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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The presidency: What value experience?

Nicholas Kristof examines the history of experience in presidential candidates and their resulting presidencies. He concludes that those who put experience first may get what they wish for. A few excerpts:
Consider another presidential candidate who was far more of a novice. He had the gall to run for president even though he had served a single undistinguished term in the House of Representatives, before being hounded back to his district.

That was Abraham Lincoln.
Kristof goes on to conclude that...
It might seem obvious that long service in Washington is the best preparation for the White House, but on the contrary, one lesson of American history is that length of experience in national politics is an extremely poor predictor of presidential success.
Then there's the kicker - what it might mean if we take experience too seriously:
To put it another way, think which politician is most experienced today in the classic sense, and thus — according to the “experience” camp — best qualified to become the next president.

That’s Dick Cheney. And I rest my case.

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