Friday, June 06, 2008

How to impress a Democrat in four years or less

Remember Darrell Bevell?

Oh, come on, sure you do. Tall. Athletic. A little nerdy. He played quarterback for the Wisconsin Badgers in 1993, when they won the Rose Bowl.

Ah. Now you remember.

He graduated in 1995, and spent the next few years bouncing from one college coaching job to another. In 2000, he came to Green Bay to coach quarterbacks. Then, in 2006, the Minnesota Vikings made him their offensive coordinator.

Offensive coordinator for a pro football team. That’s a big deal. And he got there only 10 years after leaving college. Only 6 years after getting his first NFL job.

That’s fast. Meteoric, even.

But, let's say he got that job in, oh, let's say four years. Or, say, if he’d become a head coach, back in 2004.

That would have been fast.

But nobody rises that fast. You can’t. You shouldn’t. You’re setting yourself up for failure if you accept such a prominent job – such a huge responsibility – without putting in the time. Without paying the dues.

For example: in 1958, Colin Powell was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. Four years later, he made captain. Fourteen years after that, he graduated from the National War College. He made brigadier general two years later, and then, in 1989, was appointed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Thirty-one years from entry-level to The Man, and rightly so. That’s not a job for a neophyte. Not a place to stick some greenhorn who hasn’t seen it all with his own eyes.

Experience counts

You don’t become CEO of a major corporation four years out of business school. You don’t become Chief of Police four years after joining the force.

You don’t. You can’t. It takes time to learn. It takes personal knowledge of a variety of situations, events, emergencies, and how to deal with them. You have to understand the limits of your authority and of those around you. Know the personalities. The relationships.

Some positions, okay, four years is plenty of time. Department manager at Wal-Mart, for example. Others, though – head coach, general, CEO – four years isn’t enough.

President? Now, President of the United States…sure, that’s okay. Four years is plenty.

If you’re a Democrat.

Impressive resume, Democrat-style

This week, it became official: Barack Obama, who on Inauguration Day will have served in the U.S. Senate for four full years, is the Democrat nominee for President of the United States.

Experience, for the Democrats, is not a prerequisite.

They could have chosen experience. Experience was available to them. Obama’s main rival, Hillary Clinton, has twice his experience in the Senate, not to mention eight years as First Lady. Hey, it was a front-row seat. It counts for something.

What about the other candidates? Well, Sen. Joe Biden (D-Delaware) has served in the U.S. Senate since 1973 (Obama turned 12 that year). He chaired the Judiciary Committee for 8 years, and currently chairs the Committee on Foreign Relations.

That’s experience.

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Connecticut) was elected to the House in 1974 and the Senate in 1980. He chairs the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

Gov. Bill Richardson (D-New Mexico) was elected to the House in 1982, where he served for 14 years before being appointed Ambassador to the United Nations, and then Secretary of Energy. He’s been Governor of New Mexico now for over five years.

That’s an impressive resume.

But no, no, and no. Those candidates – each with resumes covering nearly my entire life – earned zero delegates during the campaign.

Instead, the one-term Senator from North Carolina was the Democrats’ third choice.

Clinton was the second choice.

The guy with a high school diploma’s worth of experience was the first.

This is not the action of a serious political party.

Personal experience. Time on the job. Personal knowledge of what it takes, what it means, what it is to hold power at the highest levels and what you can and can’t do with it and when. At least three Democrat candidates have it.

But not the candidate the Democrats chose. Not Barack Obama.

No matter, says the Democratic Party. We don’t need experience. We need Hope. And Change. And a winning smile, and a vote against the war, and a chance to call our opponents racist.

That’s all we need. It’ll be fine. We’re sure.

Two years ago, the Green Bay Packers hired Mike McCarthy to be their head coach. He’s been coaching in the NFL since 1993.

Had they hired Darrell Bevell, instead…well, Wisconsin’s a majority Democrat state, right? Obama won here by 18 points.

So. An inexperienced kid, at the helm of the most storied franchise in the NFL…Packers fans wouldn't have minded? Right?

And even if they did care, well, that's football. Much more important than the Presidency.


firelawyer said...


Have you already forgotten about the fellow you recently helped elect and re-elect as President?

Wasn't his first job in the oil business CEO, his first job in major league Team Owner, his first job in Texas government Governor, and his first job in the federal government President?

Or are you saying it's OK as long as you're a Republican?

Lance Burri said...

Firelawyer (if that is your real name), are you saying that since Republicans did it, Democrats should, too?

Oh, no, wait, you're saying this is the Democrats' way of one-upping the Republicans, right?

Because you're right, Bush was Governor of Texas - CEO of one of the largest states - for only six years before becoming president. Before that, he was a high-ranking executive in the oil industry, and part owner and GM of the Rangers.

Top-level experience in both politics and business, and his resume wasn't nearly as impressive as those three other Democrats I mentioned.

Way to go, Dems. Anything we can do, you can do better!

firelawyer said...

Your original post is critical of anyone who would enter an organization at the top.

My comment points out that GW has done this -- not once, but four times.

Your reply doesn't criticize GW for this, but instead seems to commend him for it.

If you take both sides of the issue, I guess this won't be much of a debate...

Sean (my real name)

Lance Burri said...

No, my post was not critical of "anyone who would enter an organization at the top." It is critical of Democrats for nominating a guy with so little experience.

Clearly, Obama isn't "starting at the top." I never made that argument. Just as clearly, he doesn't have nearly the credentials of the other candidates. Yet he was the Democrats' choice. Clearly, Democrats care nothing for actual job qualifications.

I'm aware that Bush was hardly the most qualified candidate when he ran in 2000. Still, he was more qualified than Obama. Whether he was guilty of "starting at the top" in his career previous to that is another argument, which I did not broach in my post.

firelawyer said...

Either it's a big deal to get the top job without prior experience, or it's not...

You say it's a big deal when talking about Obama, despite the fact that his education is in the areas of law, political science and international relations, the fact that he has spent decades working in the areas of politics and governance, and the fact that he entered Illinois government as a state senator, and the fact that he entered US government as a Senator.

You then seem to say it's not a big deal when talking about GW, despite the fact that his education was in business, he entered the oil business as a CEO, entered baseball as a team owner, entered Texas government as Governor, and entered US government as the President.

It certainly seems that Obama has done more work to prepare himself for the top job in US government than GW had at the same point in his life.

A disinterested observer might conclude that your argument might be somewhat slanted in favor of GW and against Obama...

Lance Burri said...

Interested, disinterested, whatever. Any observers who don't realize I slant in favor of GW are too obtuse to be on the internet alone.

I did not say experience wasn't a big deal when talking about GW. Experience mattered then, too. I didn't mention him in my post because he isn't running again. Want to compare Obama's experience with McCain's? Most Democrats did not compare Obama with Dodd, Biden, or Richardson - three candidates monumentally more experienced than Obama.

firelawyer said...

Golly - people didn't vote the way you think they should have? That democracy's a bitch, isn't it?

I agree that all three of the politicians you cite have far longer resumes than does Obama.

But Dodd and Biden joined McCain and Clinton in voting for George's War, and that's not exactly the kind of experience the American public seems to be looking for this time around.

And who knows? Maybe Richardson will get the chance to be Vice-President...


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