Monday, February 04, 2008

Politics and Experience

Thomas Sowell deflates Hillary Clinton and John McCain's claims of "experience"; for example:
Whether in Arkansas or in Washington, Hillary Clinton has spent decades parlaying her husband's political clout into both money and power. How did that benefit anybody but the Clintons?

For those people whose memories are short, go on the Internet and look up Whitewater, the confidential raw FBI files on hundreds of Republican politicians that somehow -- nobody apparently knows how -- ended up in the Clinton White House illegally.

Look up the sale of technology to China that can enable them to more accurately hit American cities with nuclear missiles. Then look up the money that found its way to the Clintons through devious channels.

Look up Bill Clinton's firing of every single U.S. Attorney in the country, which of course included those who were investigating him for corruption as governor of Arkansas.

It would be hard to find two people less trustworthy than the Clintons or with a longer trail of sleaze and slime.

Senator John McCain is also touting his "experience," both in politics and in the military.

Senator McCain's political record is full of zig-zags summarized in the word "maverick." That is another way of saying that you don't know what he is going to do next, except that it will be in the interests of John McCain.

While you are on the Internet looking up the record of the Clintons, look up John McCain's record, including the Keating Five, the McCain-Feingold bill, and the McCain-Kennedy immigration bill.

John McCain's military service was both honorable and heroic. But let's not confuse that with experience relevant to being President of the United States.

John McCain was a naval aviator, an important and demanding job. But a naval aviator is not like Patton or Eisenhower.
Politics and experience have almost nothing in common these days. We have, on the one hand, professional politicians whose working lives are dedicated to feeding at the public trough for the power, glory, and graft it brings them. We have, on the other hand, a gullible public that mistakes politicians for "real people" and political experience for real experience.

Hillary Clinton was born and raised in comfortable circumstances. Most of her adult life has been spent as a lobbyist, political aide, political appointee (by which I include her partnership in the Rose Law firm), politician's enabler, and then U.S. Senator.

In John McCain we have a son and grandson of admirals. (There is privilege in that, believe me.) McCain's 54 years in the Naval Academy, Navy, and Congress was punctuated (almost 30 years ago) by a brief fling in the private sector (courtesy of his second wife's father).

What "real people" need are politicians with real experience. The experience of having parents who sometimes struggled to make ends meet. The experience of having done the same for at least a few years of one's adulthood. The experience of having owned and run a business without a public or private subsidy. The experience of having seen, close up, the inner workings of government bureaucracies, in all their cumbersome ineptitude.

Real experience isn't enough to qualify anyone for political office, but it's a start. It's a necessary condition, if not a sufficient one.