The Spectacle Blog

The Stature Gap

By on 2.13.08 | 11:25AM

Jennifer Rubin makes an argument that you're going to hear frequently if Barack Obama becomes the Democratic nominee: Obama doesn't have the experience or credentials to serve as wartime commander in chief, especially when compared to John McCain. Obama would indeed be the greenest major party nominee since Jimmy Carter, maybe even Wendell Willkie, and McCain would be particularly well situated to make an issue out of his "opponent's youth and inexperience."

It's an important part of defeating Obama, but it won't be sufficient. For one thing, even after the surge, most Americans want to reduce rather than increase the U.S. commitment in Iraq. They see the "realities we face" differently than McCain does. Changing that narrative may be important than pointing to his experience doing things voters don't like. Secondly, this is the very same argument that many conservatives made -- to no avail -- in defense of George H.W. Bush against Bill Clinton. Granted, Clinton was more experienced than Obama and 1992 was a peacetime election. But given the voters' attitudes about the war and occasional willingness to overlook stature gaps, I'm not sure this is an insurmountable disadvantage.

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