Friday, June 4, 2010

Redux: A Senator As President?

On March 28, 2008, long before Obama was sworn in, I wrote a blog entitled "A Senator as President?". The purpose of that entry was to show how unprepared a Senator can be to rise to the presidential level. Given all of today's problems, with Barack Obama in charge, I think it was fairly prophetic. So, here's a reprise of that March 2008 blog:

It has been a long time since this country has elected a President from the ranks of the United States Senate. The last one was John F. Kennedy in 1960; nearly a half century, ago. And, any Senator becoming President has only happened 15 times (out of 43 Presidents) in all of U.S. history. Only two Presidents, John F. Kennedy and Warren Harding, were elected to the Presidency while still actively serving in the United States Senate. Of those two, only Harding had any previous experience in serving in the Executive Branch of any State or Federal Government.

Typically, a Senator has been elevated to the Office of President after having left the Senate to serve in some other capacity such as Vice President, Secretary of State, or as a State Governor. 8 of those 15 Senators who were elected to the high office, had previously served in an executive capacity as a Governor of some State. One other, William Harding, had at least served as a Lieutenant Governor. Four of those 15 previous Senators (John Tyler, Andrew Johnson, Harry Truman, and Lyndon Johnson) were serving as Vice President while the then-current President died in office. Only 3 of all of those 15 Senators, who became President, actually served for more than one term as President. And, of those 3 that served two terms, only one, Harry S. Truman, had no previous executive experience as a Governor of a State.

In 2009, it is almost an absolute surety that a U.S. Senator will, again, be elected President. It will be either Hillary Clinton, or Barack Obama, or John McCain. And, this time, unlike any other time in our history, none of them will have had any previous "executive experience" as a State Governor; or, as Vice President; or, having served in any cabinet capacity such as the Secretary of State. The least senior of them, Barack Obama, will not have even served a full term as the Junior Senator from Illinois. Nor, did he have any previous experience in Washington such as a House Representative. Hillary Clinton is barely into her second term as the junior Senator from New York. Prior to that she was the First Lady to President Clinton and the same position to Bill Clinton as the Governor of Arkansas. At least John McCain has served as a Senator since 1987; and, before that, served a single term in the United States Congress.

As pointed out in the first paragraph of this post, "statistical history" has a lot going "against" these three candidates. At the very least, historical fact says that the odds are almost "nil" that any of them will be able to go beyond a second term. It all comes down to administrative experience.

Most all two-term Presidents have had prior experience as a military leader or as a Governor. Obviously, that gave them experience in managing people, tasks, disasters, and budgets. Senators just don't carry those credentials. They typically try to spend money without "any" regard as to where the funding will come from. It's part of their "inborn" and "pork barrel" genetic structure. The same is true with regard to managing people. There is a total disconnect between adding people and what those new jobs will actually do to the Federal budget. Often, if they can add some big government program, with lots of people, they view it as a political feather in their cap. When it comes to the day-to-day operations of government or to any disaster recovery, Senators, like all members of Congress, are great at hindsight; especially when things have gone seriously wrong. They are always on the outside; looking in. Rarely, do any of them even know how to implement the programs and laws they enact. They are certainly clueless as to the everyday operations within government.

So, here we are. In the fall, we will be faced with two Senators vying for the Office of President. While I can't predict whether or not either of them will be a good President, history has spoken, and it says, more than likely, neither one will be good enough to be elected for a second term. My concern is that we will probably elect the "most junior" of them to lead this country: Barack Obama. If so, we will have someone in office who, just three years ago, was shown the locations of the restrooms in the Senate Office Building. He has never managed an operating budget. He has never served in the military and has no understanding of its organization and operational concerns. He has never managed people in a broad organization. While it is true that John McCain is also a Senator without people or budget experience, he did get military leadership experience while being a Navy Officer. Further, he has spent a lot more years in Washington and has a better understanding of the operation of Government.

Barack Obama says he will "change" Washington. To change something, you must have a good, working knowledge of that something. He simply does not have that experience. I liken this to Bill Clinton's stumbling attempt to mandate that gays could serve "openly" as members of our military. It was one of his first executive orders after taking office. It was a political payoff for the "gay" support he received during his campaign for the Presidency. It was a total disaster because Bill Clinton never served in the military and never understood the close quarters that military personnel must live in. His "backtrack" from his original "gay order" resulted in the "Don't ask...Don't Tell policy"; a policy which received nothing but criticism from both sides of the political aisle, then, and still continues to receive criticism, today.

I guess we prepare ourselves for the potential of having the "least" qualified President, Barack Obama, in the history of United States.

Tomorrow, I will re-post another blog that I wrote that was in the same vein.

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