September 02, 2008

Qualified

The issue of who is "qualified" for holding nationwide executive office has come up a lot in this election cycle. John McCain asserts that Barack Obama doesn't have enough experience to be qualified for being president. Various democrats, internet folks, and even a few Republicans argue that Sarah Palin doesn't have enough experience, or perhaps not the "right" experience to be Vice President.

Dictionary.com has several definitions for "qualified," but I like looking at the synonyms better: "able, capable, competent, fitted." The focus isn't on having done anything specific or having any one specific quality, but on being in a position to perform whatever the function is being asked of you with competence. When interviewing for a job, sometimes the successful candidate has extensive experience in the field. Sometimes the successful candidate is a young up-and-comer with interesting new ideas.

I think history has shown pretty well that a long political resume doesn't necessarily equal a good President and being a Washington "outsider" doesn't either. John McCain, with his 30 years in the Senate, is plainly "qualified" to be President. So is Barack Obama, with his four years in the Senate, several in the Illinois state legislature, and his sweeping and exciting plans for reforming the country. Sarah Palin, I don't think, is qualified, or at the very least her qualifications are questionable. 22 months as a governor in a small state which receives incredibly huge amounts of federal largess is not very impressive. Unfortunately for her, she also doesn't, at least not that I've seen, bring much new to the table either politically or charismatically. Does she bring several politically useful features to McCain's campaign? Obviously. Is she qualified to be Vice President or, if something should happen to John McCain, President? I just don't think she is. She may have been a hot Republican prospect for four or eight years, but they pulled her from the farm club too soon and it may destroy her prospects.

2 comments:

Drew said...

I agree with you completely. But in practice, the only real test of a candidates qualifications comes on election day. Her lack of qualifications strikes me as a perfectly legitimate reason to vote against John McCain. But then, I don't need another reason. And people who are inclined to vote for McCain won't let her lack of qualifications stop them. I don't blame them, neither would I.

So I'm not sure the qualifications issue really matters. Except insofar as it a) eviscerates what has been thus far the central theme of the McCain campaign, and b) reflects poorly on the judgment of John McCain.

MosBen said...

What's driving me crazy is this idea that Palin's "executive experience" is somehow better than legislative experience, bar none. To see Republicans actually make arguments against Obama which apply equally well to McCain makes my head spin.

But yes, I think the takeaway point is that "having done something" is important in starting your campaign but the ultimate qualification is in an ability to convince people to elect you.