What is that fuss about "experience" all about?

Discussion in 'Politics & Law' started by Sim, Aug 31, 2008.

  1. Sim

    Sim Registered Member

    The issue of "experience" seems very important in this campaign. Obama is attacked for an alleged lack of experience. So is Palin. But does it really matter?

    So let's be fair and check the facts.

    I'll make a list of a few (former) Presidents and their respective experience before elected to office, with best intentions and conscience.

    Abraham Lincoln:
    1834-42 Illinois legislature (8 years)
    1847-49 House of Representatives (2 years)
    1855 and 1858: loses election for Senate

    So Lincoln had zero executive experience and only 10 years of legislative experience.

    Woodrow Wilson:
    1911-13: Governor of New Jersey (2 years)

    Wilson had only 2 years of executive experience. Before that, he had been a university director for 8 years.

    Franklin D. Roosevelt:
    1911-13: New York state legislature (2 years)
    1929-33: Governor of New York state (4 years)

    FDR had only 4 years of executive experience, and 2 years of legislative (6 years total).

    George W. Bush:
    1995-2000: Governor of Texas (5 years)
    no other political experience whatsoever before

    Bush had only 5 years of executive experience, really not much.

    Barack Obama:
    1996-2004: Illinois legislative (8 years)
    2004-present: Senator (4 years)

    With 12 years as an elected official, that makes Obama more experienced than all of the aforementioned. He also is the only one with experience in Washington, except for Lincoln, who had 2 years in the House.

    Sarah Palin:
    1992-2002: local low level politics (10 years)
    2006-present: Governor of Alaska (not even 2 years)

    I don't know if any of the aforementioned had experience with local politics, even below state level, maybe it was considered way too unimportant to be mentioned in the articles I linked to.

    But it should be obvious that Palin is the one candidate of all mentioned with the least experience on either state or national level, with the possible exception of Woodrow Wilson.

    Lincoln, Wilson and FDR are generally considered rather successful Presidents. Bush is the current President. Obama and Palin are candidates.

    What do we find? When we count all political experience on state or national level, we see that Obama has most experience (12 years), even more than Lincoln or FDR. Palin clearly has least experience (1.5 years).

    When we count major offices, like Senator and Governor only, we find Obama has about the same experience as FDR and George W. Bush (4 to 5 years), and even more than Lincoln (none) and Wilson (2 years).

    What can we conclude? "Experience", in mere number of years of being elected official, obviously is no important yardstick to determine a successful presidency. Some Presidents considered successful today had very few years of political experience before elected President.

    And: Obama is certainly not less experienced than most of them.
    Duke1985 likes this.

  2. MenInTights

    MenInTights not a plastic bag

    The two problems I have with your idea of experience is it doesn't take into account business experience and it doesn't account for accomplishments.

    Palin was a successful business owner long before she entered politics. Obama was a community organizer. What the hell is that? Although, I don't know, it sounds like what Al Sharpton does after a cop shots an African-Amercan in NYC.

    More importantly is what Palin accomplished in her short time as governor. Here's a short list of things off the top of my head:
    --She passed a progressive tax on oil companies operating in Alaska. Instead of a flat tax on production, it is now based on the price of crude when it comes out of the ground.
    --She passed a $1200 rebate check for every man, woman and child in Alaska.
    --She negotiated a deal with a Canadian firm to develop a gas pipeline from the North Slop of Alaska to Canada.
    --She eliminated the fuel tax.
    --She used her veto power extensively to cut hundred of millions out of the budget.
    With all of these things above, she had immense support from the people of Alaska, but almost no support from the legislator. In fact, most of this was done in special session that the governor called becuase the legislators "ran out of time".
    Citizens love Palin (85%+) approval ratings / politicians hate her.

    Maybe Obama did great things in IL. I have no idea. I know that he fought against the born alive act, but that's all I know.
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2008
  3. Tucker

    Tucker Lion Rampant

    Do they still? I wonder. A recent poll of Alaskans found 87% of respondents believing she had lied about Troopergate. And now this whole pregnancy thing...

    Oh, OP, you forgot one:

    George Washington:
    May-Sept 1787 President of Constitutional Convention (3+ months)

    Such a paltry record of elected service! However did this novice politician weasel his way into our nation's highest office?
  4. MenInTights

    MenInTights not a plastic bag

    Maybe because he was the General of the American Revolution? I heard it was a really close race between him and the "community organizer" of Philadelphia.
  5. Tucker

    Tucker Lion Rampant

    Military apples and political oranges. The fact remains that he had less than half a year of elected experience. And I think you've missed my implication; the main reason Washington was tapped, I think, was that he was a born leader with a brilliantly focused strategic mind. Jumping to the present, I see a measure more of that rare quality in Obama than I do in McCain.

    With apologies for length and transcribed format issues (too lazy to re-edit), here is more on Palin's swiftly falling popularity level at home:
    McCain Defends Palin's Fitness as Some Alaskans Question It
    By Tony Hopfinger and Ken Fireman

    Sept. 1 (Bloomberg) -- To Senator John McCain, his running mate, Sarah Palin, is a ``soul mate'' who will help him battle corruption in Washington.
    People in the Alaska governor's home state -- including a supporter of her last run for office, a former staffer and some residents of her home town -- are less certain of her credentials to be vice president.
    ``She's a reformer,'' said Republican presidential candidate McCain, who is set to accept the nomination at the Republican National Convention, which begins today in St. Paul, Minnesota.
    ``I have watched her for many years,'' McCain said yesterday on Fox News Sunday. ``I've seen her take on her own party. This is a person that will help me reform Washington.''
    Still, a growing chorus of Alaskans expressed reservations.
    ``She's not qualified, she doesn't have the judgment, to be next in line to the president of the United States,'' Larry Persily, who until June worked in the governor's Washington office as a congressional liaison, said in a phone interview.
    A supporter of Palin's campaign for governor, Jim Whitaker, the Republican mayor of Fairbanks, also questioned Palin's readiness to serve as vice president.
    `Avid Supporter'
    Whitaker said that while he is ``still an avid supporter'' of Palin as governor, he will continue to back Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.
    Palin, 44, is less than halfway through her first term as governor. Before her election to that post, she served on a state commission that regulated the energy industry and was mayor of the town of Wasilla, which had an estimated population in 2007 of 9,780, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
    Persily, who worked for three different governors in the state's Washington office, said he left the job on good terms with Palin.
    He said Palin owed her election to the unpopularity of then-Governor Frank Murkowski, whom Palin defeated in the Republican primary by running on a platform of overhauling state government. ``He created her,'' Persily said. Murkowski declined to comment.
    Home-state newspapers also questioned McCain's choice.
    `Not Ready'
    ``Most people would acknowledge that, regardless of her charm and good intentions, Palin is not ready for the top job,'' the Fairbanks News-Miner newspaper wrote in an Aug. 29 editorial. ``McCain seems to have put his political interests ahead of the nation's when he created the possibility that she might fill it.''
    The Anchorage Daily News, the state's largest paper, noted in an editorial that Palin is enmeshed in a legislative investigation of her July 11 firing of the state's public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan. He has since asserted that he received pressure from Palin's family and administration to fire a state trooper involved in a contentious divorce from Palin's sister.
    In Palin's home town of Wasilla, residents were divided yesterday over her fitness for national office.​
  6. Sim

    Sim Registered Member

    I think we either have to limit the focus of "experience" on political experience, or it becomes completely arbitrary and thus useless. For example, you'd have to consider Obama's experience as lawyer (he even taught Constitutional law for several years at a college). Or FDR's experience as vice secretary of the Navy (IIRC). Or Bush's experience as manager in the pockets of big oil. Or Wilson's experience as university director.

    When we do all that, we derive into a comparison of apples with oranges. That's why I'd say let's either limit our focus to political experience, or drop it alltogether.

    I think voluntary community work counts for more experience than running a small business. But as I said, we can compare apples and oranges all day, and yet not find a solution.

    As for Palin, I am not saying she is not fit for office. That was my original point: That even politicians with few political experience eventually became successful presidents.

    And maybe she did a lot in these 1.5 years as Alaska Governor, I don't know, but that does not mean she is "experienced". It just means she is ambitious and active. Good qualities, maybe, but not "experience". She still is a newbee.

    At any rate, you cannot attack Obama for an alleged lack of experience, and at the same time support Palin. No matter how you interpret the numbers, she is far less experienced than Obama.

    But my original point was that "experience" is by far not as important as some people may claim it is. I'd think we all had better arguments if we addressed Obama's, McCain's and Palin's judgment, platform and record, instead of fixating on "experience". Just because you do a certain job for the first time doesn't mean you'll be bad at it. And just because you have done similar jobs before doesn't mean you are still up to a new job, or that you are necessarily good at it.
  7. MenInTights

    MenInTights not a plastic bag

    "he was a born leader with a brilliantly focused strategic mind."
    ..and he proved it on the battlefield.

    "I see a measure more of that rare quality in Obama"
    ..and he proved it where?

    "than I do in McCain."
    I think there's no need to go over McCain's battlefield experience. Being a born leader and smooth talker are 2 different things.

    I agree with that.
  8. Wade8813

    Wade8813 Registered Member

    Experience does matter, but obviously it's not the be-all end-all. It's one of many things to look at in a candidate. Obviously, since no candidate is perfect, there will be some good leaders who didn't have experience. But that doesn't mean you ignore it entirely.

    A lack of experience doesn't mean you'll do poorly at a job, and experience doesn't mean you'll do well. But almost every time, a person with experience will do better than that same person without experience.
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2008
  9. Jeanie

    Jeanie still nobody's bitch V.I.P. Lifetime

    Actually that's not true. He voted against that bill because he didn't like some of the language included in it. Furhermore, Illinois already had protections for aborted fetuses born alive in place.
  10. Van

    Van Heavy Weapons Guy V.I.P.

    Let's say you own microsoft. You are looking to hire a manager. One guy has experience in management and had previously worked as a manager for another similar, yet smaller competing company. Another applicant has no experience in management but says he will be good at it and you take notice he is a good speaker. He previously worked as a car salesman. Who do you hire?

    The simple truth is that Palin ( a VP candidate) has more experience than Obama (the PRESIDENTIAL candidate).

    Which of these scenarios do you think is more probable? The person who has done a similar job will do a better job at the newer similar job almost every time.
    MenInTights likes this.

Share This Page