On One Hand

August 31, 2008

Obama vs. Palin on Experience

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 2:28 pm
Tags: ,

Republicans are defending John McCain’s absurd and audacious VP pick in Sarah Palin, 1.7 year governor of Alaska, by arguing that Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee, is less experienced than she.

John McCain, who will be the oldest first-term president at age 72, said that his first concern in choosing a vice president would be to find someone “qualified to step in as president,” which is how he fulfills his campiagn theme of putting his “country first.”

But is Sarah Palin really comparable to Barack Obama on experience?

When it comes to “experience,” life before politics matters too. You don’t count years spent in office as the only markers of experience necessary to run for president, otherwise the Constitution wouldn’t make age – and not previous office – one of the requirements. After all, John McCain repeatedly uses his time spent as a POW in Vietnam as make-up for everything he’s done wrong since then – out-of-office experience is perfectly relevant to him. Business and community leaders have used non-government background as qualifications for political office, using private careers as launching bids for a public campaign.

Thus it is not only enough to compare Barack Obama’s time spent in state or federal goverment (12 years in the Illinois legislature and U.S. senate) to Palin’s time spent in state government (1.7 years).

You can also count Barack Obama’s magna cum laude degree from Harvard and his tenure as president of the Harvard Law Review, the most prestigeous university law journal in the country, as indication of his mental fortitude and capabilities.

Sarah Palin graduated with a BA from the University of Idaho, which requires a 2.7 high school GPA to get in. I work as a political canvasser for a labor union and I am more educated than Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska.

You can count Barack Obama’s 12 years teaching constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School as experience and knowledge in the structure and function of the U.S. government. (Sarah Palin said she doesn’t know what a U.S. vice president does as recently as one month ago.)

You can count Barack Obama’s experience on the board of directors of six Chicago philanthropic organizations organized to protect civil liberties or decrease urban poverty between 1993 and 2000 as signs of his management capabilities.

Barack Obama spent nearly as much time running a quarter-billion dollar primary campaign – the most effecient and well-run political campaign in history – as Palin did as governor of Alaska.

You can count Barack Obama’s public voice in the debate leading up to the Iraq war in 2003, during which Barack Obama was a strong and informed voice with a clear and sharp grasp of the complicated ethnic politics of the Middle East. He was thinking about foreign policy and making correct predictions about the length and difficulty of a war in Iraq even when the President of the United States along with John McCain were wrongly insisting it would be a 100-day sweep and Americans would be greeted as liberators.

Is Barack Obama as qualified to be president as, say, Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton? This spring that was up for debate, with John McCain and the Republicans suggesting that Obama was not as good as his Democratic rivals. 18-million Democratic primary voters made the call after Obama’s spectacularly-organized primary campaign convinced them that the answer was YES, in light of all things, he shows promise of being every bit as capable as the other candidates.

But is Barack Obama weak on experience compared to Sarah Palin, 1/3 term governor of a state with a population to warrant ONE U.S. congressional district? (California has 53 districts, Illinois has 26.)

Barack Obama and Sarah Palin aren’t even in the same league. Shooting guns and eating mooseburgers might make Palin a compelling personality to balance McCain’s dullness, but they don’t fulfill John McCain’s first principle of going with experience over personality.

Barack Obama never insisted that number of years in office is all that counts – that was John McCain’s line. So much for that, now that he’s decided that the least-experienced governor in the United States should be the one in line to fill that role.

So what about “Country first?” McCain took an impulsive gamble on an inexperienced candidate in hopes that a game-scrambler would help his strugling bid, regardless of the scary implications. Is John McCain a “straight-talker” or a “maverick?” Not with a pander to ex-Hillary supporters like that one, HELLO GAS TAX HOLIDAY.

Shame on John McCain.



  1. about matt’s comment – 2.7 GPA to get in UI

    I believe Palin went to an “open enrollment” community college prior to transferring to UI. In other words, I don’t believe a 2.7 GPA was even a requirement. By the way, open enrollment means everyone gets accepted. I truly doubt what else she can do other than being a professional politician or perhaps a hunter.

    Comment by Anonymous — September 1, 2008 @ 4:50 am | Reply

    • Re: about matt’s comment – 2.7 GPA to get in UI

      I don’t want to automatically assume she’s stupid.

      But I secretly hope she’s stupid and it shows.

      The best thing Republicans have to say about her is that she’s charismatic and articulate. Well any B-list actress or celebrity is charismatic and articulate, too, and I haven’t seen anything to prove she’s above and behond them. Ryan Seacrest has what it takes to become governor of Alaska.

      Comment by ononehand — September 1, 2008 @ 6:24 am | Reply

  2. Minor nit-pick …

    Illinois only has 19 Congressional districts, not 26. Only three states have more than 26: California with 53 (as you mentioned), Texas with 32, and New York with 29.

    Comment by larrysphatpage — September 1, 2008 @ 9:12 am | Reply

  3. I don’t think a GPA is a total qualifier…or really tells much in the end about a potential candidate other than they might be a hard worker or plain smart. But in opinion Palins lack of experience, is just the length of her government service.

    Comment by bon_homme_dane — September 2, 2008 @ 4:23 am | Reply

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