularly close to being the chief exec.. Your underlings can unite behind you ... until you win, when they all pull the knives out for each other.
9.3.2008 1:08am
metro1 (mail) (www):
Some simple facts:

Sarah Palin has been in public office since 1992.

Barack Obama has been in public office since 1997.

So Sarah Palin has five (5) more years of experience in public office than Barack Obama.

And Sarah Palin has executive experience as a Governor.

Obama has no executive experience.

Most Presidents in our nation's history have been Governors - like, e.g., Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, FDR and Teddy Roosevelt.

I know that many lefty bloggers - and the mainstream media - are quite fond of the talking point that Sarah Palin is inexperienced.

The fact that Gov. Palin is more experienced than the Democratic Presidential candidate - Barack Obama - makes that position frankly indefensible.

To the question: Is Sarah Palin ready to be President? the answer is most assuredly: Yes. If she's not, then neither were any of the other Governors in our nation's history.

All of the facts I've noted above are true and easy to verify.

Based on the above, then, I think - objectively - Sarah Palin is more qualified and experienced to be President than Barack Obama.
9.3.2008 1:09am
SMatthewStolte (mail):
Yes, but was Sarah Palin ever a community organizer? I mean, really!
9.3.2008 1:12am
Cornellian (mail):
If the other party's candidate is a senator, you claim he has no executive experience. If the other party's candidate is a governor, you claim he has no foreign policy experience.

So it seems that, ideally, we all want candidates who have been both a governor (preferably of a reasonably large state) and a senator.
9.3.2008 1:14am
hawkins:

I was highly amused when Obama compared his experience running a campaign to Palin's experience as mayor, totally ignoring her experience as governor.


I assume he believes his experience as a Senator equals her experience as a Governor.
9.3.2008 1:16am
hawkins:

Sarah Palin has been in public office since 1992.

Barack Obama has been in public office since 1997.

So Sarah Palin has five (5) more years of experience in public office than Barack Obama.
....

Based on the above, then, I think - objectively - Sarah Palin is more qualified and experienced to be President than Barack Obama


By this logic, someone please inform Sen. Byrd he was screwed out of the Dem's nomination.
9.3.2008 1:18am
Jason F:
Most Presidents in our nation's history have been Governors - like, e.g., Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, FDR and Teddy Roosevelt.


Actually, fewer than half of our presidents have been governors.
9.3.2008 1:19am
Jason F:
If the other party's candidate is a senator, you claim he has no executive experience. If the other party's candidate is a governor, you claim he has no foreign policy experience.

So it seems that, ideally, we all want candidates who have been both a governor (preferably of a reasonably large state) and a senator.


A career politician!? We need to end politics as usual and bring in an outsider, not someone beholden to the ways of Washington.

The nice thing about politics is that you can always find a reason why the other candidate would be an unmitigated disaster.
9.3.2008 1:21am
SMatthewStolte (mail):
Re: Cornellian's post

I thought traditional attack on Senators was to find something bad they've voted for, like voting no on a bill called, the "save the handicapped children from violent felons," bill or something. "Ask Senator so-and-so why he hates handicapped children."

It just doesn't seem to fit well this time, because McCain has either been right (ie correct, like with the surge) or left (ie not the sort of thing Obama wants to attack him on, like with McCain-Feingold).

And Obama hasn't been in the Senate long enough to have this sort of record (saying he was against the surge will only go so far).
9.3.2008 1:23am
metro1 (mail) (www):
Cornellian:

The "foreign policy experience" is a red herring.

Obama - like other legislators - has sat in a room and listed to speeches about foreign policy. But, than again, so have you and I - does that qualify us to be President?

Any experience, to be relevant to an executive, decision-making office like President has to be executive experience. (Like serving as a Governor).

Many of our greatest world leaders had no "foreign policy experience" in this red herring sense advocated by the Left. Using the Left's current standard for Palin: the following people had no foreign policy experience: Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Tony Blair.

See the problem with this false argument from the Left?

Executive, decision-making experience is what you want if you're electing a chief executive.

Someone who was a legislator - and listened to speeches and took votes as one of 100 Senators - has no more foreign policy experience than any other person who stays informed about foreign affairs.

Don't fall for this "foreign policy experience" trap. Ask anyone who says this to explain, in detail, Obama's "foreign policy experience." You'll get a blank stare.
9.3.2008 1:23am
metro1 (mail) (www):
hawkins:

you missed my point. I was comparing Palin and Obama. in that comparison regarding experience, Palin wins.
9.3.2008 1:25am
Serendipity:
I really thought that this was one of the more intellectually honest blogs out there. I'm not so sure anymore because I am really having a hard time believing people can make these arguments with a straight face. I went to a university that has more people than the municipality run by Governor Palin. Does that give our student body president executive experience necessary to be the vice president? How about our provost, should he be on the ticket? How about the mayors of the dozens of American cities that have populations greater than the entire state of Alaska? Should they all start running for Vice President too?

If people want to actually defend Palin's record and accomplishments, fine. But saying she's experienced because she ran the biggest state, that's also closest to Russia is just silly.
9.3.2008 1:25am
js5 (mail):
people defending Palin's 'experience' by pointing to Obama's is much like the man behind the curtain in The Wizard of Oz. "Don't look over here, pay no attention to that man!"

Her experience is as mayor of a city with a population of about 5,000 and less than 2 years as governor of a state with about 670,000 residents. During her mayoral administration most of the actual work of running this small city was turned over to an administrator. She had been pushed to hire this administrator by party power-brokers after she had gotten herself into some trouble over precipitous firings which had given rise to a recall campaign. Sarah campaigned in Wasilla as a "fiscal conservative". During her 6 years as Mayor, she increased general government expenditures by over 33%. During those same 6 years the amount of taxes collected by the City increased by 38%.

Nicely done sarah. you'll fit right in. here's a blank check, don't go spending it all at once. and if you need more, call china. you know, that country that is situat....nevermind.
9.3.2008 1:27am
metro1 (mail) (www):
Jason F:

But a LOT more of our Presidents have been Governors than Senators (or Congressman). That's the point: the office with the most numbers of candidates winning the Presidency is the office of Governor.

See, e.g., here.
9.3.2008 1:29am
metro1 (mail) (www):
js5:

You belittle Sarah Palin's experience - but it still exceeds Barack Obama's.

You did not address the stubborn facts I listed above.
9.3.2008 1:31am
CB55 (mail):
What GOP pundits will not say is that none of the other senators have been a Governor, and if and only if that is the best argument they can come up with as a rebuttal then shame on their logic. A US senator has far more national and international status than a governor. A senator is exposed to both national and foreign concerns of government. After all their votes impact 50 states and foreign nations, and not just one USA state. Senators confirm federal judges and US department heads.

We do know Bush II did enjoy limited government experience and now face questions of maturity, judgment, and value. As a fellow Texan, it is known that the Texas governor's office is weak when compared to New York state or California. The formerly proud record of achievement is now suspect according to historians. Maybe that is why he locked away many of his records.
9.3.2008 1:36am
Gone Fission':
I really thought that this was one of the more intellectually honest blogs out there. I'm not so sure anymore because I am really having a hard time believing people can make these arguments with a straight face. I went to a university that has more people than the community organized by Senator Obama. Does that give our student body president executive experience necessary to be the vice president? How about our provost, should he be on the ticket? How about the mayors of the American cities that have populations greater than half the state of Illinois? Should they all start running for President too?

If people want to actually defend Obama's record and accomplishments, fine. But saying he's experienced because he was a community organizer, and a first term senator is just silly.
9.3.2008 1:38am
metro1 (mail) (www):
Serendipity:

The problem with your argument is that you focus on only Palin's potential negatives and don't take a moment to consider Obama's.

Palin was the Mayor of a small town at first, yes.

But, as an Illinois State Senator, Barack Obama was the legislator for a relatively small constituency. It was larger than the population of Wasilla, Alaska - yes - but he didn't have to make executive decisions for that constituency. Mayor Palin did.

Then Palin was Chairperson of a statewide natural resources Commission and then Governor.

As a U.S. Senator, again - Obama had a larger constituency - but he didn't have to make executive decisions for that constituency. Governor Palin had to make decisions for the largest state in the nation.

Put it this way: the next President will lead a federal bureaucracy of 1.8 million people - and the world's sole remaining superpower. So doesn't it bother you that Barack Obama has never held an executive position in government in his entire life? Isn't the Presidency an odd place to begin your executive career in government?
9.3.2008 1:40am
CB55 (mail):
When Obama served in the state house he enjoyed more people in his district than the whole of the state of Alaska.

It is said that a good heart surgeon is one that has done thousands of operations and has lost very few to the grim reaper. The best felony trial lawyers are those that have more wins than losses.
9.3.2008 1:42am
js5 (mail):
whether it's better or worse than baracks isn't the problem. The problem is, she's the absolute worst pick for a vice president in DECADES. There are PLENTY more people considerably more qualified than her that McCain could have chosen, but he did not. And now, his trump card of 'experience' is now essentially worthless.

I understand you want this conservative to be deluded into thinking Palin is the next greatest thing since falafel. She isn't. And I think this pick more clearly shows why McCain isn't ready to lead...

While you're still debating whether an amputated arm or leg is worse, you're not clearly seeing that either will never be as good as having a full set of both.
9.3.2008 1:42am
SMatthewStolte (mail):
I really thought that this was one of the more intellectually honest blogs out there.


[irony] Well, we may be intellectually dishonest, but compare us to DailyKos.[/irony]
9.3.2008 1:42am
metro1 (mail) (www):
CB55:

You attack George W. Bush when it's not really relevant to this discussion. Reflexive attacks on George W. Bush may be in vogue in your circle of friends - but that doesn't make them relevant to this discussion.

Again, you've failed to address these simple facts:

Sarah Palin has been in public office since 1992.

Barack Obama has been in public office since 1997.

So Sarah Palin has five (5) more years of experience in public office than Barack Obama.

And Sarah Palin has executive experience as a Governor.

Obama has no executive experience.
9.3.2008 1:43am
Hoosier:
"So it seems that, ideally, we all want candidates who have been both a governor (preferably of a reasonably large state) and a senator."

Evan Bayh, anyone?
9.3.2008 1:43am
metro1 (mail) (www):
js5:

Why is Palin a bad pick? Because she's a conservative?

She's a Governor like Bill Clinton, Reagan, Carter, etc.

I think you need to examine why you don't like Palin. It probably has nothing to do with "experience."
9.3.2008 1:45am
Hoosier:
"you're not clearly seeing that either will never be as good as having a full set of both."

Are you tryng to say that Palin doesn't have a full set?
9.3.2008 1:45am
js5 (mail):
^ah, a fellow hoosier!

To metro: i wish i didn't have to belittle Palin's inexperience, but yet there it is. Point to Obama as much as you want, you don't have to convince me. But there's no way you could seriously believe Palin is 'it'.
9.3.2008 1:48am
Serendipity:
Gone Fission' that's precisely the point though, no one on this blog actually made that argument about Obama. No one. And if they did they were rightly ridiculed.

I mean this logic seems to assume that all executive jobs are equal to each other, but they are greater than all non-executive jobs. I guess Sarah Palin is more qualified than anyone on EITHER ticket. Heck, McCain ought to be HER running mate!

Why can't we just say people bring a variety of experiences and just people figure out which they value most? Some people might value the BA from the University of Idaho over a JD from Harvard. They might value being a sports caster over a community organizer. Perhaps being a mayor of a small city is more relevant than being a state senator in a large state. Maybe governor of Alaska more prepares one than serving on the Foreign Relations Committee in the U.S. Senate. I don't really know, but this whole executive experience trumps all is laughable.
9.3.2008 1:49am
SMatthewStolte (mail):

I understand you want this conservative to be deluded into thinking Palin is the next greatest thing since falafel. She isn't. And I think this pick more clearly shows why McCain isn't ready to lead...

Do you think that what Palin does over the next few months might be able to convince you otherwise. I mean, if she demonstrates a certain strength (or whatever other virtues you like) on the campaign trail, might you be willing to put down the falafel? I'm not challenging you. I'm just curious.
9.3.2008 1:49am
js5 (mail):
Palin isn't a bad pick....after you've glossed over a few dozen other resume's and decided it was more important to win an election than run a federal government, and better, it's more important to get others to forget the total lack of conservative principles you have. Yeah, i guess she'd be a good pick, after Dana Perino.

I'm saying, Hoosier, that Palin has handicapped McCain, not made pulling the lever for him any easier.
9.3.2008 1:51am
SMatthewStolte (mail):

i wish i didn't have to belittle Palin's inexperience, but yet there it is.

Have you tried turning off the computer? Where there's a will, there's a way.
9.3.2008 1:52am
Cornellian (mail):
Hoosier:
"So it seems that, ideally, we all want candidates who have been both a governor (preferably of a reasonably large state) and a senator."

Evan Bayh, anyone?


Your name requires me to discount your suggestion for obvious reasons of self-interest, though I'm not sure whether that's home team loyalty or a desire to get him out of the state.
9.3.2008 1:55am
Careless:

When Obama served in the state house he enjoyed more people in his district than the whole of the state of Alaska.

Illinois has just under 13 million people and 59 senate seats. No, he did not have more people in his district unless something went horribly, horribly wrong.


How about the mayors of the American cities that have populations greater than half the state of Illinois? Should they all start running for President too?

Well, there's only one, and he thought about it.
9.3.2008 2:02am
Melancton Smith:

Why is Palin a bad pick? Because she's a conservative?

She's a Governor like Bill Clinton, Reagan, Carter, etc.

I think you need to examine why you don't like Palin. It probably has nothing to do with "experience."


They are running scared because Palin is everything their candidate pretends to be: An accomplished reformer, an experienced executive. Their candidate is nothing more than a Chicago Machine Democrat, a political insider.

I think the important point of Palin's candidacy is the giant enema she's going to give to Republicans and Democrats alike in Washington.
9.3.2008 2:08am
Sally:
Running a campaign would be great experience if you were interested in being an event planner. Running the government not so much. But what is good about running for some office is that you do get used to being scrutinized so it probably does help your instincts for certain things, like press conferences or how certain news is going to play. Palin is getting a crash course in that. It will be interesting to see how well she does in the next 60 days. Since she's not at the top of the ticket, Obama would do well to keep his focus on McCain. Who by the way has executive experience. He ran a squadron while in the Navy.
9.3.2008 2:09am
astrangerwithcandy (mail):

Palin isn't a bad pick....after you've glossed over a few dozen other resume's and decided it was more important to win an election than run a federal government, and better, it's more important to get others to forget the total lack of conservative principles you have. Yeah, i guess she'd be a good pick, after Dana Perino.




andrew sullivan, is that you!?!?
9.3.2008 2:09am
Randy R. (mail):
Experience counts for something, but only up to a point.

Candidate A: Tons of experience, but policy is completely contrary to mine.
Candidate B: No executive experience, but policy is completely in line with mine.

I think most people will vote Candidate B any day. And this is proven on VC. Almost every person who has defended Obama just happens to like his policies and doesn't much care about his lack of experience (or trumps it up). Almost every person who has defended Palin just happens to like her policies and doesn't much care about her lack of experience (or trumps it up).

Bottomline: Voters don't care much about experience. And if they did, then surely Al Gore would have won the election hands down in 2000.
9.3.2008 2:11am
Guest12345:
If people want to actually defend Palin's record and accomplishments, fine. But saying she's experienced because she ran the biggest state, that's also closest to Russia is just silly.


You want to know why Palin would be a good choice? Because she actually advocates for the people she is representing. As Governor of Alaska, Alaska's interests should be her foremost concern. Take the the Gravina Island Bridge. If the rest of the country wants to give AK several hundred million dollars for two bridges, then she should definitely get her people working on the projects. When the Feds later come along and say "Well, how about we pay less and you pay more on those two projects?" Then it makes sense for her to decline. When circumstances change, one would hope that the decision makers will reevaluate their decisions. (*) The interesting thing that most people don't seem to realize: AK still got the money, it just got directed to different projects. And that's good for AK.

Additionally, I'm betting that being governor of Alaska is a lot more challenging than being governor of Rhode Island. Partly because of it's size, partly climate, partly ethnic issues, partly oil development.

I went to a university that has more people than the municipality run by Governor Palin. Does that give our student body president executive experience necessary to be the vice president? How about our provost, should he be on the ticket? How about the mayors of the dozens of American cities that have populations greater than the entire state of Alaska?


Is size everything? Don't you think that there might be something to be learned from being mayor of a small town? Being governor of a small/large state? Don't you think it would be nice for your executive officers to have a variety of experience in leadership roles?

As far as mayors go. One of them did run for president this election and America wasn't interested.

But saying she's experienced because she ran the biggest state, that's also closest to Russia is just silly.


I think people are saying she's experience because she ran a state. Which happens to be the largest state in the union. Running a small town isn't trivial either. I don't understand why you insist on downplaying it. Mayor of a small town or governor of a "small" state, both are more direct representation of your constituents than any job Joe Biden has ever held. Add in that she's running 80% approval from her electorate, that's pretty damned impressive.

I'm not going to tell you how you should vote. But if you want to question intellectual honesty, then at least be so yourself.

* - Imagine a President who tells Cuba that "Hey, we're not going to go to war with you." Cuba then invades Miami. Do you want your President to stick to their original position?
9.3.2008 2:16am
TruthInAdvertising:
"Some simple facts:

Sarah Palin has been in public office since 1992.

Barack Obama has been in public office since 1997.

So Sarah Palin has five (5) more years of experience in public office than Barack Obama."

Are we supposed to believe that 5 years as a Mayor of a town of around 6,000 people (when Palin was Mayor) in Alaska is more valuable experience than being a State Senator representing over 30 times as many people? This seems to be an attempt to elevate her experience in a way that's a bit over the top. I'll give Palin her due for her service as Mayor. But let's put in in perspective. Palin was a Mayor of a town of less than 10,000 people. While Mayor, the town had less than 100 employees. In Alaska, where the state's total population is smaller than the 17 largest US cities, this may look impressive. Outside of Alaska and a few rural states, there's hundreds of Sarah Palin's serving in similar positions who wouldn't be given the keys to the statehouse, much less the Vice-Presidency.

=These efforts to spin the work of a Mayor of a small town into something more than it is is like trying to claim that the experience of running a small computer store makes one qualified to run Microsoft. In theory, it's possible. Realistically, such claims just look foolish.
9.3.2008 2:17am
js5 (mail):
Matt,

I suppose Palin could do a few things that would make it easier for me to re-consider voting. One, she most certainly needs to start articulating her approach to foreign policy. If she takes up a more diplomatic approach to foreign relations like Reagan did, and very unlike Bush or McCain, I would start reassessing things. But, this is unlikely because, given her paper-thin engagement with this topic, it is more likely than not that she will simply tow whatever line McCain tosses her. Of course, when she said the other day that "she hadn't thought about it" with regards to the war in Iraq subsequent to a question about her son leaving to that theater of war, I thought she was either the most thoughtless mother alive, or the most disintrested in that type of study. If she takes a reasonable approach to seeking out answers rather than asserting a conclusion and filling in the gaps later, then this is a huge bonus. She also needs to shut up about the Iraq war being "God's Plan".

She hasn't said a thing about immigration policy, but I would also give her an ear if she, in contrast to McCain, said the borders need to be sewn up. And pledged as god as her witness that she would do so. This is McCain's second biggest problem with the conservative base. Talking about "national security" while doing jack about the borders is about as asinine as things can get.

Third, she needs to articulate the importance of a limited government and assert that free markets without government intervention is the best way for the United States to prosper. And I'm not talking Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity talking points that McCain has resorted to. "We need to help businessmen" doesn't cut it anymore. It is also not good enough to say one will resort to economic advisors. It is imperative that persons at this level of governing understand the fundamentals of economics, the principles behind government-free markets, and the theory of property rights.

Fourth, she needs to decide if she's going to be a steward for Jesus or a steward for freedom. Secularism is McCain's strong point, one of very few, and it seems up in the air how far she's going to push for her religious beliefs to be forced against others. She's already shown us her willingness to cut funding to unwed pregnant teenager groups (the detestable irony that it is). She's talking about overturning Roe V. Wade, as if, freedom itself is a flickering light, moments from burning out. McCain has himself said the same, but the sum of the evidence suggests he's simply pandering to gain votes.

Quick final comment, my father was telling me how Fred Smith's name came up in the discussion for vp choices. I'm curious if some of the y'all think he would have been a viable choice despite his lack of 'executive'-branch experience.
9.3.2008 2:22am
Mac (mail):
TruthInAdvertising,

She is Govenor of the State of Alaska, as well. Actually, most people can't even name their state legislator and probably wouldn't even know if he/she never showed up. It strikes me as a rather cushy job. Did he introduce any legislation in his 4 years in the Illinois Legislature?
9.3.2008 2:23am
TruthInAdvertising:
"I think the important point of Palin's candidacy is the giant enema she's going to give to Republicans and Democrats alike in Washington."

Really? Have you given any thought to how Palin would accomplish that? If she's elected, she'll be the Vice-President with almost no political power of her own. She'll have to work with a House and Senate that will be controlled by Democrats and depending on how badly things go for Republicans this November, veto-proof majorities or close to it. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid will have little desire to help McCain or Palin succeed.

Palin's "outsider" perspective will be a serious handicap once she's inside the Beltway. She has zero experience working in Washington DC and little connections with the people in the House and Senate. Those of us outside DC like to bash these insider connections but the reality of politics is that unless your title is dictator, you have to work with the other people in the political process. Let's also not forget that once you peel away the political sheen, Sarah Palin is your cookie-cutter cultural conservative. There's plenty of people on the Democratic side of the aisle and a few Republicans too who have no interest in carrying water for that agenda.
9.3.2008 2:29am
js5 (mail):
Astrangerwith candy- Nah, but also consider he's not the only conservative on the attack against Palin...so it's not too far-fetched that we would mostly agre that her pick was certainly not a good one.
9.3.2008 2:31am
astrangerwithcandy (mail):
truth in advertising -

you are an obama partisan. please don't pretend your support and opposition of palin is anything but an alignment of policy. after your harangue regarding experience, it would be ridiculous for you to suggest otherwise. that is obviously not a bad reason to support a candidate, lets just be honest.
9.3.2008 2:33am
davod (mail):
Forget about Palin's efforts to rein in corruption. Palin, as governor, renegotiated the oil royalty contract to the benefit of Alaska. She negotiated to build a $40 billion gas pipeline into Canada to connect to the US grid.*

How does this practical work compare to Biden or Obama.

* A Negotiator Without Preconditions
By James P. Lucier,Published 9/3/2008 12:08:20 AM
9.3.2008 2:36am
astrangerwithcandy (mail):
as many a wise man has said before: preview, preview, preview

"your support of obama and opposition of palin"

js5-

you actually have me convinced that you are truly a conservative. my apologies...that, or you are the best seminar caller i've seen. i wouldn't have picked her either, but the sexism i've seen from the nytimes and washington post since her selection has disturbed me and made me more likely to defend her.
9.3.2008 2:38am
TruthInAdvertising:
"She is Govenor of the State of Alaska, as well."

But that's not the point that metro1 was making. He/She was claiming that simply by holding a small-town political office longer than Obama, it made her more qualified. I disagree.

"Actually, most people can't even name their state legislator and probably wouldn't even know if he/she never showed up."

I do and I would but so what? There's a big difference representing 6,000 people and 200,000 people.

As for his state level experience, it's addressed here including a number of legislative accomplishments.
9.3.2008 2:39am
TruthInAdvertising:
"Palin, as governor, renegotiated the oil royalty contract to the benefit of Alaska."

This is an interesting talking point for Republicans. Here's an alternative view that doesn't sound like it matches the Republican worldview:

"Last year, Palin backed a massive tax increase on oil firms — a step that has produced $6 billion for the state treasury this year.

The tax escalates as oil rises above $52 per barrel; at current prices, the state collects about 75 percent of a barrel's worth including the new tax and other royalties, ConocoPhillips says.

A spokeswoman for Palin told The Seattle Times this summer that the new tax also includes incentives for oil companies to keep investing in new production. But oil companies argue that the tax increase discourages investment there.

Houston-based Conoco said it had scrapped a $300 million refinery project because of the tax. Fellow oil giant BP said it had delayed the development of the western part of the North Slope, where North America's most productive oil field lies, for the same reason."
9.3.2008 2:51am
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
I'd like to know why Senator Obama is trying to convince us that he's the best candidate for President by comparing himself to someone who isn't running for President.
9.3.2008 2:52am
astrangerwithcandy (mail):
come on, at this point i am willing to say that truthinadvertising is a member of the obama campaign. boo, troll, boo.
9.3.2008 2:55am
js5 (mail):
Astrangerwithcandy: thanks, that means a lot. I have to fight it tooth and nail on other boards.


btw, what IS a seminar caller? I've seen that directed at me a few times this week.
9.3.2008 3:02am
astrangerwithcandy (mail):
bc i am bored today and posting on this blog WAY too much as i watch replays of the RNC convention...

a seminar caller is a fake. for instance, someone who calls into a radio show pretending to be a liberal or conservative and then goes on a harangue on the oppositions talking points.
9.3.2008 3:06am
DCP:

the "experience" attack is getting out of hand.

It's a no-win situation for candidates. If you run a business for 25 years, you lack political experience. If you are a career politician, you lack real world experience. If you go to law school instead of joining the armed forces, you lack military experience. If you don't go to law school, you lack legal experience. If you spent your career at the state level, you lack federal experience. If you were a legislator, you lack executive experience. I could go on and on...

Show me a candidate and I will show you a lack of experience in something relevant to the office.

It's absurd. I've been watching the pundits debate the military experience of a woman with five children! Are you kidding me? And, in the interest of sexism, I don't recall any uproar over this issue with Hillary Clinton, who, if I remember correctly was somehow in the news over the past year.
9.3.2008 3:07am
TruthInAdvertising:
"come on, at this point i am willing to say that truthinadvertising is a member of the obama campaign. boo, troll, boo."

I know it shocks you that there are people in the world who can do their own research and present counterpoints to the pap handed out by the Republican apparatchiks without being on the payroll of anyone. Your inability to respond to the specific criticisms reflects poorly on you, not on me.
9.3.2008 3:08am
davod (mail):
"It's absurd. I've been watching the pundits debate the military experience of a woman with five children! Are you kidding me?"

I know this does not reflect on Palin's military experience but she is the head of the Alaska National Guard.

She did visit Alaskan troops in Kuwait and in Germany in 2007.
9.3.2008 3:18am
Jason F:
But a LOT more of our Presidents have been Governors than Senators (or Congressman). That's the point: the office with the most numbers of candidates winning the Presidency is the office of Governor.


In the first place, that's not what you initially said -- you said most of our Presidents have been former governors. That's not true.

In the second place, we've had 20 former governors go on to the presidency (including territorial governors) and 24 former congressmen, so your revised statement is wrong as well.

Former governors:

1. Jefferson(VA), 2. Monroe (VA), 3. Jackson (FL), 4. Van Buren (NY), 5. W. Harrison (NW Terr., Indiana, and Louisiana Terr.), 6. Tyler (VA), 7. Polk (TN), 8. A. Johnson (TN), 9. Hayes (OH), 10. Cleveland (NY), 11. McKinley (OH), 12. T. Roosevelt (NY), 13. Taft (Philippines), 14. Wilson (NJ), 15. Coolidge (MA), 16. F. Roosevelt (NY), 17. Carter (GA), 18. Reagan (CA), 19. Clinton (AR), 20. G. W. Bush (TX)

Former congressmen:

1. Madison (VA), 2. Monroe (VA), 3. J. Q. Adams (MA), 4. Jackson (TN), 5. Van Buren (NY), 6. W. Harrison (NW Terr., OH), 7. Tyler (VA), 8. Polk (TN), 9. Filmore (NY), 10. Pierce (NH), 11. Buchanan (PA), 12. Licnoln (IL), 13. A. Johnson (TN), 14. Hayes (OH), 15. Garfield (OH), 16. B. Harrison (IN), 17. McKinley (OH), 18. Harding (OH), 19. Truman (MO), 20. Kennedy (MA), 21. L. Johnson (TX), 22. Nixon (CA), 23. Ford (MI), 24. G. H. W. Bush (TX)
9.3.2008 3:21am
astrangerwithcandy (mail):

I know it shocks you that there are people in the world who can do their own research and present counterpoints to the pap handed out by the Republican apparatchiks without being on the payroll of anyone. Your inability to respond to the specific criticisms reflects poorly on you, not on me.


you will forgive for thinking all politicians are liars and not going out of my way to proving one less of a liar than another. you will also notice with the exception of taking exception to the sexism/hypocrisy of the palin coverage and the delusions i have seen offered regarding iraq by liberal commenters in this post, i have never defended either palin or the bush administration. i find both lacking. you, however, parrot obama talking points. (of course, there is really no evidence of my not defending bush or palin, bc of other point - i rarely offer anything other than a quick snarky opinion which i never defend)
9.3.2008 3:25am
davod (mail):
"Houston-based Conoco said it had scrapped a $300 million refinery project because of the tax. Fellow oil giant BP said it had delayed the development of the western part of the North Slope, where North America's most productive oil field lies, for the same reason."

I call bullshit on this. There was no development up there before. So now they decide not to develop. These pricks will do anything to get back to working their shady backdoor deals.
9.3.2008 3:26am
LM (mail):
It's never gonna happen.

For one thing, "Adler Girl?"

I don't think so.
9.3.2008 3:27am
GaryC (mail):

Jeffrey W Wilson:
That approach is certainly true of some executives. Another popular strategy to decision-making is to follow the advice of the last person to whom you talked. The most successful executives / leaders I've known use a combination of instinct ("b.s. detection"), common sense, and a broad enough sample of alternative courses of action to make an executable (and defendable, against the "armchair quarterbacks" and second-guessers) decision.

When Bill Clinton was Governor of Arkansas, he apparently vetoed an education bill, and had a staffer slide the paperwork under the door of the Secretary of State's office. Bill then went off to a Friday night cocktail party, where he discussed the bill with an teachers' union lobbyist. After the discussion, Clinton had another staffer retrieve the bill - I can't recall whether he actually had to climb through the transom to do so - so that Clinton could cross out his veto and sign it.

It was apparently really important to make sure that nobody else talked to him after you got him to agree with you.

Of course, most politicians appear to agree with you, without actually committing to do what you want them to.
9.3.2008 3:58am
GaryC (mail):

hawkins:
Sarah Palin has been in public office since 1992.

Barack Obama has been in public office since 1997.

So Sarah Palin has five (5) more years of experience in public office than Barack Obama.
....

Based on the above, then, I think - objectively - Sarah Palin is more qualified and experienced to be President than Barack Obama

By this logic, someone please inform Sen. Byrd he was screwed out of the Dem's nomination.

But for God's sake, don't bring up Strom!
9.3.2008 4:01am
GaryC (mail):

TokyoTom:
Jon, besides mistating Obama's claim, surely you recognize that having run a campaign that successfully defeated the formidable Clinton machine is, indeed, a significant accomplishment and a sign of ability.

David Axelrod is indeed a formidable campaign manager. His franchise business is doing quite well, possibly because he is so environmentally conscious. Nobody recycles speeches that well!
9.3.2008 4:03am
GaryC (mail):

MarkField:
You may not think much of the argument (I personally don't find any of the "experience" arguments very persuasive or relevant), but it's not tautological. We can and do say that people acquire experience by doing things. Yes, it's exactly the doing which constitutes the experience. Being President makes one experienced to be President. That's not tautological, it's inherent in the situation.

But running to become President is not the same thing as being President, so experience at one doesn't necessarily make you qualified to be successful at the other.
9.3.2008 4:07am
GaryC (mail):

CB55:
When Obama served in the state house he enjoyed more people in his district than the whole of the state of Alaska.

That would be relevant, if it were true.

He was one of 59 state senators in a state with just under 13 million people. Assuming equal population for the districts, which is almost impossible to avoid, then there were under 218,000 people in his district, about 1/3 the population of Alaska.

Furthermore, in the 8 years that he was in the state senate, it was in session for only 509 days total, or just over 63 days per year. If he was present for every session, that would be a quarter-time job.
9.3.2008 4:16am
Cornellian (mail):
When Obama served in the state house he enjoyed more people in his district than the whole of the state of Alaska.

That would be relevant, if it were true.

He was one of 59 state senators in a state with just under 13 million people. Assuming equal population for the districts, which is almost impossible to avoid, then there were under 218,000 people in his district, about 1/3 the population of Alaska.


So it's also relevant that he's now a senator from a state with about 20 times the population of Alaska?
9.3.2008 4:26am
Cornellian (mail):
It's a no-win situation for candidates. If you run a business for 25 years, you lack political experience. If you are a career politician, you lack real world experience. If you go to law school instead of joining the armed forces, you lack military experience. If you don't go to law school, you lack legal experience. If you spent your career at the state level, you lack federal experience. If you were a legislator, you lack executive experience. I could go on and on...

You forgot the part where the candidate who has done all of those things is accused of being an unreliable person who can't hold down a job.
9.3.2008 4:28am
Cornellian (mail):

Quick final comment, my father was telling me how Fred Smith's name came up in the discussion for vp choices. I'm curious if some of the y'all think he would have been a viable choice despite his lack of 'executive'-branch experience.


Who is Fred Smith? Do you mean Fred Thompson?
9.3.2008 4:31am
Ursus Maritimus:
Promise to appoint Eugene to the USSC and you got my vote.
9.3.2008 6:11am
DeezRightWingNutz:
I think I've heard this one before. I demand a attribution, 13% of the gross, a producer's credit, a bowl of green M&Ms in my dressing room, and uh, uh... a Volokh Conspiracy t-shirt.
9.3.2008 7:08am
Mercutio (mail):
I find it interesting that Obama and Palin mirror each other in so many ways, and yet one is generally treated positively by the media and the other attack mercilessly. Why do the fine combs come out to squint over Palin's record for every tiny and debatable slip over her entire career? Has Obama been treated with such careful negative attention? How much of his record as community organizer been examined in the press, even when there's possible failures like that housing projects? How loudly has every reversal he's ever made been been touted, on things like FISA?

What could possibly explain this vast discrepancy? Oh wait, I know.
9.3.2008 8:08am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Skipping over the 90+ comments above that have strayed...

The Obama camp is claiming that campaign experience is important experience because that is all they have, and in particular in comparison with Gov. Palin. They can't compare him to McCain, since McCain not only shows up to work and at committee hearings, he actually has major legislation named after himself and has chaired major committees that have actually met and done real work, instead of a subcommittee that hasn't.

This is apparently the official talking point, and yesterday I heard Obama on message here, that he has more experience than a small town mayor (ignoring that she is now the governor of her state) because he has run this great campaign.

In the end though, I think that this approach will be counter-productive for him, since he is not running against Palin, but rather the much more experienced McCain.
9.3.2008 8:25am
DSH (mail):
If campaigning itself is a qualification for president, I guess that means that Lyndon Larouche is the most qualified person in the world, but only because Pat Paulsen is dead.
9.3.2008 8:49am
SeaDrive:
The point of the campaign is for the voters to take the measure of the man. Experience is a measure, but not the only one. History has plenty of examples of leaders appearing out of nowhere, or so it seems, who know what to do, and how to do it.
9.3.2008 10:09am
rarango (mail):
Experience is overrated--GHW Bush had perhaps the strongest resume of any recent president in terms of all forms of political experience. Ability to communicate effectively ( think Clinton and Reagan), and the ability to understand issues that bother the citizenry and respond to them in some form. Those seem to me to be the most important requirements. YMMV
9.3.2008 10:41am
Sarcastro (www):
Get with the program people! It's not that experience is a neccessary condition to be a good President, it's a residuum of Executive Experience that all Presidents need to be any good.

I can't wait for when Sarah Palin gets to be President! She's like a level 5 leader!
9.3.2008 10:50am
Melancton Smith:
Is it too late to change the nomination to:

Ron Paul/Sara Palin?
9.3.2008 11:12am
js5 (mail):
quote: Quick final comment, my father was telling me how Fred Smith's name came up in the discussion for vp choices. I'm curious if some of the y'all think he would have been a viable choice despite his lack of 'executive'-branch experience.

Who is Fred Smith? Do you mean Fred Thompson? /quote


no, fred smith, as in Fedex Fred. The guy who created Federal Express.
9.3.2008 11:13am
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):
Why is it that a half a term as a Governor doesn't qualify Palin to be Vice President, but a half term as a Senator qualifies Obama to be President?
9.3.2008 11:26am
Suzy (mail):
Could anyone manage to articulate how her experience translates into positive evidence that she is qualified for the highest offices? Honestly, if she brought something to the table other than a love of guns, I wouldn't care as much how many years she had as Gov. I'm looking for any evidence of sound policy decisions, fresh ideas that could help improve govt., or even personal character and judgment that makes me trust her command. I'm just not seeing any of that. I will watch her speech tonight, and I am open to being impressed. But I would need to hear good ideas and so far she seems like any other ultra-right extremist.

Basically, is there any evidence she wasn't simply the affirmative action pick, designed to grab female votes? That insults my intelligence.
9.3.2008 11:35am
just arrived:
Obama and his supporters don't tout his campaign experience as reasons to vote for him. But when he is attacked with --he doesn't have experience running something (and I saw this before Sarah Palin was named as McCain's VP) -- then the response is to point out his (suprise) campaign success story.
9.3.2008 11:53am
David Warner:
"Basically, is there any evidence she wasn't simply the affirmative action pick, designed to grab female votes? That insults my intelligence."

Perhaps you've been looking in the wrong places. I believe several pieces have been posted on this very blog. I could do the google for you, but you seem intelligent enough to handle it for yourself.

There's actually a decent article in Newsweek, of all places, this week, that covers most of the bases, although it does take her creationism position out of context.

"But I would need to hear good ideas and so far she seems like any other ultra-right extremist."

What do you mean by ultra-right?

She appeals to a lot of us who were raised feminists but aren't real excited about what that movement has become. I, for one, look at the few women in history who were actually allowed to lead (off the top of my head, Catherine the Great, Elizabeth I, Isabella, Victoria, Thatcher) and recognize how high a proportion met with great success. Perhaps we should give it a go.
9.3.2008 12:00pm
NowMDJD (mail):
There is at least one significant difference between campaign experience and experience in administerning a government apparatus of the same size. Members of one's campaign want to work for the candidate and bring him into office. Elective officeholders, on the other hand, must persuade, compromise with, or coerce people with diverse views to effectively pursue his policies. This requires a different skills set.
9.3.2008 12:00pm
MarkField (mail):

But running to become President is not the same thing as being President, so experience at one doesn't necessarily make you qualified to be successful at the other.


Agreed. I was only pointing out that there's no tautology involved. It's a matter of what you want to define as "experience".

I think the whole debate on "qualifications" is misguided. That applies to both sides.

The reason I say that is that everyone is too narrowly focused on the sort of formal qualifications that might constitute line items on a resume: went to X university; held such and such an office for Y many years; etc.

These, I suggest, are not the only "qualifications" for President, and they certainly are not the only ones the American people look at. Let's break this down.

Right now, today, the 6 most formally qualified people for the office of President are Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, George H. W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Dick Cheney, and Al Gore. Now maybe Clinton or Gore could get a majority vote from Americans today (though if they were running, I guarantee you'd never hear a word from Republicans about "qualifications"). But not one of these men is really what the electorate is looking for today, their "qualifications" notwithstanding.

Now consider what the American people actually do when faced with the choice. If formal qualifications were the most important consideration -- and actually being President is obviously the best such qualification -- Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, FDR, and Woodrow Wilson would not have been elected President.

The reason for this is simple: the American people are not such fools as to limit their decision to the candidates' formal qualifications. Yes, they want the candidates to meet some reasonable minimum. But what they really want is the opportunity to "interview" the candidate -- to see him (so far) perform in public so they can watch and gain confidence in his (so far) ability to handle the office. Similarly, few employers hire anyone based on a resume; they want an interview, and the higher the position, the more extensive the interview process. That's the only way they can judge things like policy proposals, temperment, judgment, and the myriad informal but far more important qualifications.

I'd suggest, in fact, that Lincoln -- the least formally qualified President we've ever had, and yet the greatest -- won election for exactly this reason. His extensive public appearances in the L-D debates, his speech at Cooper Union, and a great many other appearances allowed the people of that time the assurance that they could trust him.

Now, let's think about how this affects the candidates today. The presidential candidates go through a lenthy "interview" process because the long primary season demands that. By now, we've gotten a good handle on them, even Obama whom we've "known" for a much shorter period of time than McCain.

Vice-presidential candidates are a different matter. Their campaign time is limited to the period between the convention and the election. Most presidents therefore choose someone already well-known for VP; it provides a comfort level for the electorate. There doesn't need to be much, since the VP slot isn't all that important in making decisions, but it's something.

The choice of Biden falls into this category. The choice of Palin does not. She's unknown outside the state of Alaska except to a relatively small number of political junkies. That means she has a very short period of time to make an impression. Since it's the VP slot, this is of minor importance (see Dan Quayle), but perhaps more important because of McCain's age and health issues.

Does Palin meet the minimum for formal qualifications? I don't know, because there's no pre-existing list. I personally think it's borderline, but it's only one consideration among many, with the informal qualifications being far more important.
9.3.2008 12:14pm
SMatthewStolte (mail):
Js5, thanks for responding to my question. It helps a little in understanding your perspective.

I will only note (since I'm something of an amateur theologian) that I take issue with the dichotomy between a "steward for Christ" and a "steward for freedom." From my point of view (which is not, of course, yours) nothing could make less sense than saying these are at odds with each other.
9.3.2008 12:15pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
The success of the Obama campaign doesn't mean he'll be a good president, but it certainly shows executive ability. Why does the inability to concede this remind me of Creationist arguments against Darwinism? Maybe because Palin is a Creationist!

Dale Carpenter had a VC post yesterday pointing out that Obama, and not Palin, has had to present his beliefs and had them challenged over the last year. Let's say, intellectual experience. Palin? No. So instead her partisans babble about Alaska's border with Russia and learning defense "by osmosis" because her state is under the hypothetical North Korean missile flight path.
9.3.2008 12:57pm
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):

I'm looking for any evidence of sound policy decisions, fresh ideas that could help improve govt., or even personal character and judgment that makes me trust her command.


Well, she cut taxes, got a natural gas pipelines through that had been languishing for 30 years, increased the state's oil&gas revenue, increased the oil trust payments to citizens, pursued a state actuarial consulting firm that was either incompetent or corrupt in the face of a legislature that wasn't interested, threw Frank Murkowski out of the statehouse, pressed for and obtained convictions on corrupt members of her own party, working "across the aisle" with Democrats to do it, and has gotten an approval rating as high as 90 percent while doing it.

Other than that, not much.
9.3.2008 1:40pm
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):

I went to a university that has more people than the municipality run by Governor Palin.



Since you just made a fool of yourself in the span of one sentence, you might like to revise &extend.

Or just change your screen name and hope to live it down.
9.3.2008 1:43pm
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):

Are we supposed to believe that 5 years as a Mayor of a town of around 6,000 people (when Palin was Mayor) in Alaska is more valuable experience than being a State Senator representing over 30 times as many people?


Uh, you're missing the point: that was 5 years before Obama has any experience as a state senator. By the time he was a state senator, Palin moved on to Alaska's Ethics Commission.
9.3.2008 1:47pm
Mad Max:
Experience is overrated--GHW Bush had perhaps the strongest resume of any recent president in terms of all forms of political experience.

Yeah, and he was a better President than his successor.

We chose poorly.
9.3.2008 3:00pm
No irony here:
I disagree with this comment:


She's already shown us her willingness to cut funding to unwed pregnant teenager groups (the detestable irony that it is).


That does not qualify for irony, let alone detestable irony. It is libertarian principle in action. Many of us believe that government should do very few things, and we are principled enough about it that we oppose government funding even for things that seem to "benefit" us. Some us oppose government-subsidized stadiums even if we are season ticket holders.

Calling it detestable irony assumes the opposite, so that it would be detestable for farmers to oppose farm subsidies, etc.

Some of us like our freedom to much to sell it so cheaply.
9.3.2008 3:26pm
matts117:
Experience ("the fact or state of having been affected by or gained knowledge through direct observation or participation") is relevant to being president because we conclude that the experienced person will know how to react to circumstances in a way that leads to good outcomes.

The Washington experience of John McCain, Joe Biden and Barack Obama suggests that they will know how to make legislative decisions and will know how the levers of government work in Washington. Executive experience (being a governor) suggests that a person will know how to wield executive power, including hiring, firing and managing bureaucrats. To a very limited extent, Obama's management of his campaign (particularly in light of Clinton's opposition) also demonstrates these skills.

The deficits of Obama and Palin are difficult to compare for these reasons. Obama's experience deficit relates to his having not "gained knowledge through direct observation or participation" in executive decisions, including military leadership decisions and the compromises that executives regularly make because of separation of powers. Arguably, he may have observed these decisions (or outcomes of these decisions) as a member of the legislative branch or through the testing of the campaign.

Palin's experience deficit relates to her not having "gained knowledge through direct observation or participation" in the operation of the federal government and bureaucracy, international diplomacy and military operations. Arguably, her experience with the state level bureaucracy translates to the federal government bureaucracy, but so far there has been no evidence suggesting that she has observed or thoughtfully considered military decisions or foreign relations at the federal level.
9.3.2008 3:33pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
matts. Lots of folks like that. Some get to be president.
Problem is, any military service automatically counts, for some reason.
Don't know for sure about that. My father was up to his butt in WW II (all about combined arms in Europe along a path 300 miles long and 300 yards wide) but didn't know anything at all about it until he got home to study it.
Which means, a certain perspective aside, any military historian, even an amateur, qualifies. You want to go there?
If the chickenhawk bullcrap is off the table, and it is, then the decisions are pretty simple, for complex decisions. Decide if it's worth the casualties the generals predict--a moral and geostrategic choice--by considering the probably results of other courses of action and their likely costs. Prepare for being blindsided by something unforeseen. Decide.
Amateurs get a kick out of mymissile'sbadderthanyourmissile, and comparing various wonky ordnance stuff. Professionals talk logistics. The CINC decides if it's worth it. Different concept altogether.
9.3.2008 3:51pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
AFAIK, I was the first on this board to mention Obama's experience per se from his presidential campaign, and I did so favorably. Which was surprising from me because I'm a Republican who supports McCain.

But I did not in any way refer to Obama's campaign experience as meaning executive experience. Instead I referred to it as indicative of character and personal growth, in particular as experience learning about America. The Iowa cacauses are critical here. Obama worked hard there in a town hall format where he had to deal with real people up close and personal, listening to their concerns and answering their questions.

Obama learned a very great deal about America, Americans, local and state politicians, and himself in the course of winning a hotly contested camapign for the Democratic nomination. THAT is the campaign experience I meant in first mentioning the subject here.

Furthermore he showed admirable coolness, determination and ability to focus and stick to his message at the times when Hillary had him down. The same applies to Hillary when she was losing. They both grew and changed in admirable ways in the course of a hard-fought campaign. Both their characters were tested hard, and both of them met those tests. He won and she didn't. That's life. A lot of Republicans, me included, had our opinions of Hillary Clinton significantly improve based on her conduct in this campaign.

The same goes for Barack Obama. IMO he was not qualified to be President two years ago, but he is now, and the difference is the pressure and adversity he experienced in this campaign against the very tough Hillary Clinton.

Character and temperment are not the same. John McCain clearly has the best character of the four nominees, and that has been demonstrated over his lifetime. McCain's temperment concerns me, especially his impulsiveness and short fuse.

Sarah Palin's temperment is unknown to me. Her winning a successful gubernatorial underdog campaign against a corrupt Republican machine, her conduct as Governor and her life experiences, demonstrate admirable character and remind me somewhat of Theodore Roosevelt. Her gubernatorial campaign in particular reassures me about her toughness.

IMO Obama has the best temperment of the four, particularly his coolness under pressure. I wouldn't call it "grace under pressure" because the pressure was not that great. He has demonstrated that he does not get rattled. IMO we can rely on him as President to make cool, calm and measured decisions. Obama's character, on the other hand, is clearly shaky. He's an ally of a corrupt political machine. He has made awful compromises for personal advancement.

Biden is clearly the worst of the four in terms of both temperment and character. My liberal Democratic wife refers to him as a "rabid squirrel". His character is awful. His temperment is pure Dennis Kuncinich, differing mostly in their personal relationship to space aliens.

Getting back to the subject though, Obama's campaign experience has revealed and hardened his temperment, and IMO made him qualified to be President.

I loathe and abhor his political policies, and dislike his character. His temperment, however, is the best of the four, and IMO it got that way to his experience winning the Democratic nomination for President.
9.3.2008 4:02pm
David Warner:
Thanks to MarkField and Thomas Holsinger for taking the time to contribute your thoughts.

Mark, I think that their experience with having to think of reasons they support Palin, and ways to counter objections, might actually make many thoughtful non-leftists more comfortable with a President Obama, if it comes to that.

Thomas_Holsinger, certainly 3 of the 4 would make much better Heads of State (from what I've so far seen of Palin) than the one we currently have, whatever his other virtues (and I do think he has some). His respect for the office might even make Biden finally grow up.
9.3.2008 4:33pm
nathan (mail):
The difference is that Obama has been making his case for being president to tens of millions of people, has had to defend/articulate his policy positions, taken adversarial questioning on these issues, and gain the votes of millions of voters. Palin on the other hand was plucked from the wilderness of Alaska, and is supposedly ready to be president, but isn't confident enough in her policies etc to take questions from the press. She's not even VP yet and McCain has already shipped her off to an "undisclosed location."
9.3.2008 4:50pm
LM (mail):
MF, TH and DW,

I think all four might be good Presidents. The most likely impediment to any of them succeeding is us.
9.3.2008 5:50pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
LM,

Biden would make a good President of Chechnya. He'd fit right in.
9.3.2008 6:41pm
Big Bill (mail):
Hardy:

One more reason I wish Colin Powell would reconsider his decision(s) not to run. He'd REALLY know what was going on.

Amen, Brother Hardy. It took a Republican to go to China and shake Chairman Mao's hand in 1972. The first black president could easily have been General Powell. Pity he didn't have an ego large enough?
9.3.2008 7:23pm
Big Bill (mail):
Smith:

Is it too late to change the nomination to:

Ron Paul/Sara Palin?


I could do Ron Paul/Sarah Palin OR Colin Powell/Sarah Palin and be quite happy.
9.3.2008 7:37pm
TruthInAdvertising:
"By the time he was a state senator, Palin moved on to Alaska's Ethics Commission."

I'm curious as to why you glossed over her appointment to the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. Please tell us what her qualifications were for that appointment and how she came to be in that position.
9.3.2008 7:47pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
Big Bill,

President Clinton knee-capped Powell in December 1995 when Powell was being talked up for the GOP race. Georgeanne Geyer did the hit.

Specifically, Powell had lied to both Bush 39 and Clinton about Bosnia - a clear violation of 18 USC 1001, and Clinton could prove it. Plus Powell had lots and lots of enemies in the Army and DOD, and Clinton offered a means of convenient payback. So they leaked their evidence to Clinton, and he leaked it to Geyer who published a little bit about it in her regular column.

The nominally secret cover story Powell gave out for deciding not to run was in fact true (which good cover stories are), that his wife was terrified some racist nutcase would kill him, and her concern was quite justified. Officially he said he had no ambition for elective office.

But the real reason Powell did not run for President in 1996 was that Clinton had really convincing documentary evidence about Powell's intentional lies, as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to two Presidents. Powell's character reputation was his biggest asset, and Clinton was ready to trash it with the truth about what a duplicitous SOB Powell really was.
9.3.2008 7:48pm
LM (mail):
Thomas_Holsinger:

I think all four might be good Presidents. The most likely impediment to any of them succeeding is us.

Biden would make a good President of Chechnya. He'd fit right in.

As I was saying....
9.3.2008 7:55pm
Suzy (mail):
I do appreciate the answers to my question, from Charlie and others. However, I don't think the lists of accomplishments are either true or impressive. First, she raised taxes while she was mayor, she did not cut them. She also has followed a very liberal policy in getting more money out of the oil companies, and she appears to have paid for projects by getting the federal govt. to fork over earmarks. I don't have any evidence yet that she secured convictions of corrupt politicians, but I do know she was the chair of Stevens' fundraising organization, and she seems to have been throwing her own weight around in office far beyond what I consider appropriate.

I'm just baffled, how could this be a good choice? The GOP has plenty of great women who would have been impressive running mates, but I guess too many of them are pro-choice and he had to go with someone who revved up the religious right. Unfortunately, that's not the direction I want to see the GOP travel. When religious right politicans can also offer fiscal responsibility or other creative ideas that can solve problems, I vote for them. Otherwise, in her case I'm just seeing a small-timer who appeals to that far-right religious group. I guess McCain needs them to turn out.

As I talk to other people about the nomination, I'm finding that older folks are turned off by his choice. It seems to be the younger and most religious elements who like her.
9.3.2008 8:02pm
CB55 (mail):
This selection of Palin shows the poor judgment, experience and wisdom of McCain. It looks to me this was a last minute deal for her. I can see talking heads months from now blaming her if they lose. She will be the fall on the sword and the GOP will give her some pop corn and a coke and say stick around and wait. Sure both parties have done a reversal - last month the GOP was all over Obama for his supposed lack of experience, but today the GOP comes up with Palin who like Palin has a very thin resume. Both parties embraced their Great Leader.

I do not know if privacy is a big deal in the USA anymore. The Bush Admin monitors all calls, all Internet traffic, and personal information. Brad Pitt and his family never have a private day at home or away.


The GOP has talked a great deal about sex and abortion and they just do not talk about it they wish to regulate it and when you regulate abortion and sex education that is in deed no longer a personal private family matter. McCain/Palin want to make it their business to regulate abortion by making it illegal and that means they wish to regulate my family. Since they are on my dime or wish to be on my dime I wanna know they or their family have ever had an abortion, used a condom, the pill, or any man made birth control device? I wanna know their plans for taking care of orphans and all of these unwanted babies besides jail, prison and or a $300 tax credit.
9.3.2008 8:12pm
CB55 (mail):
Everyone that has written their rebuttal to my original post did not address the issue. The GOP has selected a man with little public office experience and that man was Abe Lincoln. Last month the GOP dogged Obama about his lack of public office expeience, but today they fall behind a lady that has even less public office tenure. It is the case that McCain, Obama, Biden do not have any executive office experience, so the argument for Palin as to her 2 years of executive experience is moot. Her so called foreign relations experience is moot - every state CEO is engaged in international trade see Texas and California. The state CEO does not sign off on international trade agreements, but the US congress does
9.3.2008 8:24pm
SeaDrive:
Thomas_Holsinger: Everything turned by a quick Google search on "Colin Powell" and "Georgeanne Geyer" has your fingerprints on it. You seem to be the only one in the know. I have to say it does not correlate well with W picking Powell for Secretary of State.
9.3.2008 8:43pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
SeaDrive,

I am touched by your confidence in the judgment of our current President, and by your faith in the comprehensiveness of internet cataloging of 1995-96 weekly and monthly articles by newspaper columnists.

Furthermore I assure you that such confidence is of equal merit in both instances. This demonstrates your judgment and intelligence.
9.3.2008 9:10pm
CB55 (mail):
You know McCain is on the ropes because they gave a big party and they had lots of empty seats. Today Republican consultant Mike Murphy and Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan were caught on a live mike ridiculing the choice of Sarah Palin. When the GOP saw they could not win the argument as to Palin's lack of experience and the judgment of McCain they had a barn fire and hoped the Liberal press and Democrats got burned.
9.3.2008 9:25pm
Uthaw:
The relentless spamming posts of CB55 show that the O-bots desperately desire the Republicans simply to go away and stop impeding The Messiah's triumphal march to his coronation. How dare they even contest His election? Why, even to run against him is racist!
9.3.2008 9:42pm