12 September 2008

143 Days

I've heard the charge that Barack Obama is unfit to be President of the United States because he served only 143 days in the Senate prior to announcing his candidacy. For some this should preclude him from consideration.
Never mind that the Founders saw fit only to set citizenship and attaining 35 years of age as their only requirements (or that there hasn't been a move to modify the requirements in 219 years). Would these critics feel any differently about Obama had he, say, 500 days of Senate experience? 250? Or is 300 more like it? I'm thinking no.

He was a community organizer (which I still don't know exactly what that is, or if society even needs them, but whatever); he did attend one of the finest law schools in the world, graduating magna cum laude; he did edit the Harvard Law Review (sadly, he hasn't published any law review articles, which is a shame for those who would like to know the substance to his stances and odd considering that he:); taught Constitutional Law at one of the other finest Law Schools in the world; he did have a private practice as an attorney and was a state legislator. He did not emerge from the womb and alight straight to the Senate for his 143 days.

The most "experienced" President we had was James Buchanan (House of Representatives, 1814-1831; Senate, 1834-1845; minister to Russia; minister to Great Britain; nominated for and refused a seat on the Supreme Court, 1844; Secretary of State in Polk Administration, 1845-1849; President (15), 1857-1861). He was also, arguably, the worst (ranked DFL in Presidential Leadership among other rankings).
He was succeeded, of course, by one of the least experienced men to take the helm and one of the greatest ever to do so, Abraham Lincoln. Buchanan said to Lincoln on the latter's inauguration, "My dear sir, if you are as happy on entering the White House as I am on leaving, you are a very happy man indeed."

Now, I don't think Obama is the next Lincoln (and certainly not the next Jesus, as some would have it). But before making a big deal about something, it might help to know what you're talking about. If some other quanta were necessary to being president the Founders would have included them. If anyone feels strongly enough about it now, propose an amendment to the Constitution adding them. Otherwise, it's a non-issue.

I'm not going to vote for him and I don't like many of the policies he's espoused, but this is nonsense and deserves to be called such.

So from the top: natural citizen and >35 years old=qualified. More electoral votes than competition=win.

N.B.--Nor do I think it is wise to denigrate Sarah Palin (as noted here) on her experience. Regardless of the size, she has been elected to serve two separate executive posts. It an't nothin'.


Claudio said...

I think that because a person fits the prerequisites to be president/vice president it doesn't mean they are qualified to be one. It is up to the voters to decide and therefore a relevant question to be raised about each of them. I think he is qualified. I don't know if she is or not. As far as the community organizer, in this case it means a person who graduated from a law school and decided to attempt to empower an under served and economically depressed community rather than make million$ on wallstreet. In other words, he was one of the "Thousand Points of Light" that guy was talking about. To ridicule him (I'm not suggesting you are) for doing exactly what our "leaders" have been seeming encouraging for so long is base, disingenuous and wrong.

SeanEBoy said...

My original point is that people were using the "143 days" in Obama's case and "small-town mayor" in Palin's case as evidence that they are unqualified. Some of the idiot talkers on the radio were saying explicity Obama isn't qualified.
Now if you don't think his or her life and prfessional experiences are suitable to the job, that's another matter entirely. But that's personal preference best left to the electorate.
Then what would the yakkers have to talk about? I don't know or care. If they stopped, so much the better.
Now there is much more I don't know about this subject than I know, so let me just put that right out there. But from the little I do know, one of Obama's chief influences is Saul Alinsky and his "Rules for Radicals." If that's the case, then I don't like it. I'll go into detail elsewhere later.
If it's Boy Scout level do-goodery that is limited to setting up a table and giving information to people about their rights and available services or helping people register to vote and otherwise showing a good role-model to the disenchanted and stuff like that, then good for him. That is admirable. I just don't know what, exactly, he did.
Also, I don't know of any distinguishing characteristics that Palin has, for good or ill.
McCain and Biden are pretty familiar. Biden biggest strikes are his horrendous showings predidential primaries and the plagiarism bit. I know it was a long time ago, but it wasn't just a sentence or so that he failed to attribute--bad enough in my book--he lifted the better part of an entire paragraph.
Does this disqualify him? In my opinion, no. But all things being equal between him and McCain (the only two we really know about), I'm with McCain.