Some Things We Don’t Throw the Book At

I missed this story from last week, but Dave Neiwert was on top of it, FBI Wanted Obama Plotters Charged, But A Rove Appointee Said No.

Isn't this sort of, well, serious?

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5 Responses to Some Things We Don’t Throw the Book At

  1. DonsBlog says:

    i’m just curious. No one seems to compare the years Obama studied law with Palin’s lack of experience with the same. After the amateur way the Justice dept. has been run under Bushco as well as absurdities like opinions on torture, wouldn’t actual knowledge of law and the constitution be important in a candidate?

    Both Obama and Biden have J.D.’s. You might say McCain has picked up experience along the way to make up for an unnamed degree from the Naval Academy. Palin? A BS in communications.

    I’d be curious of opinions from experts.

  2. Michael says:

    Well, naturally I think a law degree is very helpful for anyone in high office. But it’s hardly the only thing that helps. Lots of life experiences can be useful in different ways: service in the military, running a business, many other things.

    For my money, the most critical issue is breadth of political experience. I don’t think military or business experience, while useful and enriching, translates immediately to national politics. I’d be a lot happier about Wesley Clark, for example, if he had a stint as a senator for a few years. Ditto for the corporate exec of your choice. Governorships also have value — you get used to running something instead of being part of a herd — but the focus is sometimes very parochial compared to the national and international focus of the Senate. Some Governors get involved in things like the Council on Foreign Relations and various international groups in order to keep their horizons (and ambitions) broad; then-Gov. Clinton did that, for example. Many don’t — Gov. Palin, for example.

    And of course some people are so clueless that even though they have a good resume it doesn’t seem to have left a mark (the former Gov. of Texas comes to mind), while other people seem very thoughtful so that even if their national experience is relatively thin, they give a sense of being ready whether due to character or other life experiences (JFK, Obama).

    So I don’t have a law school litmus test, even though I do think it’s a very good thing. For me the issue is what is — or isn’t — in the whole package.

  3. Ha says:

    If Senators are so special, how come the pretty much never get elected President? I believe there’s only been two that went straight from the Senate to the Presidency (though maybe that’s just since 1900, I can’t remember).

    My second pressing question is how you can actually write: “compared to the national and international focus of the Senate” without doing a spit-take all over your keyboard and putting it out of commision?

    C’mon Michael, the only federal people that have REAL international relations experience are Presidents and Sec’s of State. Everyone else is just a wannabe on coat-tails. The reason Governors are so electable is because unlike Senators, they ALSO have experience that translates into foreign relations experience; experience that is both international and intranational.

    So I guess the third obvious question is how, if experience is so important, Obama even hits your radar? He has ZERO executive experience, ZERO international experience, ZERO military experience, and ZERO leadership experience (unless you think the “community organizor” experience, that nobody over 25 actually thinks fits on a resume, matters). Maybe, arguably, he’s a better choice than Palin, but WHY?

    But then if you SERIOUSLY think that the comparison of JFK and Obama is even remotely valid, then you must have been hanging out at the meth house with the guys in the article. Clearly, you are entirely unaware of JFK’s actual, not revisioned, but actual political policies were.

  4. Michael says:

    Quickly, because I have work to do:

    Senators have many opportunities to be involved in foreign relations, and not just because they advise and consent on treaties and ambassadors. Unlike McCain Obama sits on the foreign relations committee; Obama may not have made the most of it, but the choice to go there reflects some concern and interest in the wider world.

    As to why senators don’t win more elections — Legislators accumulate track records via their votes that make it harder for them to get elected than Governors, who often leave less clear fingerprints on controversial policies.

    JFK wasn’t a liberal (he ran on the “missile gap”). Neither is Obama. Obama shows signs of having a well-developed and thoughtful worldview. It may not be mine, but it’s fairly consistent and reasonably sophisticated. McCain shows no such signs, unless you think the reaction to countries that don’t do what we want is to bluster and sabre-rattle (and possibly invade or bomb). McCain’s military experience was a very long time ago, and is not encouraging: crashing planes, being a decorative Senate aide, doing at most an adequate job of running an actual military unit, and being slated to be passed over for promotion. I think Obama’s management of his campaign to date is a better credential than that — or of McCain’s Rovian choices.

    The suggestion that what governors do is per se something “that translates into foreign relations experience” strikes me as pretty silly.

    I presume some commendable sense of shame for writing this sort of stuff above is why you don’t sign your real name to your remarks?

  5. Mojo says:

    “If Senators are so special, how come the pretty much never get elected President?
    This claim is based on a bait and switch that make it seem like a Senator becoming President is much more unusual than it actually is.
    15 Senators have gone on to become President. I believe the number of Governors who’ve gone on to become President is also 15. The oft-quoted “only two” refers to those who are elected to the presidency while serving as Senators, and that number will soon be three. The “only two” number is often followed by something along the lines of “while the last four Presidents have all been Governors”, which conveniently ignores the fact that neither Carter nor Reagan was a “sitting Governor” at the time of their election so it’s comparing apples to oranges.
    I think Governors, particularly Governors from states with a weak Governor system, do have a bit of advantage as politics is played today as they don’t have a complex voting record to distort and can take credit for everything good that happens in their state, even if it also happens in lots of other states, while blaming everything bad on the legislature. But the effect is exaggerated by the inaccurate but common belief that Senators almost never become President.

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