The Campaign Spot

A Lame Defense of Obama on ‘Experience’

I’m sure my colleague David Freddoso can defend himself against critics of his book, The Case Against Barack Obama.

But I saw this from John Wilson over at the Huffington Post and rolled my eyes.

Freddoso’s lies begin on the very first page of his book (repeated on the back cover) when he proclaims that Obama is “the least experienced politician in at least one hundred years to obtain a major party nomination for President….”(ix) Freddoso seems to be conveniently forgetting that George W. Bush in 2000 had served only six years as governor, far fewer years of experience as an elected public official than Obama’s 12 years of experience (eight as state senator, four as US senator).

Wilson goes on to argue that by virtue of his state legislative experience, Obama has spent more time as an elected public official than Ronald Reagan, Dwight Eisenhower, Harry Truman, and Woodrow Wilson.
Well, yes, it is a “lie” if you consider being in the state legislature to be serious training for the presidency. I would note that while Obama was in the legislature, he managed to hold two other jobs requiring not-insignificant time commitments, a private law practice and lecturing at the University of Chicago law school. As Obama himself noted, he passed ten bills in his first six years. His work in the state legislature was so thrilling and fulfilling that it took an entire four years before he took on the borderline-kamikaze-mission of trying to defeat four-term Rep. Bobby Rush in the Democratic primary for his seat in Congress. An explanation appears in Ryan Lizza’s profile in the New Yorker:

Almost as soon as he got to Springfield, he was planning another move. He was bored there—once, he appeared to doze off during a caucus meeting—and frustrated by the Republicans’ total control over the legislature.

(As for the comparison to George W. Bush, note that the current president had at least been reelected to statewide office when he ran in 2000. And he knocked off incumbent Ann Richards to win his office, not Alan Keyes.)
As for Obama’s experience in the U.S. Senate, he’s basically been campaigning for president since January 2007, and explained that was why he had held no hearings as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s subcommittee on European Affairs.
But you go ahead, and keep arguing that Obama’s experience is superior to that of Eisenhower, Truman, and Reagan.
(By this standard, I guess we will be hearing about how Tim Kaine’s four years as a member of the Richmond City Council were valuable experience in preparation for the vice-presidency.)


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