Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Relevancy deficit and the experience issue

Both Dean Barnett and Gerard Baker have written interesting columns on Sarah Palin and Barack Obama.

Barnett notes that Obama is a high pedigree underachiever: Harvard Law educated . . . but he buggered off for two years to write a memoir and find himself before matriculating at a small Chicago firm that did not require either the tremendously hard work nor intellectual acuity that a top firm would have (and as a black man who had excelled at Harvard, Obama could pick his employer). He won a state assembly seat after kicking his competition off the ballot through detailed, legalistic and frequently picayune challenges to ballot petitions . . . and did little with it. He won a Senate campaign after his top competitor withdrew . . . and has no legislative accomplishments in the Senate.

But Palin is the opposite -- a low pedigree overachiever: she graduated from the University of Idaho -- not a school that attracts the future Fulbright and Rhodes scholars of America. She married young and immediately started a family, then became involved in local issues before becoming a town councilman, then the mayor of her hometown, then the first woman governor of Alaska. At each stop, she's had important legal achievements -- from lowering taxes to dethroning the corrupt Frank Murkowski to rooting out corruption in Alaskan politics. She's not a career politician who has merely bopped from post-to-post.

Who would you rather have as President? The brainiac v. enacter dichotomy is a real one in politics. Woodrow Wilson was supposedly ridiculously well-qualified to be president because he had a tremendous academic background; as president, he was awful. But Lincoln had 18 months of formal schooling and Reagan graduated from that non-Ivy League stalwart, Eureka College.

BUT that's not the question because Palin is running for vice-president.

Get it, yet? These comparisons of Obama with Palin are terrible twice over for the Democrats: first, his accomplishments don't exceed hers; second, he's running for the most important political position in the world. Saying that she's only a heartbeat away from the presidency as a scare tactic is foolish -- Obama has no experience and wants to BE the president.

Are you really voting for the Veep?

No, you're voting for the president. But if the presidential candidate's own accomplishments make Dan Quayle circa 1988 look like a poster-child for a leadership conference, the presidential candidate has no resume to run on. And Obama doesn't.

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