Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Qualified to be President?

Even though Election Day 2008 is almost a year and a half away, it seems like we're already in the middle of the hiring process for the next President of the United States. This job search, however, differs from pretty much every other job search in that hardly anyone seems to be interested in the candidates qualifications. If we restrict ourselves to the top tier candidates - the top 4 from each party that have a realistic chance at winning the presidency - that leaves us with Hillary Clinton, Barak Obama, John Edwards, and Bill Richardson for the Democrats (I'll assume Gore isn't going to change his mind and run) and Rudy Guliani, John McCain, Fred Thompson, and Mitt Romney for the Republicans. On average, their resumes don't strike me as terribly impressive.

On average, the candidates for the most powerful position in the world have 12.1 years of either federal or state-wide elected or appointed government experience, and that's including Hillary Clinton's 8 years as first-lady and Rudy Guliani's 8 years as mayor of a town that's bigger than most states. If we remove John McCain's 25 years of government experience and Bill Richardson's 23 years, that leaves us with an average of 8.3 years in major elected or appointed office. As far as experience goes, the top-tier candidates can be divided into 3 groups: the veterans, the qualified, and the "outsiders", as they like to call themselves.

The Veterans:
When you look at the numbers, there are two candidates that really stand out from the rest as experienced political veterans: Bill Richardson and John McCain. Richardson served as a congressman for 14 years, Secretary of Energy, Ambassador to the U.N., and, currently, as governor of New Mexico. John McCain has been in Congress since the early 1980's and is the only major candidate with military experience - which included five and a half years as a POW in North Vietnam. Clearly, these two stand head and shoulders above the crowd in terms of experience. This, however, doesn't seem to be helping them much as McCain has been loosing momentum recently and Richardson has yet to get out of the single digits in national polls.

The Qualified:
The next group
consists of Hillary Clinton and Rudy Guliani, who have 15 and 14 years of experience, respectively. However, both of them have somewhat questionable backgrounds in terms of nation-wide, federal government experience. Clinton, of course, spent 8 years as First Lady before launching her own political career, but she has only actually been on a ballot twice in her life. Guliani gained his experience as a federal prosecutor and mayor of New York, but New York is a far cry from Anytown, USA. These two have done their time in public office, but they're not without questions about their experience.

The "Outsiders":

Half of the top-tier candidates f
all into the last group: those who would like to be seen as Washington "outsiders". They are Barak Obama, John Edwards, Fred Thompson, and Mitt Romney. Between them, they average a whopping 5.3 years in public office ranging between a high of 8 years for Thompson and a low of 4 years for Romney. These four are banking on being seen as untainted by Washington. Personally, I can believe that for Obama and Romney, who are very new to national politics. Obama is a first term senator and Romney's only government experience was one term as governor of Massachusetts. Edwards and Thompson, however, are a different story. Although both served only one full term in the Senate, Edwards was a Vice Presidential candidate in 2004 and Thompson's career - aside from acting - mostly consisted of time as a D.C. lobbyist. These two, in my eyes, have the thoughest road of all because they lack both the freshness of Romney and Obama and the experience of McCain, Richardson, Clinton, and Guliani. While these four may want their lack of experience to be seen as being untainted by politics as usual, they certainly won't be elected be on their public service records.

I don't mean to say that we should all vote for Richardson or McCain because they have been in government for a while, but I do believe that experience is important in weighing a candidate. Is a few years as a senator or governor enough to make a good President? Ronal
d Regan would seem show the answer to be "yes", while the current president might be a good example of why the answer is "no". In any event, experience is definitely something to look at when choosing a candidate.

And if you're looking for a candidate with absolutely no major government experience, Ralph Nader is "seriously considering" running for President again next fall.

1 comment:

  1. Great post Nick. The only thing I would add is the possibity that Bloomburg may run.

    There's an idea floating around that he wouldn't expect to win, but mearly take away enough electorial votes that nobody has a majority. In that case he could wheel and deal to get his influence in the door in exchange for the votes.

    But, he probably won't even run.


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