Over at Hit and Run, Dave Weigel counters conservative criticism that Obama is inexperienced by pointing out that George W. Bush had served just 6 years as governor in 2000, yet he beat Al Gore, who had far more experience in government. There are a few reasons why I don’t think this is a fair comparison. Firstly, as a governor, Bush had at least served in an executive capacity, while Obama hasn’t, and Americans traditionally avoid Senators in presidential elections. Because of his youth and charisma, Obama is often compared to JFK, who was the only Senator to win a modern election. But JFK was a WWII hero and had spent 14 years in Congress (as a Representative and Senator) by 1960, so he wasn’t quite the novice that Obama is. Secondly, back in 2000, foreign policy was not a dominant issue. If it was, perhaps Gore would have won the election, and as I theorized yesterday, McCain may have even beaten Bush in the primaries. It will no doubt be an obstacle for Obama to convince Americans that he’s fit to be commander-in-chief given the state of the world and just a few years in the Senate under his belt.
That’s not to say that I’d write off his chances. After years of divisive war, there may be a market for a president who’s more of a healer than warrior, and if that’s the case Obama’s sunny optimism and fresh face would fit the bill.