Experience and Decision Making
Following on our satirical endorsement of McCain-Palin yesterday, I’d like to talk a little about the experience argument, that is, that Obama lacks the experience to be President.
This may well be true. I’d prefer someone with extensive executive experience, ideally running a state, experience matters in one very specific way: it may help you make better decisions. Having a wealth of experience may lead to the wisdom of age, or being a grouchy old person.
I see two key decisions that each candidate has had to make since the convention. One with time for reflection and consideration, and one snap decision. The first, of course, is their Vice President, and the second, how to react to the emergent financial crisis.
Let’s look at McCain’s decisions: Palin, and suspend the campaign. In each case, a honed political calculus was the experience McCain applied.
Palin is a great candidate: appealing to both the radical right and disaffected Hillary voters. A great speaker. The leader of America’s most socialist state, where each citizen gets $3,200 from the state, just for breathing. And she is so not qualified to be President, she’s a drag on the ticket. It was a great political gamble, and an awful one for a 72 year old cancer survivor to apply to the Presidency of the United States. Contrast with Obama, who chose an experienced foreign policy expert who had already run for President.
The choice to suspend the campaign was also brilliant politics. McCain, suffering from a self-imposed inability to raise funds, needed a dramatic response to the crisis. But he has no background in finance. No long experience regulating it. No seats on the relevant committees. And rather than letting the professionals do their jobs, McCain decided to grandstand. Contrast with Obama, who said “My strong feeling was that this situation was of such seriousness that it was important not to chase the cameras.”
So experience matters because it helps you make decisions in the framework of what’s important to you.
It seems that winning, not governing, is what’s important to John McCain.
On the other hand, Obama does lack experience. But it seems to me that he makes decisions well, and will continue to do so.