Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Executive Experience


(CNN) — Barack Obama defended his experience in dealing with natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina, and took a swipe at newly minted GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

In an interview on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 Monday night, Obama was asked about whether his experience in the U.S. Senate dealing with weather-related situations compares to Palin’s executive experience running the state of Alaska and as the small town mayor of Wasilla, Alaska.

“My understanding is that Gov. Palin’s town, Wassilla [sic], has I think 50 employees. We've got 2500 in this campaign. I think their budget is maybe 12 million dollars a year – we have a budget of about three times that just for the month,” Obama responded.

Our ability to manage large systems and to execute I think has been made clear over the past couple of years and certainly in terms of the legislation I’ve passed in the past couple of years, post-Katrina.”
I hardly know where to begin with this. Obama is quick to point out that his campaign is larger than the government of Wasilla (whose name CNN misspells) both in terms of employees and in terms of budget. Of course, Obama completely ignores that she hasn't been mayor of Wasilla since 2002. In 2002 Obama was a state senator from the South Side of Chicago, and as unknown on the national scene as the Mayor of Wasilla.

But for most of the last two years, while Obama has been running for President, Palin has been Governor of Alaska. Alaska's budget for fiscal 2008 projects ~$13.3 billion in revenue, with total outlays of ~$11.5 billion. That's almost a billion a month, which dwarfs Obama's total campaign budget, even accounting for the way he burns through money. I haven't been able to find a reliable number telling me how many state employees ultimately report to the Governor, but given the size of the budget it's probably at least as large as Obama's campaign staff.

Now the question is, why did Obama ignore this? The answer is obvious: Acknowledging that Palin has been Governor of Alaska for the last two years dwarfs any executive experience he acquired the last two years. Thus he brings up Palin's experience as town mayor from over half a decade ago and hopes that we're all too stupid to notice the giant gaping hole in his argument.

I will also point out that passing legislation about natural disasters is hardly the same thing as executive experience, even if he or his staff were responsible for the legislation, instead of merely another useless co-sponsor.

But neither Obama nor his supporters will face the fact that he is astoundingly inexperienced. The worst single example was given by Mort Kondrake over the weekend on Fox News Channel, who said that Obama had the experience to be President because he's been running for President for several years. Amazing! By this formulation Lyndon LaRouche, Angela Davis and the late Pat Paulsen were all imminently qualified to be President. Hell, I'm building up my own qualifications for the job as I write! I won't win this year, but in 2012 I'll be more ready for the job than Obama is right now!

Obama's supporters are free to support him for the job. They're free to either ignore his lack of executive experience and/or to think said experience is over-rated. But don't tell the rest of us that your guy DOES have executive experience when he clearly doesn't. It's the dishonesty, stupid!


bill said...

Here's an entertaining take on Palin.

Icepick said...

Awesome! Reading this I decided that Robert Heinlein would have loved Sarah Palin - which must surely be a sign that I was right to think she might be a disaster for McCain.

XWL said...

Possibly McCain's pick of Palin is similar to what might have happened in '76 had Ford felt compelled to pick Reagan as his running mate insted of Dole.

That would have gotten conservative voters off their duffs, and possibly swung a few states away from Jimmy Carter. With Reagan on the ticket Ford might have won in Ohio, Texas and Mississippi, which would have been enough to have prevented the terror known as the 'Carter Years'.

(or not, I don't think VPs make much of a difference on who people vote for, but the VP picks do show what a candidate thinks of themselves, thinks they lack, and what they think the voters expect from them)

Icepick said...

Until proven otherwise I will hold to my contention that VP choices don't matter unless they're disasters.

Icepick said...

XWL, here's a post that discusses a possible argument for Palin helping the ticket.