The Silly Argument about Executive Experience

Thankfully the Republican National Convention is officially behind us now.  Looking back, I was trying to determine what about the convention irked me the most.  Sure, Sarah Palin’s acceptance speech is an easy choice, but that was just one speech on one night.  I think what really bothered me about the Republicans was the army of hypocrites in black suits claiming that Barack Obama is unfit to be President because he lacks “executive experience”.  Sarah Palin, it seems is  fully qualified because she is a governor.  It apparently doesn’t matter if you’re a governor for 2 days or 20 years, once you get that title, you’re gold.

We heard eccentric speeches on this subject from the likes of Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Tom Ridge, Lindsey Grahm, and even Joe Lieberman.    When I scout out various other blogs related to the election, I see the same argument from right-wingers.  “Obama is just an empty suit.   Palin has more executive experiece than Obama and Biden combined!” is a typical post that I often see.  Excuse me, but doesn’t your candidate also fit into that group?  Gotta love the hypocrisy.  If you can say one thing about the Republicans, they sure are consistent.

This argument about needing executive experience, or that being a Governor makes you better qualified to be President is silly.  While I will admit that there are some components to being the executive of a state that mimic the responsibilities of the President (like balancing or not balancing a budget), it’s the judgement that the candidate possesses that makes the difference.  Look no further than our current President for an example of what bad judgement from a former governor looks like. 

From a historical perspective, I wanted to see how many former Presidents were previously governors and how many were senators to see if there really is something in being a chief executive as opposed to a legislator.   Of the 43 Presidents, only 16 were previously governors of their state.  Of those same 43 Presidents, 15 were previously U.S. senators.  Given that it is guarenteed that a U.S. senator will win the presidency this year, that will mean that there will be an equal number of Presidents who were governors as opposed to senators.  In some cases, the individual served as both a governor and a senator.

Now some of these former senators turned President have made some tough foreign policy decisions – a quality that many Obama critics feel is his weakness.  Harry Truman dropped the A-bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and of course John F. Kennedy had that whole Bay of Pigs thing.    Both of those men were Democrats I might add.

If you think that Obama wouldn’t make a good President because you don’t like his policy positions, that’s fine.  But don’t insult us by telling us he’s unfit because he lacks executive experience – not when history shows otherwise.

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