Monday, March 10, 2008

A question of experience

When they are not darkly alluding that Barack Obama is a terrorist sympathizer because of his middle name, they will attack him for his percieved lack of experience.

On that note, here is an interesting exercise on picking presidents based on experience:

Suppose you had to choose between two Presidential candidates, one of whom had spent 20 years in Congress plus had considerable other relevant experience and the other of whom had about half a dozen years in the Illinois state legislature and 2 years in Congress. Which one do you think would make a better President? If you chose #1, congratulations, you picked James Buchanan over Abraham Lincoln.

There are many other examples like that where you can persuade people to pick Warren G. Harding over Franklin Roosevelt; or Millard Fillmore over John Adams.

Clearly, “experience” is almost a random factor when it comes to determining the success of a president. One of the most galling things about Hillary’s “threshhold” argument for being commander-in-chief is that her own husband would never have passed the test the way she is using it today.

Some people will argue that having too much experience is actually bad. They will point out that most presidents fare more poorly during their second term after gaining experience than they do during their first term. I don’t necessarily buy that argument. I just think that experience by itself is overrated. What matters most is what you do with the experience you have and not just the simple fact that you have it.
Some people can do a great deal with very little experience while others do almost nothing with lots of experience.

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