Experience Really Does Matter

When I grow up (like that will ever happen!), I want to be Gail Collins.

The witty New York Times columnist has an uncanny ability to hit political nails on their pointy little heads. Most recently, she considered the emergence of Presidential candidates like Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson, both of whom are touting their total lack of political experience as a reason to vote for them.

Virtually every elected president in American history — not counting the occasional military hero — made his way to the top by getting elected to other offices first. There are a couple of exceptions who just served in the cabinet, like Herbert Hoover. We can all look forward to hearing a candidate vow to return us to the golden days of the Hoover administration.

(Here in Indianapolis, we have some recent experience with a chief executive who knew nothing about politics or the governance of a city–or even what a city ought to look like– when he was elected. His steep learning curve has cost Indianapolis in numerous ways.)

When she was in business, I doubt that Fiorina would have hired a high-level executive who had no experience relevant to the position being filled, so one wonders why she thinks her own lack of experience somehow qualifies her for the presidency. (I won’t even raise the issue of her ignominious departure from Hewlett-Packard, after controversies which suggest she wasn’t all that successful in the private sector, either.)

I’ll leave the final word to the better wordsmith. As Collins wrote

People who run for president boasting that they aren’t politicians are frequently just trying to compensate for a lack of political skill. Carson (who presumably wants to run government like an operating room) is going to appeal to the folks who think the military is plotting to take over Texas, but otherwise, his only political gift seems to be for making outrageous statements. Fiorina ran for the Senate in 2010 and was beaten by Barbara Boxer, who was thought to be a vulnerable incumbent until Fiorina got hold of her, racking up a grand total of 42 percent of the vote.

On the plus side, Fiorina’s campaign produced one of the all-time great attack videos, in which her more moderate primary opponent was depicted as a Demon Sheep, portrayed by a man crawling across the grass with what looked like a wooly rug over his back and a piece of cardboard on his face. After that it was downhill all the way.

If you’re shopping for candidates with no experience in the business they want to lead, I’d say at least go for the one with the Demon. But really, there are smarter buys.


  1. I was thinking about this topic recently. My thought of was someone applying to run General Motors. They would tell the board that they have never seen a car, never driven a car and in fact hate cars in general. This would qualify them to run a car company if you believe the Fiorina and Carson position. I never could understand why Republicans who HATE the US government would want to run it. Very odd people indeed.

  2. I’m sure all of you are sick and tired of my continued references to Goldsmith BUT…he began the downhill slide in city government to where we are today. He SHOULD have been qualified to peform Mayoral duties having been a proscutor but was more interested in control, power and money and primarily, undoing all that Mayor Bill Hudnut had accomplished in 16 years. His chief financial advisor, and initially hired here to study Public Housing issues in Indianapolis, was vice president of a bank in Columbus, Ohio. He was also appointed Director of Department of Metropolitan Development while still VP of that bank in Columbus, Ohio and supposedly still studying local Public House but only spent a few days each month here. When I asked why DMD staff hadn’t received notifiction of his appointment as Director or why it wasn’t announced in the media, I was told because it was illegal. The Financial Manager of the Department of Metropolitan Development had a Masters Degree in Personnel Management from the University of India…no, I did NOT leave any letters off the end of that word! He appointed a beautiful, intelligent woman as Administrator of the Planning and Zoning Division for the city. She was the former Director of the Male Infertility Clinic in the I.U. Medical Center. I do have to give her credit; she lasted only a year or so because she worked within the law and tried to do the job as it should have been done. Goldsmith also had a liking for former real estate agents…not placed within City offices dealing with that issue on any level.

    I believe Mayor Bart Peterson probably undid as much Goldsmith damage to city government as was possible to do. He should be commended for accomplishing what he did against all odds and certainly should have been elected for a third term as Mayor. My support, and what little financial offering I can give, will be on Joe Hogsett. May the good Lord above help in cleaning up whatever the inept, ex-Marine Ballard and former Goldsmith cronies leave behind. Hopefully, come November 3rd, we will see as many party changes as is humanly and politically possible at that time. That will only happen if Democrats are paying attention and go to the polls to vote.

  3. IMO the GOP (Great Oligarchy Plot) no longer is in the business of politics but the business of business. Politics serves the people. They don’t.

    They are a service to business. They take in money from corporate America (evangelical Christianity now being a mega business), raw celebrity potential and voters whose minds have been befuddled by entertainment overdoses, and outputs laws that serve the one mission of corporations, make more money regardless of the cost to others.

    Look at the clown car of candidates so far. It speaks for itself.

    Unfortunately there are sufficient numbers of befuddled brains so that their business will remain successful until all those left with independent brains vote. That simple.

    The last capable Republican politician, Dwight Eisenhower, warned us that this would happen. The industrial military complex. And he never lived to see the power of mass media fully realized. How easily minds can be bent once they let the means into their lives.

    Every election is the easiest path to stop oligarchy. Every election won by the GOP makes it harder to stop next time. Just like every year taking inadequate steps towards mitigating climate change by burning fewer fossil fuels makes it harder because more has to be spent on adaptation and recovery.

    Is 2016 the year of the American Revolution II? The peaceful one won? The final opportunity?

  4. Then there are those who want our votes because they have no educational background, no special training and because of those requirements, everyone can feel superior to them, thus “identifying” with them. Among Sarah Palin’s credentials wasn’t it her ability to shoot a moose from a helicopter? So, for the perverse, I guess that means the less you know about anything–the more ignorant you are–and the less experience you have to offer, the better you will be at running a city or a state. This is a little different from when someone running for office at least pretended to aspire to becoming something better, and have some informed vision for the world. For some reason, the qualities of these people fit right in with an electorate with low civic literacy that doesn’t participate in elections. I don’t think this set of circumstances were considered by the founders of this nation, but if they were, it was why one of them called it the “Grand Experiment”.

  5. The Republicans have ALL been running as anti-government candidates for so long that I am willing to take them at their word. Just as I would never hire an individual who actively hated my industry and wanted to sabotage my company, so would I never vote for one of these people who claim to be patriotic but actually want the government to fail.

  6. It’s an appeal to the anti-intellectual vote. The GOP has become the know-nothing party, appealing only to the willfully ignorant and the naturally stupid.

  7. Angry stupid people want someone like themselves to attempt to run the country and fail miserably. Because THAT will show those book-readin’ varmints who REALLY runs this here country: angry stupid people. When will they just come out and start the Angry Stupid Party and get them all block-voting for drunks?

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