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Monday, September 01, 2008

There are good reasons to be concerned about the Palin pick. She's a virtual unknown to the American people and we don't know how she will handle the pressure of national media attacks, I mean, "scrutiny." We'll learn more about her judgment in office as time goes on, but I have something to say with regard to "experience."

Point 1: Governor Trumps Legsilator
There is a reason that no United States Senator has been elected President since 1968. Legislative experience is not good preparation for the presidency. The vast majority of legislators do very little in the way of actual decision making. Most, including Obama, vote with their parties 90+% of the time. Even McCain voted with his party 88% of the time. You can make the argument that McCain or Biden have demonstrated some leadership on this issue or that issue. You really can't make the argument that Obama has been a leader on anything - other than taking credit for things that the state legislative leadership pushed his way at the end of a session to give him something to put on a mailer for his Senate race.

I worked in Congress for five years. After leaving Congress, I worked in local government for a long time. Based on my observation, a county executive makes more real decisions in two weeks than the typical legislator makes in two years. Executives have to make decisions constantly. Legislators, they are one vote in a hundred. Power is dispersed and accountability, zero.

How many times have you seen a legislator haul up the chairman of a committee to castigate them for a policy failure? Did Congress investigate itself after Katrina? For good or bad, Executives are where the buck stops. Sarah Palin has sat in the Governor's chair. The buck stopped with her.

It was telling that Obama had to come out and say that a staff member screwed up by sending out an attack on Palin after the announcement. That's what legislators do. They deflect blame. Executives don't have that luxury.

Point 2: Confusing High office with High Ability

William F. Buckley once said that he would rather be governed by the first 200 names in the Boston phone book than the Harvard faculty. He was right.

Similarly, I suspect that most Americans see more wisdom in their small town mayors than they do from members of Congress.

Point 3: Confusing intelligence with wisdom

Fancy law degrees don't make someone wise, ask former Democratic VP candidate John Edwards. Likewise, there is an assumption that goes back to the Woodrow Wilson progressive days that if we could just give our government over to smart people, then it would work fine. Too many rubes ruining democracy, you know!

The fact is, we need more regular people in government. Palin has demonstrated that she has good judgment in a number of ways. She's an impressive person. But she's no Washington prima donna. That's a good thing, not a bad one.

Point 4: Tale of the Tape

The rules always seem to change for Republicans and Democrats. Let's try to agree on a consistent rule here.

It's not ok to run for VP after 18 months as governor. But it is ok to run for PRESIDENT after 24 months in the Senate (both Edwards and Obama did that). How is that possible? Isn't it fair to say that a Governor earns far more relevant experience in 18 months than a senator does in 24? Factor in all the months of legislative recess and I think 2 years of senate work is actually more like 18 months anyway.

Given that you can't actually do much legislating when you are running for president full time, it can't be that Obama and Edwards have any more governmental experience (and they were running for president).

I've heard that Obama's inexperience doesn't count because he ran a successful campaign. Is running a successful campaign really the best measure of presidential potential? By that measure, Edwards should not have been chosen as Kerry's pick. Likewise, Biden, who has failed miserably in all his campaigns.

Remind me again how is it that Tim Kaine was on the Democrats list of VP finalists? Didn't he come in the same time as Palin?


Does this mean that Palin is a good pick? Not necessarily. But saying she is too "inexperienced" holds her to a far different standard than any other vice presidential candidate.

As noted below, I do have concerns about the pick seeming like identity politics and appearing desperate. I don't have concerns about Palin's experience, though, and so far, her political judgment sounds remarkable and the criticism of her as some crazy Buchananite nut seem way off base.

Politically, Palin has the potential to be extremely good or extremely bad. Given McCain's popularity with the base (minimal), I think it is more likely good.


One other thing. Elections are won at the top of the ticket, not the bottom, and the winner is typically the person who fights on the ground of their choosing by defining what the election is about. We've spent two days talking about experience. Tell me again how that works in Obama's favor?


I can't wait to see the ad featuring Mayor after Mayor of small towns endorsing McCain. With text under each one - Mayor, town of 8,556; Mayor, Pop. 2,567. Why would the Obama campaign denigrate small town America? Pair it with the voiceover of folks "clinging to their guns and religion" and you have a nice ad for PA and Ohio.

Just more evidence of the Ivy League genius on display at the Obama campaign.


Hey Brother,
It was fun talking to you the other night about how delusional you are. I enjoyed this 4 point essay on why experience doesn't matter and I wonder if this will actually help obama. Hasn't it been your party saying the absolute opposite of your essay for the past 6 months? Now, like your on a high school debate you just switch sides. lol. I don't think team obama is going to take the bait and talk about palin for the next 2 months. What will happen is the bloggers and news media will tear her apart and team obama will hammer away on mccains wild judgement. I mean, how many of you would let someone babysit your kids after only meeting them once, let alone let them watch over the entire country? I do see that it is a good pick to inspire the base since it mostly consists of horny frat boys. I wonder if her being a jesus freak is going to turn most people off and the last time I heard stats on republican women is that 60% are pro-choice. It's a bummer about your convention but this is probably the best thing since your party is pretty hated right now. I am also shocked at how you advance the idea of the common man thinker over someone educated. You are a college professor afterall. I'm sure that means you be teaching your kids that books and education aren't all that important.
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