One Reason not to dis Barack Obama
I'm trying to decide who I'm supporting for President, and frankly, I'm not getting there. Along the way, I'm hearing lots of bad reasons for not supporting one candidate or another. I understand how this works. Most of us make a decision, based on some jumble of reasons or emotions, and then go looking for ways to prop it up.
And that's fine with me. If you have a horse in this race, go ride it. But I just want to be that little voice out here on the sidelines urging you to stay a little flexible. After all, your candidate just might fall by the wayside. That happens, right? And people of good will eventually will need all the help they can get for this campaign to turn out well.
So, in the interest of increasing the level of cognitive dissonance among readers of this fine web-based establishment, let me suggest several reasons you shouldn't broadcast too fervently in buttressing your own choice for President. I'll start with Barack Obama. Next time, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards.
Barack Obama isn't ready. He's inexperienced and we can't take the risk.
Preparation might mean being knowledgeable about issues such as climate change. Or it might imply personal gravitas -- the ability to face tough times without indecision or panic. It might even mean familiarity with the inside D.C. game.
One gets to be president when opportunity meets preparation. Rarely do the two come together with perfect timing. If I had to peruse the list of recent culprits -- er, Presidents -- my results would run like this:
Bush II: will never, ever, be even remotely ready for anything but a ranch outside of Waco.
Clinton I: obviously not ready (and, by the way, younger when inaugurated than Obama would be. Funny how we discount such experience as organizing poor folk in Chicago, isn't it?)
Bush I: ready, rested, and wretched.
Reagan: clearly not ready, but quite good in front of a camera.
Carter: He's been ready for maybe a decade now, but it's too late.
Ford: to quote Nirvana, Nevermind.
Nixon: now there was a guy who was really, really ready.
Johnson: another really, really ready guy. Do I repeat myself? I got multitudes of this stuff in here.
Kennedy: not ready, but teachable. Could've been a contender. (Also younger when inaugurated than Obama would be at his inauguration. Cf. Clinton.)
Eisenhower: ready, and not all that awful a President, except that he planted that absurd Bay of Pigs fiasco in JFK's lap.
Truman: not ready. Not even close. A laughingstock (until the game was way over and the chips got counted).
FDR: not ready. Widely viewed as a silly effete rich guy (all true) until the opportunity presented itself and he wrung its neck and stepped into the pantheon.
OK, enough. While there is no precedent for Barack Obama (please reread that phrase three times), the "ready" Presidents-elect have not generally proven the value of prior high-level experience. It would not be unusual for a President to learn the gig on-the-job. Happens all the time. And Obama would have the advantage of potential generational and worldwide enthusiasm at a level we can barely yet imagine.
Next time, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards.