Posted by: coloradokiwi | February 8, 2008

Not that kind of experience

There are a lot of people in the political landscape, but particularly among Clinton supporters, who criticize Obama as being “inexperienced.”  I think for the most part this critique has a lot of credence:  although Barack has years of experience as an organizer and legislator, he certainly is a bit light on much else of note.  Although I think to be fair some of Hillary’s “experience” is a little trumped up, by any reasonable measure she really does have a lot more experience than Barack, particularly at the Federal level.

However, an aphorism among Clinton supporters that seems to have a little bit of traction is “Well, eight years of Bush has taught us the folly of going with someone who people like but would require on the job training.”  Well, yeah, who could argue with that?

The problem is, that’s the wrong analogy.  Bush was a disaster not because of lack of experience.  Bush was a disaster because he lacks wisdom, is stubborn, is inflexible, and because, and this is the most significant of all, he surrounded himself with highly experienced fantasists.  By all accounts, his most significant influences were Cheney and Rumsfeld, who between them are just about the most experienced people you could hope to have in cabinet.  Only switching out James Baker for Colin Powell, the latter himself still quite experienced, would have made that cabinet more experienced with regard to foreign relations and the like.  Bush heeded their advice, based on decades of experience, and we have the most disastrous presidency in living memory (well, okay I’ll throw a bone to those Carter haters).  Bush’s crucial character flaws, mixed with their experienced but highly misguided notions,  has created this mess.

Barack does lack experience, and contrary to some thinking about Washington outsiderism, this is not in my view an asset.  However, quite unlike Bush, Barack seems wise, measured, and capable of coming to well-reasoned and fair-minded conclusions.  And so on.  The character of these men could hardly seem any more different.

So let the Bush comparisons be, Clintonites — it’s a bad argument, and when the GOP  latch onto that in the general, particularly against McCain, Barack won’t then be able to say, “Yeah, but I’m not retarded like Bush,” which he’s more apt to get away with in the primaries.


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