Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Obama: this isn't a winning argument

Highlighted on Barack Obama's official site is this article:
The presidency - no experience needed?

Those who chide Democratic Sen. Barack Obama for the slenderness of his curriculum vitae should heed the historical record, which shows that vast prior experience is no guarantee of a successful presidency and limited previous experience does not portend failure. The record also suggests that there is no particular connection between prior experience and performance in the White House.
Given that our current president is a poster child for the perils of inexperience, is this really the case Obama's team wants make?

The article goes on to describe extremely experienced candidates (James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson) who failed once in the office, contrasted with inexperienced candidates who are now seen as great historical figures (Woodrow Wilson). He also attempts to make the case that FDR, Lincoln and Washington had thin resume's:
FDR served two years in the New York state senate, seven years as assistant secretary of the Navy and four years as governor of New York.
That's thin? A background in legislative, executive and foreign policy experience. That's the definition of experience for the job.

As for Washington, he's dismissed as "a professional soldier" who attended the first and second Congressional Congresses. Of course, on top of his military experience:
Washington was elected as a representative to the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1758 from Frederick County. From 1760 to 1774 he served as a justice of Fairfax County.His experience on the county court and in the colonial legislature molded his views on Parliamentary taxation of the Colonies after 1763. He opposed the Stamp Act in 1765, arguing that Parliament "hath no more right to put their hands into my pocket, without my consent, than I have to put my hands into yours for money." As a member of the colonial legislature, he backed non-importation as a means of reversing British policy in the 1760s, and in 1774 he attended the rump session of the dissolved Assembly, which called for a Continental Congress to take united colonial action against the Boston Port Bill and other "Intolerable Acts" directed against Massachusetts.

In July 1774 Washington presided at the county meeting which adopted the Fairfax Resolves, which he had helped write. These resolves influenced the adoption of the Continental Association, the plan devised by the First Continental Congress for enforcing non-importation of British goods. They also proposed the creation in each county of a militia company independent of the royal governor's control, the idea from which the Continental Army developed. By May 1775 Washington, who headed the Fairfax militia company, had been chosen to command the companies of six other counties. The only man in uniform when the Second Continental Congress met after the battles of Lexington and Concord, he was elected unanimously as commander in chief of all Continental Army forces. From June 15, 1775, until Dec. 23, 1783, he commanded the Continental Army and, after the French alliance of 1778, the combined forces of the United States and France in the War of Independence against Great Britain.
Barack Obama needs to make the case that (like Lincoln) his years in the Illinois legislature, his open opposition to the Iraq war and his years in the Senate are experience. Not that experience is overrated.

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