Presidential Experiences & Comparisons
Hillary is JFK or Harry Truman. Obama is Abe Lincoln. John McCain is...Gerald Ford? WTF? That's the conclusion of a post on Madison.com. This is how the poster sums up the careers of our three finalists:
Hillary Rodham Clinton was an attorney for 17 years, focusing on child advocacy. She also was a law professor for two years and served on several boards with a child advocacy mission. As first lady of Arkansas for 12 years, she had exposure to issues affecting state and local governments and focused on rural health and reform of the state's educational system. She also served as a board member for Wal-Mart during this time. Her eight years as first lady for the United States took her to 79 countries and put her in charge of a major health care initiative. She has been a U.S. senator for seven years and served on the following committees: Armed Services; Environment & Public Works; Health, Education, Labor & Pensions, and Special Committee on Aging. Because her experiences as first lady are unique, it's hard to compare her to past presidents. She comes closest to Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy.
First, Hillary Clinton did not focus on child advocacy for 17 years. She worked at the Children's Defense Fund for less than a year, and then spent the rest of her career in corporate law. Also, she "had exposure to issues"? That's a rather vague term that I take to mean that she was married to Bill Clinton (in which case those issues weren't the only things she was exposed to - know what I'm saying?). Hillary's experience can actually be summed up like this: she was a lawyer, was married to a Governor and President and was in the Senate. By contrast, JFK was a playboy, PT boat commander and served in the House and Senate. Harry Truman served in WWI, was a county judge, a Senator and a Vice President. How do these experiences mirror those of Hillary? I don't see it - unless the sympathetic poster simply wants to compare Clinton to positive Democratic icons. (Ding! Ding!).
Not surprisingly, the author takes the same tack with Barack Obama:
Senator Barack Obama was a community organizer in Chicago for three years, a civil rights attorney for four years and taught Constitutional Law at The University of Chicago for ten years. He served eight years in the Illinois State Senate and three years in the United States Senate. In the Illinois legislature he chaired the Health and Human Services Committee and successfully passed legislation regarding death penalty reform, videotaping of interrogations, ethics, welfare reform, and health care. In the United States Senate his committee assignments include Foreign Relations; Veterans Affairs; Health, Education, Labor & Pensions; Homeland Security; and Government Affairs. Like Senator Clinton, he has a long history of working in the law profession and has a legislative career giving him broad exposure to a number of foreign and domestic issues. A comparison to presidents over history shows that his experience is almost an exact match to Abraham Lincoln, who spent most of his career practicing law, with eight years in the Illinois legislature and three years in Congress.
An exact match to Lincoln, eh? While Obama was matriculating at Harvard, Lincoln's formal education lasted a whopping 18 months. Lincoln served in the Black Hawk War and ran a small store and then taught himself the law. Lincoln had a 23-year legal career in Illinois and was involved in more than 5,000 cases. Unlike Obama's focus on constitutional law, Lincoln was a major player in transportation law. Finally, while Obama sailed through to the Senate, Lincoln was involved in a famous campaign against Stephen A. Douglas. Basically, the difference between Obama and Lincoln is that Obama has had the luxury of pretty thoughts and speeches while Lincoln actually had to spend his life doing things. It's the contrast between the pragmatist and the dreamer.
Finally, as one would expect by this point, the writer finds a poor comparison for the Republican candidate:
Senator John McCain was in the U.S. Navy from 1958 to 1981, including seven years as a POW in Hanoi. Before becoming a POW in 1967, he was a pilot. After his release he briefly commanded a training squadron. From 1977 to 1981 he served as the Navy's liaison with the Senate, which was his introduction to politics. He was elected to Congress in 1982 and moved to the Senate in 1986. He has been in the Senate for the past 22 years. His committee assignments are: Armed Services, Commerce, and Indian Affairs. His career has given him a great depth of experience in military affairs, as well as issues covered by the Commerce and Indian Affairs Committees, but his breadth of experience is only to the extent needed to vote on legislation. The best comparison in experience is Gerald Ford, who had a distinguished military career and went immediately to Congress, where he remained for 24 years. (Ford, had additional experience, though as Vice President and House Minority Leader).
Like Ford, McCain is a career politician. However, it's hard to imagine that the defining experience of McCain's life is anything other than his seven years as a POW, an experience he doesn't share with Ford. Likewise, Gerald Ford's life is one filled with team experiences - he was a star athlete, a coach, a consensus builder in Congress. By contrast, McCain was a navy brat and a boxer he spent two years in solitary confinement in Vietnam. McCain's not called just a maverick because of his political stances - he's a maverick and a lone wolf because that's who he is to the core of his being. I'm not saying he'll be a better President than Ford, but I am most certainly saying that he would come into the job with a vastly different life behind him than Ford.
I get that this poster simply wants to make a case that both Clinton and Obama have "enough" experience for the Presidency. She's right. They do. What they're lacking isn't experience. It's right ideas.
Posted by at April 18, 2008 03:23 PM
The trackback entry for this page is : http://www.inthehat.com/mt/mt-tb.cgi/1642
|# April 18th, 2008 4:12 PM themandownthehall|
|I'd argue that none of three of them are qualified. The founding fathers would be firing up the muskets again at what we have here. 3 career politicos. Yeah, Hillary was a lawyer, but not in "reality".
The only one I thought qualified by the standards that the founders wanted was Romney. Someone who came primarily from the private sector and would return to it having to live under the laws he signed.
None of the 3 have had to live under the common man's laws and none of them will after they leave office.