Tuesday, September 09, 2008

presidential qualifications

Speaking of presidential politics, I am always amused and somewhat surprised that there is so much emphasis put on “experience” when discussing the candidates’ qualifications for the job of President of the United States. The fact that the job of president is unique in the world should mitigate the requirement that a potential president have experience as president. Where, pray tell, does one get that experience? A lot can be said about those candidates who have experience in various governing and management capacities, but until you have actually been president, you can’t have the experience everyone is talking about to do the job.

All we can really hope for is that the job of president is turned over to someone with the necessary intelligence and mental acuity to learn on the job. We all know what happens when a man of limited ability and intelligence manages to fall into the job. We get a country that is engaged in fighting an unjust, even illegal war, that costs the taxpayers some 10 billion dollars a month to propagate and costs even more in the lives shattered and lost, a country in the throes of an economic slump that sees too many citizens losing their jobs and homes, a country that ignores the plight of people who can’t afford health care or medications, a country that is in an energy crisis that finds itself reliant on foreign oil from countries that are opposed to our principles, a country whose official stand on global warming is that it is a myth and that raping the environment is fine as long as Big Oil gets its tax breaks and makes obscene profits, a country that sees its standing as a global power diminished more each day.

While it is true that Barack Obama has little experience on the national level of government, being a first term senator with a background in local politics and community service, his obvious intelligence bodes well for his likely ability to handle the demands of the presidency. He has shown an inclination to look at the problems facing our country and arrive at carefully considered solutions to those problems. That some critics want to paint him as elitist and arrogant only shows that they are willing to settle for more years of buffoonery in the presidency.

John McCain’s reputation as a so-called maverick is well deserved. So is his reputation for shooting from the hip, making snap decisions and quick judgments and damn the consequences. And while no one can possibly question his patriotism and courage (how does being a prisoner of war qulaify a person for high government office?), there are those in the senate who have found him to be mean spirited, vindictive, and dismissive of those who disagree with him. His admitted lack of understanding of economics is frightening (I wish I was in his definition of the middle class—anyone earning 5 million dollars or less per year). His unflinching support for the war in Iraq can only suggest that if he becomes president we will be mired in those treacherous desert sands for many more years. His typical Republican dismissal of working class Americans in favor of tax breaks for big business as a way of stimulating the economy and creating jobs is so out of touch that it only emphasizes his disconnection from those working class citizens. His claim to be an agent of change in Washington is laughable. He admits to voting with Bush 90% of the time so the only change he will bring to the presidency is his name. Which should be George McCain.

It is time that our country gets back on the track to serving the best interests of its citizens. It’s time to regain the respect we deserve as the preeminent power in the world. It’s time to put intelligence back into the office of president. Let’s not settle for less than the best. Time for change is here.

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