Sunday, August 31, 2008

Experience: Palin and Obama

Before you get riled up, this isn't about whether either candidate is "experienced enough" to sit as President of the United States. That's a long argument that I personally don't want to get into on this blog at the moment. Suffice to say that I do in fact believe that Obama does not yet have the experience necessary to be the leader of the free world, and neither does Palin.

What I am concerned about, though, are Republicans and other McCain-supporters suggesting that Palin's "executive experience" should count for more than Obama's time in Congress. The idea is that executive decision-making is ultimately completely different from legislative decision making, and therefore Palin's experience is more relevant than Obama's.

But is this neccessarily the case?

Don't get me wrong: I would prefer a President to have experience as an executive. That's part of the reason why I supported Mitt Romney in the Republican primaries (though Republicans seemed to prefer McCain instead for some reason!)

Sarah Palin's executive experience, though, is very limited. Her only relevant experience is the governorship of Alaska, but how relevant is that to the United States as a whole?

Let's consider the economy:
The oil and gas industry dominates the Alaskan economy, with more than 80% of the state's revenues derived from petroleum extraction.

Now, let's stop right there. 80% of revenues derived from oil? Alaska's economy more closely resembles a Middle Eastern nation than the United States of America. The lack of diversification makes me wonder how much experience Palin actually has in resolving the various disputes and economic difficulties that the President is going to face.

So, on a major issue (economics) her experience might not be all that relevant.

And what about her foreign policy experience?
Well...uhh...we have no idea if she even has any.

Now contrast this with Barack Obama. While true that he hasn't been directly responsible for the well-being of the entire nation, he has been working in Washington, meaning he has spent the last four years looking at the problems America as a whole is facing directly in the face. So, in fact, he does have some experience with national issues.

Also difficult to gauge is how much wheeling-and-dealing he is doing behind the scenes. Politics is a give-and-take game, relying on compromise, motivating others, and even threatening dissident politicians. In that sense, he also has some experience in negotiating a bureaucracy.

That's two bits of experience that do...sort of qualify Obama to be President. Governor Palin, on the other hand, only has experience with a specialized economy on the fringes of the nation, with no experience in foreign affairs at all.

It's pretty clear who's the winner there, "executive experience" or not.

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