All Experience Is Not Created Equal
In deference to Kaiser's Lament about the seemingly never ending tit for tat exchanges between the two campaigns on the issue of experience (or lack thereof), I was going to leave the issue alone. Really. I was.
But then Obama came out with this (un-TelePromTered) zinger glorifying his executive experience compared with that of Governor Sarah Palin during an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper:
Cooper: And Senator Obama, my final question, some of your Republican critics have said you don't have the experience to handle a situation like this. They've in fact said that Governor Palin has more executive experience as mayor of a small town and as governor of a big state of Alaska. What's your response?
Obama: Well, my understanding is that Governor Palin's town of Wasilla has I think 50 employees. We've got 2,500 in this campaign. I think their budget is maybe $12 million a year. You know, we have a budget of about three times that just for the month. So I think that our ability to manage large systems and to execute I think has been made clear over the last couple of years.
So, Obama's experience running for office trumps that of an actual elected official serving in the capacity of chief executive at both a local and state level. Now there's a take I haven't heard before.
First off, running a campaign holds little in comparison to running a municipality or a state for that matter. Campaigns have, by definition, finite life spans. On November 5th – win or lose - the Obama-Biden 2008 campaign will cease to exist. Smart campaign staffers will make sure their paychecks clear before that date. Caterers and other service providers would be wise to demand up front payment for services rendered – or they might end up on the short end of the stick like those owed money by Team Hillary. Municipalities, on the other hand, have to deal with issues more important than the size of the next big media buy.
Secondly, Obama's belittling of Palin's tenure as a small town mayor will probably backfire. The liberal legend House Speaker Tip O'Neill made famous the undeniable political truth that "all politics is local". To be blunt, local politics is all most Americans ever really deal with. Mayors, city council members, county supervisors and other local politicians are where the rubber meets the road. They fill the potholes, ensure the trash is collected, and deal with local zoning issues in addition to other mind numbing details that make the local municipality run. Effectively managing a city – even a small one – is much harder than it looks on paper and far more difficult than anything Obama has ever attempted.
And thirdly, Obama's answer to Cooper's question simply – and obviously – skips over Palin's tenure as governor of the great state of Alaska. As NRO's Byron York noted, Alaska has 15,000 employees and an operating budget of $11.2 billion. I'm not much of a numbers guy, but those figures dwarf anything Obama has ever held executive responsibility for. As far as I know, the last executive position Obama had was editor of the Harvard Law Review. Forgive me if I remain unimpressed.
And finally, in the spirit of "Now its time for something completely different", I direct your attention to Maureen Dowd of the New York Times Op-Ed page. Some time ago, the Times put their Op-Ed page behind a subscription wall – thus sparing the majority of the news reading public from having to endure the likes of Ms. Dowd. Having failed to garner enough subscription revenue to pay for a two-block cab ride the Times took down the wall and let Dowd out again.
Well, now her nose has become firmly out of joint over the Palin selection, and she has resorted to prose that – were it a man making the same statements about a woman – would get her remanded to the Op-Ed pages of the Weekly World News. Dowd has declared Palin to be the "Trophy Vice" and "Vice in Go-Go Boots".
Why, Ms Dowd, I do believe you are jealous! Then again, perhaps your concern is not without cause. Sarah Palin could pull off the Go-Go boots ensemble. You? I'm not so sure about.