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Monday, March 3, 2008

Why Obama is Ahead on Experience

Common wisdom says that time allows you to forget the bad and only remember the good. My wife assures me that this is how nature tricks us into having more than one child.

Having never been through childbirth I have to refer to other examples. Perhaps it's this selective amnesia that allows men to love again, to have just one more drink, or to bet heavily on the favorite in a playoff game - all the while going against experience that should inform better judgment.

Experience is the topic of conversation on the campaign trail on the eve of crucial Presidential Primary voting tomorrow.

John McCain has experience. He's pretty old for sure and he's been in the US Senate a long time. How does that work for him in a year when a large number of the US electorate don't remember Viet Nam, or the Moon landing or a time when nobody had steel belted radial tires and everybody had a dial telephone? McCain has never struck me as someone who was consulted a lot on domestic or foreign policy initiatives. But he will always have my thanks for working with Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) to overthrow the incompetent leadership of Bill Frist in the Senate and work with the, "Gang of 14" to end an ugly partisan stalemate. His experience also includes the Keating 5 scandal and years of relationships with special interests and lobbyists. His comments about a hundred year war were immediately distorted by his opponents but the true nature of his words may actually be worse - indicating a continuing cold war "Bulwark of Demomcracy" mentality which is now about as quaint and useful as the Maginot Line.

Senator Clinton, as she constantly reminds us, has experience. The problem is that we also have experience - with her. A lot of us just don't like her. And her politicking has not improved her. The flattering sincerity of, "I'm honored" to be running against Senator Obama, followed within hours by a public scolding, "Shame on you Barack Obama" struck me as the kind of thing you dump a lover for. It's certainly not a reason to propose marriage. Perhaps she's hoping for the, "Experienced Woman Scorned" vote.

And that leaves Barack Obama. Without much national experience, he comes off looking better than either of his rivals because he has a lot less explaining to do.

All he has to do is win.

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