Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Experience Card In Campaigns

Since it is primarily the Clinton campaign making the issue , let's address it there on two fronts, both experience and inexperience. I'm sorry Hillary, being a wife isn't a resume, I don't care who the husband is. Being completely out of the responsibility loop with voters (or other) is not experience, it's play time. Your Senate tenure is your resume, those are your votes and speeches on a responsible level. As for your "experience" somehow qualifying you above the other candidates, what does that say about Bill Clinton? Your experience level trumps the guy you claim to have gotten the immaterial experience from. A governor from Arkansas is not a US Senator, not now, not ever. But, then on the other hand being a governor involves some responsibilities that a US Senator doesn't have, that have in the past trumped senators. Your experience claims are getting you into all sorts of logical trouble, you have a name and a Senate resume, the name is immaterial as qualifications and the Senate record reeks for a Democrat.

Bashing Clinton's faux experience is fun, but it's too easy, there remains the real issue of what experience means. In '04 GeorgeII had much more extensive experience than Kerry, that counted for exactly what? It has done this nation exactly what good? Experience is meaningless when it is undercut by bad judgement or bad appointments. You are not electing experience, you are electing a manager. Nobody has Presidential experience except an incumbent or former President. Even a President is not truly experienced, not in the sense of the doing of a thing. The President is the source of judgement, the expertise is provided by his advisors or appointees. This is the foundation of experience, the President cannot be an ignoramous, but the skill of taking in information and synthesizing a principled and effective course is not the same as having done.

One reason governors are such good candidates is that they can point to that type of managerial experience, this is what they have already done and Senators cannot make that claim. At least not with as publicly identifiable successes (or failures) can they point to their managerial experience. Hillary Clinton's managerial experience is already laid upon some extremely shaky ground with her inclusion of her husband's experience, Whitewater and Travel Office all seem to have been laid at her feet. The fact that these were Republican generated scandals does not negate the fact that there was enough wrong with them to give them something to hang their hats on. The BushCo culture of loyalty doesn't much surpass the Clinton one, and the stupidity engaged in for the sake of loyalty is a matter of record.

For a simple example of an experience gap, let's see exactly how many of the candidates are rocket scientists - hmm - not a one. But hey, NASA is an important program as are military rocket programs, what is to be done? Send them to MIT? Health care is an important issue, which one of these people has long term experience in the industry? Or is it that in order to begin to solve this difficult problem we need to run a candidate from which part of the industry? An insurance company comptroller? A hospital director? I want a very good manager with principles and policies that mostly reflect mine, I don't give a rat's patoot about experience in particular policy areas.

Policy and principles are, of course, the tough calls. Does the candidate mean it and will he follow through? This experience counts. Is there a track record of dedication to the causes reflected in their rhetoric? Does their rhetoric make sense in the face of reality? Is the candidate a fighter? I'm afraid the bogus experience metric counts for almost nothing in that respect.

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