Published July 27, 2008
Which jobs are there where experience is not beneficial? Would you prefer an inexperienced plumber, electrician, physician, attorney, airline pilot, or school bus driver over one whom is experienced? Some unskilled entry level positions may only require some initial modest instruction before an employee is able to adequately perform their duties.
But what about the Commander-in -Chief of all of the Armed Forces of the United States? Is that position so trivial that experience doesn’t matter? The duties of our Head-of-State include foreign relations, negotiating treaties regarding national security and trade. Indeed, no other American official has the immense and powerful responsibilities regarding foreign policy than the President. The impact on domestic policy is limited to signing or vetoing bills passed by congress, or issuing executive orders. This power is a weak one, as demonstrated in the case Youngstown Sheet and Tube v. Sawyer".
The next four years will surely be eventful. Iran is thought to be two years away from nuclear capability. The choice for the 44th President appears to be either war with Iran or a nuclear armed terrorist state. Can we go another eight years without another 9-11-01?, and if not, how will it be dealt with by our Commander-in- Chief? How will the Al-Qaeda populated regions of western Pakistan be managed, or North Korea, or Sudan?
What types of experience prepares one to execute the duties of this land's highest office effectively from day one? I would suggest the following in descending order of importance: Executive, Military, Legislative, Judicial, and Commerce. The Chief Executive would benefit from executive experience, as the Commander-in-Chief would benefit from military experience. Legislative experience may assist decisions on which bills to sign or veto, and judicial experience may assist decisions on appointing proper judges. Finally, real-world, hands-on experience balancing books and managing people is great training for the boss of every Federal government employee. There are certainly examples of Presidents who have had exceptional prior experience but have led disappointing terms, such as Ohioan U.S. Grant (military, commerce experience) or J.E. Carter (military, executive). The opposite is also true, with lesser prior experienced Presidents having successful terms, such as C.A. Arthur (executive, commerce). I believe that judgment ultimately determined the fates of their terms. However, looking back at our forty-three Presidents, experience has proven to matter. I am glad we had a WW2 hero as Commander-in-Chief during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, as well as during Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. Also, the President from Niles, Ohio exercised the proper restraint before the Spanish-American War due to his Civil War combat experience.
We are all now faced with two major candidates produced by a flawed electoral system from which to choose. Neither are the best that either party has to offer, and certainly not the best that America has to offer. Approximately eighty percent of us will vote with our parties, and the remainder will consider (hopefully) the candidates qualifications and judgment.
Setting judgment aside for now, neither candidate has any real business, judicial, or executive experience. Both have Federal legislative experience (3.5 years vs. 26 years), and only one has military experience. What's startling is the paucity of experience, compared to other Presidents, that the Illinois junior Senator has.
Help me out. I can't find anyone with less experience than Obama who has previously been President, and I've looked. Specifically, can you find anyone with no executive, military, judicial or business/commerce experience, and only a partial U.S. Senate term who has served the Nation's highest office before?