Thursday, March 6, 2008

Experience and the Democratic Nomination

I was talking with my colleague Jerry Smith today about the latest turn of the Democratic presidential race. Jerry is a conservative Republican, so he's really enjoying all of this...and like many GOP faithful are praying for Hillary to win the nomination.

One of the subjects we discussed was all of the hullabaloo about Clinton's claims that she has the experience to take the 3am phone call and Obama doesn't. It's all crap. It's not as if Obama, or any President for that matter, will live in seclusion and make all the decisions by themselves. There will be advisors everywhere: NSC, Pentagon, Secratary of State, etc. It's the quality of the team that you can build that makes any enterprise successful. Great CEO's don't know the ins and outs of every element of their businesses and neither do great Presidents. Was Reagan an expert on any issue? Probably not. But he was a great leader and surrounded himself with experts.

Hillary touts her 8 years in the White House. Jerry quipped that he heard someone in the media (undoubtedly Fox News because he doesn't accept that any other media exists) that using that logic, a chef who served in the White House can make the same claim. Now I do not doubt that she was far more involved in the Clinton White House than the chef, let's not confuse lunch with Tony Blair's wife with foreign policy experience either. Hyperbole works both ways.

Now Bill Clinton is widely lauded as a great President. Interestingly he was the same age as Obama when he ran for President and did just fine. Jerry noted that he's usually go with someone with gubernatorial experience over a Senator. He thinks the executive experience goes a long way (editor's note: Jerry was a Mitt supporter. We all know how that turned out).

Let's look at Bill's experience prior to entering the White House (we will skip the extramarital encounters segment, but clearly that experience didn't help either when you consider that as the most powerful man in the world he hooked up with Monica). So what was Bill's great accomplishments at Governor of Arkansas -- finishing 49th out of 50 states in education? Did dealing with the backwaters of Arkansas provide any special insight into dealing with third-world countries.

And finally, I think that all Democrats can agree that experience doesn't necessarily lead to good results or good judgment. Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld served in government for years. So did our friend "Brownie". 'Nuff said.

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