From Jim Manzi at "The Corner" comes "Experience and Presidential Performance". In this article Manzi defines his own list of the best 5 Presidents and the worst 5 Presidents. Then he compares their pre-White House 'experience':
In order to characterize pre-presidential experience, I've defined "Executive" experience specifically as a government seniormost executive (basically, governor of a state or supreme military commander, but excluding positions like vice president, cabinet member or subordinate general). I've defined "Legislative" experience as the national legislature – a U.S. senator of Member of the U.S. House of Representatives – but excluding tings service on a town council or in a state legislature.
Here are the Executive and Legislative backgrounds of the top 5:
- Washington: Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army
- Lincoln: Member of Congress
- FDR: Governor of New York
- Jefferson: Governor of Virginia; Delegate to the Congress of the Confederation
- TR: Governor of New York
Here are the backgrounds of the bottom 5:
- Buchanan: U.S Senator
- Harding: U.S. Senator
- Pierce: U.S. Senator; Member of Congress
- Andrew Johnson: Member of Congress; Governor of Tennessee; U.S. Senator
- Fillmore: Member of Congress
It's kind of striking that 4 of the top 5 had Executive experience (with the obvious, and towering, exception of Abraham Lincoln), while 4 of the bottom 5 did not. In fact, the best presidents have tended to have predominantly Executive experience, and the worst presidents predominantly Legislative experience.
Manzi could have added Ronald Reagan to this top 5 list, too. Most Republicans would put him that high. His pre-Presidential experience would be two terms as Governor of California.
And Jimmy Carter could have been added to the bottom 5 list. Most Republicans, not to mention an awful lot of Democrats, would put him down there. Carter's pre-Presidential experience would be the anomaly. He served as Governor of Georgia before running for the White House.
Experience is useful, helpful. But it's a bit of a bug-a-boo, really. If I'm going to look at the candidates I'm going to compare what I consider their judgement, as well as their character. And in that I would place John McCain and Sarah Plain heads-and-shoulders above Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Just my opinion, but I'll go with it.
Manzi closes with:
Of course, what this simple analysis also calls to mind is the comparable experience base for the other three members of both major tickets:
- McCain: U.S. Senator; Member of Congress; No Executive experience
- Obama: U.S Senator; No Executive experience
- Biden: U.S. Senator; No Executive experience
Sarah Palin seems to be in good company.
Note: From the President of Planned Parenthood comes this uplifting thought:
What might have been encouraging news for women was just the opposite — somehow McCain had managed to find a woman running mate even more conservative than he is on women's rights. (As in, that wacko didn't abort the Mongoloid!)