Thursday, February 28, 2008

How Much Does Experience Matter?

obama has experience. just not a lot of washington experience.
but how much does experience matter anway? after all, roosevelt was called inexperienced. frankly, i'm not voting for obama based on nafta or healthcare. i'm not sure i agree with him completely on nafta and healthcare will be tough to make happen.
what obama has is the ability to lead, not to be underestimated (as it has been during this campaign).
i agree with his philosophy that change can only happen from the bottom up. if we want to cut back on oil consumption, it has to be the average american who stops to think before they purchase a gas guzzler or who decides to ride a bike more often. sure, government can play a role, demand automakers to increase fuel efficiency, for example. but change happens at the grassroots level and obama has proven masterful at grassroots organization.
he's also offering something that no president in recent history has offered: access. we will have access to an obama administration.
we'll be better informed of what's going on and what we can do.
his campaign has also been positive, not for the cynical, for sure. it has confounded the people who think politics can never be anything other than sleazy.
i also believe him. no, i don't think he's going to make all my dreams come true but he's going to try and do things differently and see if he can get better results.

here's a story on this topic:

There's something egglike about the concept of experience as a qualification for the highest office. At first blush, the idea appears to be something you can get your hands around. Presidential experience means a familiarity with the levers and dials of government, knowing how to cajole the Congress, understanding when to rely on the Joint Chiefs of Staff and when to call on the National Security Council — that sort of thing. But bear down even slightly, and the notion of experience is liable to crack and run all over. If knowing the system is so useful, then second-term presidencies should be more successful than first-term. Instead, many Presidents lose effectiveness as they go along. Lyndon Johnson, for example: his experience as a master legislator no doubt helped as he steered his historic civil rights and welfare agenda to passage. By the end of two years as President, however, "he was out of gas," recalls Johnson aide Harry McPherson. The longer Johnson was in the Oval Office, the more feckless his presidency became.

Was it Franklin Roosevelt's experience as governor of New York that gave him the power to inspire in some of the nation's darkest hours? Or was that gift a distillate of his dauntless battle with polio? To a keen student of human nature, all of life offers lessons in how to lead, inspire and endure. Lincoln's ability to apply useful lessons from his motley experiences was among his most striking traits. When Ulysses Grant explained his grand strategy to defeat Lee by attacking on multiple fronts, Lincoln immediately thought of a lesson in joint operations learned years earlier on the farm. "Those not skinning can hold a leg," he said approvingly. For other temperaments, no amount of schooling, no matter how specific, will do. Richard Nixon served as a Congressman, Senator and Vice President; he watched from the front row as Eisenhower assembled one of the best-organized administrations in history. When Nixon's turn came, though, his core character — insecure, insincere, conspiratorial — led him to create a White House doomed by its own dysfunction. time

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