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Wanted: US President, No Experience Required

July 3rd, 2008 | by Omnipotent Poobah |

Presidential Podium

Chances are you got your job at least partially by displaying some sort of experience doing it. The experience could come from almost anywhere. You might have been doing the same thing for years with another company. You may have attended a technical college, gotten a university degree, or volunteered for a job that conveniently grew into a full-time marriage of likable hobby and money-making enterprise. But what’s the role of “experience” for a job where direct experience is one of the rarest commodities on the planet?

How does one get experience as the President of the United States?

This is an argument in almost every presidential election. Governors may be OK for domestic policy, but what about foreign relations experience? Senators and congresspeople are assessed on whether they sit on big, important committees. Corporate types can manage their asses off, but working with a peevish Congress is tougher than a hand-selected board of directors - and, it doesn’t pay nearly as well. Various advisers and political hacks sometimes get a shot, but they may enjoy political blood sport a little too much and are reluctant limit themselves to the plausible deniability presidents must maintain.

The ‘E’ Word
The latest dust-ups come from both sides of the spectrum. In the “war hero” category, Silver Star-decorated John Kerry spent more time defending himself than campaigning, while Bush’s lackluster service in the Air National Guard didn’t seem to matter when it came to his performance.

Civilians don’t hesitate to throw the “E” word around either. Hillary, and now McCain, ding Obama for having a short political career while Hillary submits her First Lady stint as solid experience and John McCain reminds everyone he’s been sitting in the Senate almost since Robert Byrd was a pup. Now, Wesley Clark makes the point that McCain’s dreadful treatment in Viet Nam is no training ground for those infamous 3 am phone calls.

Looking at past presidential success doesn’t tell us much either. Lincoln was a country lawyer and somewhat green politician before taking the reins of a war-torn country. It’s unlikely Truman drew on his experience as a National Guard private and failed haberdasher to drop the Big One on Japan. Ronald Reagan was a non-combatant army man, movie star, and governor before becoming Commander-in-Chief. And many believe Woodrow Wilson’s First Lady, Edith, was a “shadow President’ after Wilson was stricken with a stroke. Eisenhower was a general, but only a middling president and Carter was a mover and shaker in the Navy’s nuclear submarine force and governor before he started wearing cardigans by the fire.

Drilling Empty Holes in Texas
Our current president had no real experience beyond being a governor, drilling empty holes in the Texas landscape, chasing chicks, and drinking his way through college. But aside from “baseboll” being “berry, berry goood to him” he hasn’t done much good, at least according to 75% of his citizens.

Having hired more than a few people, I have a theory that holds pretty well - experience doesn’t necessarily indicate success. Resumes can be fudged, good references recruited, and some people will interview well, but can’t do the job worth spit. Some of my best hires were the ones with less than stellar resumes, little experience, and no formal training. But, they made up for it with innate intelligence, hard work, and the ability to listen, learn, and act. Talent trumps “experience” in my book. The best people use experience to help with details while other, less talented people simply fill a chair for theirs.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather follow a leader with some level-headed potential than one who spouts the c-word when he’s ticked or one whose chief accomplishment was wrestling a pretzel to the ground before he choked on it.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

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  1. One Response to “Wanted: US President, No Experience Required”

  2. By Mateo Giovanni on Jul 3, 2008 | Reply

    Who makes a good, or the model after which all President’s should be modeled is the Nobel Peace Prize winning Jimmy Carter……….HE was stuck cleaning up over a decade of Neo-Con crap, and then set the Neo-Cons up again with Reagan’s somewhat success. Funny Cheney was in the all the above Neo-Con’s services???

    Peace and Freedom

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