“Experience” And The U.S. Presidency

There’s been a lot of talk during this election about “experience” and about who’s “qualified” for the job of President and who isn’t.

For a long time, the claims of inexperience were largely directed at Barack Obama, but with McCain’s pick of the relatively unknown Sarah Palin as his VP candidate, both sides are now letting the accusations of inexperience fly.

A couple of thoughts on why I think all of this is overblown:

First, it seems clear that neither party really cares too much about having experience in the White House.

After campaigning for so long about how Obama is unqualified for the job because of his lack of experience, it seems a little inconsistent that McCain, an old man who’s had significant health problems, would choose a running mate who is similarly inexperienced when there’s a real chance that she could end up as President.

On the other side, what’s up with the Democrats complaining about the inexperience of Palin (the number two on the Republican ticket), when their would-be President Obama has no experience to speak of either?

Oh, the irony.

Secondly, while I’ll certainly agree that some candidates are more qualified and have more experience than others, and while some presidents have certainly turned out to be up to the job, is anyone really qualified to have the job of the most powerful person on the planet?

I’m thinking the only person in history with that degree of qualification would be Jesus, and He really wasn’t interested in political power…


Anonymous 9/17/08, 4:20 PM  

Your second point is really key. Some of our worst leaders have probably had a great deal of experience before their ascension to the presidency.

Will 9/17/08, 6:12 PM  

I bet Grover Cleveland didn't have an experience problem.

Luke Dockery 9/18/08, 10:35 AM  


I'm no presidential historian, but I think that is probably true. And I think the reverse is probably true as well. For example, I don't think FDR had much experience before he was elected.

Looking back, I know some people he was a great president and others think he was terrible, but at least at the time people seemed to like him, judging by the fact that he kept getting elected over and over.

Luke Dockery 9/18/08, 10:37 AM  


A big touché to you. I didn't think about Cleveland, but I kind of think that we would be the exception that proves the rule, so to speak.

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