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Newsweek-"Are You Experienced? Why a U.S. senator might not trump a state legislator"

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Psst_Im_Not_Here Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-23-08 06:42 PM
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Newsweek-"Are You Experienced? Why a U.S. senator might not trump a state legislator"
Are You Experienced?
Why a U.S. senator might not trump a state legislator


By Alan Ehrenhalt | Special Guest Columnist
Jun 23, 2008 | Updated: 10:51 a.m. ET Jun 23, 2008

We are in the opening days of a presidential campaign that pits youth against age, the virtues of experience against the freshness and riskiness of the new arrival.

I'm not here to refute all of that: John McCain is 25 years older than Barack Obama, and he always will be. But here's something I bet you didn't know: If Obama becomes president, he will have spent more time serving as a state legislator (eight years) than anyone who has occupied the White House since Abraham Lincoln.

You're thinking that's kind of irrelevant. John McCain has been a member of the U.S. Senate since 1986; do I really mean to suggest that Obama's eight years in the Illinois Senate (not the most august deliberative body, as anyone who has seen it will attest) provide the same preparation for the presidency? Well, not exactly. But looking back on quite a few years covering Congress, and an almost equal number of years following legislatures, I'm drawn to some slightly curmudgeonly comments about what it is that U.S. senators do, and what it is that state legislators do.

Twenty-first century U.S. senators are, virtually by the nature of the job, gadflies. They flit from one issue to another, generally developing little expertise on any of them; devote a large portion of their day to press conferences and other publicity opportunities; follow a daily schedule printed on a 3x5 card that a member of their staff has prepared; depend even more heavily on staff for detailed and time-consuming legislative negotiation that they are too busy to attend; and develop few close relationships with colleagues, nearly all of whom are as busy as they are. There are exceptions, of coursesenators who beat the odds and develop an encyclopedic knowledge of topics that interest thembut they are the minority. I don't doubt McCain's instinct for global strategy, but a few months ago, when he had to be corrected on his statement that Iran was training Al Qaeda operatives, I wasn't surprised at all. I'm surprised this doesn't happen to senators more often.

More at link: Newsweek-"Are You Experienced? Why a U.S. senator might not trump a state legislator"
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loyalsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-23-08 07:08 PM
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1. Good article
It's a shame that the"experience" meme was exploited so heavily in the primary. As the articles points out, state legislators who do their jobs work very hard.
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Psst_Im_Not_Here Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-23-08 07:14 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. I thought so too
Perfect argument against the "no experience" meme. I never did understand that claim.
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mopinko Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-23-08 08:53 PM
Response to Reply #2
6. simple-
look at opponent, look at self, exploit any difference, whether it is relevant or even real. aka, proganda.
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Psst_Im_Not_Here Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-23-08 09:44 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. I guess by not understanding, I meant
that people bought it and that the push back from the campaign wasn't stronger. But, of course it will come up again and maybe this time the push put it to rest. Hey there's always hope, right?
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mopinko Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-23-08 10:30 PM
Response to Reply #8
10. hope is the name of the game.
i hate to say what comes next, but....
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loyalsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-24-08 02:47 AM
Response to Reply #2
13. I don't think it's going to work
Not in the least Hillary Clinton is going to campaign with him and she is going to talk about his strengths in new ways. She will help him considerably.
Aside from that, Obama is an amazing campaigner.
Reading Dreams From My Father has been a real eye opener. One of the reasons people underestimate Obama is that he is very interested and very cautious and actually sincerely cares about knowing what makes a person tick.
He draws careful comparison between people he meets and the people he has known before. He has met John McCain. John McCain taught him how to box and told him he should not give money to beggars. He also understands why he sold out. It was his stepfather.
He knows him like the back of his hand. He knows how to beat him at boxing and in any argument.
His life experience is discounted has been unfairly and unreasonably diminished. The community organizing that he did was executive experience, and it required a commitment and creativity that very few people can muster.
I think there are going to be ways to avoid that hit, however. I expect they reserved the best argument for the GE to avoid any redundancy.
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blondeatlast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-23-08 07:20 PM
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3. Great article. State legislature sessions can be absolutely brutal
and state legis have to deal much more directly with their constituencies. Pissed off? They won't risk NOT seeing you, in many cases!
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loyalsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-24-08 02:26 AM
Response to Reply #3
12. Not only that they live next door to you
Down the street and shop in the same grocery store. No escape. Obama's head is still there. He has also tried to maintain a physical presense in Illinois.
He talks about being held accountable.
He has not had the armored distance of a protective staff long enough for it to have gotten into his head so much that it is habit.
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Spazito Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-23-08 07:23 PM
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4. Very good article, imo
It has always seemed to me that time spent in a state legislature should not be downplayed depending on what the candidate did while serving.

I tend, also, to agree with the writer's contention:

Twenty-first century U.S. senators are, virtually by the nature of the job, gadflies. They flit from one issue to another, generally developing little expertise on any of them; devote a large portion of their day to press conferences and other publicity opportunities; follow a daily schedule printed on a 3x5 card that a member of their staff has prepared; depend even more heavily on staff for detailed and time-consuming legislative negotiation that they are too busy to attend; and develop few close relationships with colleagues, nearly all of whom are as busy as they are."

The more "local" the politics, the more time one has to get hands-on experience, get a more in-depth understanding of the issues, imo.


Recommended.
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Psst_Im_Not_Here Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-23-08 08:13 PM
Response to Original message
5. Yep, might have to post it in my blog EOM
n/t
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Cha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-23-08 09:12 PM
Response to Original message
7. Good! I read this over in Editorials and Articles..
Edited on Mon Jun-23-08 09:13 PM by zidzi
<end snip>

"As for the fall campaign, I am not urging anyone to vote for Obama, or against McCain, on the issue of experience. What I am suggesting is that experience itself is a slippery commodity to measurethat there is no easy way to guess what sort of political career is ideal for a presidentand that we would all be better off just listening to what the candidates say and how they say it, and spending a little time looking into what sort of people they are."


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Psst_Im_Not_Here Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-24-08 11:00 AM
Response to Reply #7
14. I heard a quote somewhere
I can't remember who said it or where but it went something like this: "The only experience relevent to the office of president is being president. So claims of more experience in this or that is irrelevent."
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Median Democrat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-23-08 09:51 PM
Response to Original message
9. Oops, wrong thread!
Edited on Mon Jun-23-08 09:54 PM by Median Democrat
nm

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fortyfeetunder Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-24-08 12:01 AM
Response to Original message
11. Oh give me a break Newsweek!
Don't hype about "experience" -- Look at the mess of the last 7.5 years led by "experienced" people....

"Experience" is just mainstream "code" for "inadequate"....
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WinkyDink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-24-08 12:46 PM
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15. Because only Obama would get the allusion?
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