Are You Experienced? Palin and Obama. A Comparison.Y’all, circumstances have induced me to put my hand in the toilet. Now I'm posting about politics.
I'm so disappointed in myself. :( So...
Recently (and especially tonight) there'll be a lot of voices saying the Republican Vice-Presidential nominee has more relevant experience than the Democratic Presidential nominee regarding the executive offices they seek. Is this true? I wouldn't have thought so, but I've been very wrong about so many things that I realized I should spend some time trying to diminish my ignorance.
(I know it might seem that discussing Obama's experience in the context of Palin's is false equivalency. But a lot of people out there really think their qualifications for executive office are nearly equal. They're not crazy, they're putting forth some effort here, so it seems worth a second to see what this is about.)
The debate about who has more experience has included checklists. I started to cobble one together. It definitely could use some improvement...it's just a start.
|Barack Obama||Sarah Palin|
(left Trinity United Church of Christ after condeming his pastor's inflammatory rhetoric, might now worship at Apostolic Church of God)
(attends Juneau Christian Center, grew up attending Wasilla Assembly of God)
|Current job||Senator of Illinois||Governor of Alaska|
|Previous jobs||Director of the Developing Communities Project in Chicago (1985-1988); |
Summer law associate at Sidley & Austin (1989);
Summer law associate at Hopkins & Sutter (1990);
Director of Illinois Project Vote (1992);
Associate at Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland (1993-1996);
Lecturer at University of Chicago Law School (1992-1996);
Senior Lecturer at University of Chicago Law School (1996-2004);
Illinois State Senator (1997-2004)
|Sports Reporter for KTUU-TV in Anchorage (?-1988); |
City Council member of Wasilla, AK (1992-1996);
Mayor of Wasilla, AK (1996-2002)
|Foreign policy experience||Has limited congressional work in foreign policy... He sponsored or introduced several bills with foreign policy implications, including:|
109 S. 2125 - the Democratic Republic of the Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act of 2005;
110 S. 433 - the Iraq War De-Escalation Act of 2007;
110 S.CON.RES. 25 - Condemning the recent violent actions of the Government of Zimbabwe against peaceful opposition party activists and members of civil society;
110S. 1430 - Iran Sanctions Enabling Act;
--- and he's held an assignment on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during which he made official trips to Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa
-- and he became Chairman of the Senate's subcommittee on European Affairs, but this barely counts since he hasn't yet called it into session. (It's been stagnant a year!)
|Almost none... though she is the Commander in Chief of the Alaska National Guard. But according to Major General Craig E. Campbell, immediate commander of the Alaska National Guard, she hasn't yet played a role in any defense activities relating to the Guard but that she's "extremely responsive and smart" and in charge when it comes to in-state services, such as emergencies and natural disasters where the National Guard is the first responder... [Associate Press cite]|
|Domestic policy experience||Experienced.|
Reformed ethics and health care laws in Chicago's South Side.
Increased tax credits for low-income voters.
Helped reform Chicago welfare.
Promoted city-wide childcare subsidies.
Supported loan reform before the mortgage meltdown.
He was Chairman of the Illinois Senate's Health and Human Services Committee.
Helped enact death penalty reforms for Illinois.
Sponsored 131 bills since 2005 and has co-sponsored 619 bills during that time.
In charge of the Wasilla Police Department and Public Works.
Cut her own salary while cutting property taxes.
Secured $27 million in earmarked funds for Wasilla.
Chaired the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. (Resigned in protest over the ethics violations of colleagues.)
Helped pass a tax increase on oil company profits.
Signed into law the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act (AGIA).
Signed into law a $6.6 billion operating budget for Alaska. The largest in that state's history.
|Military experience||Never served.||Never served.|
(But her son is in an infantry brigade in the Army. And, as mentioned above, she is nominally the Commander in Chief of the Alaska National Guard despite not doing any commanding yet.)
|Education||College degree, law degree, and college professor and lecturer.|
Occidental college (1979-1981).
Columbia University, B.A. in political science with a specialization in international relations (1981-1983).
Harvard Law, J.D. and he graduated magna cum laude (1988-1991). While there he was President of the Harvard Law Review (1990).
Taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School for twelve years (1992-2004).
University of Idaho, degree in journalism, minor in political science (1987). (Previously attended Hawaii Pacific College for a semester and transferred in from North Idaho College.)
|Hobbies||Basketball, teaching law, community service, writing (he published a memoir 3 years ago - cheeky!).||Hunting (she's a lifetime member of the NRA), ice fishing, riding snowmobiles, she's also run a marathon and owns a floatplane. (I'm very jealous of the floatplane. Wicked awesome.)|
I started with the following premises. I intended them to be non-partisan, however I'm sure a bias has crept in here or there. I'm often a lazy thinker. I've been assuming that...
Sarah Palin has demonstrated that she can face management crises. To many, this is obvious. Just helping to raise five children (I assume Todd helps as well) is an amazing and inspiring feat of management, especially given that Mrs. Palin faced sexism in her professional life despite her talents, and given that one of her sons, Trig, is developmentally disabled. It is churlish and petty to argue that balancing motherhood and professional responsibilities as a public servant is a somehow meager task. How can we dismiss this honestly when viewing Ms. Palin's qualifications? You may disagree with some of her decisions, but she is definitely accomplished at being Governor and being a mother of a large family - which can suggest she has amazing personal discipline and that she could also possibly be excellent at managing other things.Both candidates seem to possess character traits suited to executive management based on the available evidence: they both can manage their time, their emotions, their employees, and their ambition. They both clearly have experience in delegating tasks and power. They both can argue and hold their own in political debates within government. They are both charismatic and attractive.
Barack Obama has also demonstrated that he can face management crises. To many, this is obvious. Just studying for and passing the state bar, becoming a professor, guiding students on complex issues of law, volunteering for community service, introducing and supporting national legislation, helping raise two children (I assume Michelle helps as well) while running successive state and national campaigns is an amazing feat of management, especially given that he also had to face racism on many occasions. It is churlish and petty to argue that balancing fatherhood, academia, and professional responsibilities as a public servant is a somehow meager task. How can we dismiss this honestly when viewing Mr. Obama's qualifications? You may disagree with some of his decisions, but he is definitely accomplished as a student, a lawyer, a professor, a Senator, a presidential campaigner, and a father - which can suggest he has amazing personal discipline and that he could also possibly be excellent at managing other things.
But there's this non-subtle difference in their pursuit of knowedge - I mean look at all that time Barack completely wasted (they might assume) in studying the law and in school and teaching advanced courses at the University of Chicago. What was that about?
This is the part where I get confused. Are we really doing this again as a country? Y'know, skimming the experience of people with advanced degrees and lifelong interests in academic study and snickering "they think they're so mighty pants" while concluding, well, their education is probably not important? Are we still highlighting skills in management and delegation while downplaying the totally different accomplishments of critical analysis and thinking?
The management experience is helpful stuff, but there's this difference that's compelling to me. Barack has had his ability to analyze critically rigorously tested and challenged for decades.
This isn't a subtle difference, is it? Really? Is experience in middle management all we're striving for in our potential Presidents? C'mon, everyone. Let's let some better light shine here.
To me the debate about experience weighs toward Mr. Obama not because Mrs. Palin is somehow incompetent (this is false and unfair) but because Mr. Obama has great (and greater) breadth and competency.
Just musing about political experience. Arguments about policy differences between them can go over there - you know - right over there, next door, on the many thousands of websites devoted to those arguments. That's not what this post was about. Don't argue about that shit here. I mean it.