The Inexperienced Legend

Legends are myths. Some political legends start with a comment or statement. The statement is quoted, often out of context. Next, the quote spreads by email, posting to blogs, and word of mouth. Then, like-minded circles of the media report on the legend, and in the minds of many, the legend has now become fact.

In March of this year, ABC News reported that McCain said "[Obama] does not understand the ... fundamental elements of national security and warfare ... because he has no experience or background in any of it."

Three weeks ago, McCain escalated his tirade. Andy Borowitz of The Huffington Post quoted McCain saying "Let's say a constituent calls you and says that a caribou has wandered onto his front lawn. My friends, Barack Obama wouldn't know what to do."

Pardon the digression, but McCain said that Sarah Palin would know: she would grab her gun and shoot the poor critter - for inadvertently walking on someone's lawn, mind you. Wouldn't it be better to simply get a broom and bang it on the side of the house and say shooooooo? Or was McCain really using this as a metaphor to illustrate his foreign policy?

Any way, NBC's Cherelle Kantey reported this past Sunday that former Clinton campaign staffer, Luchy Scaira, jumped ship and joined the McCain campaign alleging that Obama was too inexperienced for the presidency.

Right wing pseudo-pundit Rush Limbaugh claims that Obama is too inexperienced and incompetent to be the president.

All that aside, moral character and the experience and education to tackle the nation's problems should be what guide voters to decide who will lead this country for the next four years. Both are moral men and love this country. Obama is exponentially more educated than McCain. McCain, however, has been in public service for more than twice as long as Obama. The issue at hand, however, is to analyze the assertions from the right that Obama lacks the experience to be president.

An objective analysis generally leads to a logical conclusion. Some claim Obama lacks experience because he's serving his first term as a U. S. Senator, but fail to mention that he has also served eight years in the Illinois legislature. Moreover, he has served on senate committees dealing with foreign relations and homeland security.

Nevertheless, put together a table listing all 42 presidents, the office(s) they held prior to being elected, and the number of years served in each respective office. The time they served as vice president, governor, senator, congressman, in their state legislature, as a general, or as a cabinet member was counted and totaled.

The table was downloaded into an excel spreadsheet. No data was changed or altered. To see how Obama stacked up against all former presidents, his name was added to the table and he was credited with 11 years cumulative experience for his service in the U. S. Senate and Illinois legislature. His years of service on senate committees and as a community organizer was not counted.

The table was then sorted from the least number of cumulative years of political service to the greatest number of years (Click Here to View).

The result might surprise you.

If Obama is elected, he will be tied with Presidents Pierce and Eisenhower with 11 years' experience. Moreover, with 11 years under his belt, Obama would enter the White House with more experience than 21 of the 42 previous presidents.

Among the most notable presidents with less experience than Obama include Abraham Lincoln, Herbert Hoover, Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush and Ronald Regan.

Of the most notable presidents with more experience than Obama are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, George H. W. Bush, Gerald Ford, Lyndon B. Johnson, Bill Clinton and John F. Kennedy.

Consequently, this table exposes the "inexperienced" rhetoric for what it is - smoke and mirrors and a last grasp at the elusive straw for the GOP.

The economy is in shambles. Unemployment is up. Food prices have skyrocketed. Millions of hard working, middle class people have lost their homes. Many more will. Jobs continue to be shipped overseas. The national debt has almost doubled in eight years under Bush and congress has raised the limit to 11 trillion dollars. Bush has all but bankrupted this country. Osama Bin Laden is alive, well, and presumably still plotting. Over 4,100 Americans have died in Iraq, and there seems to be no end in sight.

The GOP has cleverly avoided addressing the true issues in this election because if they didn't, the Democrats would win by a landslide this November. For example, just hours ago, (12:03 PDT) McCain announced that he is "suspending" his campaign and wants to delay the debate scheduled for Friday night. One can hardly blame him considering it will cost the taxpayer some 700 billion dollar to bailout the mortgage industry.

Politics is a lot like some movies. It may be based on a true story, but the director reserves the artistic license to change the facts to make the story entertaining. So it is with the GOP: avoiding debates and resorting to legend and myth to manufacture issues that distract from the truth because it is the only leg they have a chance of standing on.

It seems the whole McCain campaign strategy is inspired by the famous line from the 1962 John Wayne movie "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance:"

"When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."