As I watched NBC's Brian Williams interview McCain and Palin last night, I found myself hearing much about McCain being tried and tested. That was his comment in response to Biden's recent "gaff" - stating that Obama will be tested by those wishing to do America harm, taking advantage of his youngness and inexeperience. This comment was related to the young Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis of the 60s, and as McCain asserted that he's been tested, and he's ready. Later they commented on Powell's endorsement of Obama, and his criticism of McCain for choosing Palin as a running mate. Palin claimed she's far more experienced than Obama, which seemed to suggest that she'd be ready for a crisis or catastrophe, while Obama would not. But have any of them truly been "tested?" Are any of them experienced
to be President?
How can one be "tested" as a run for Presidency, I can't help but wonder. Of course, McCain had a strong career in the military, and was a pilot during the Cuban Missile Crisis. But is that tested? There's a fair difference, in my mind, between the one who is firing and taking the shots, and the one who's calling the shots. Would every football player make an great football coach? I once was speaking with a Software Developer who was the founder of a startup company. His position within the company was that of a Sr. Developer. I asked him why he didn't want anything more - even the Lead Developer, or the Developer Project Manager. He said he was a good developer, and could do best as a developer. He'd leave the managing to those who were managers. Even if McCain was a General instead of a Senator, I'd still see be uncertain at his "testedness" to be a President. The course of Soldier to General to President starts at Application
. I've read about McCain as a soldier, as a POW, and he made a great one - doing his best to keep up the morale of the other captive soldiers, not placing his desires and needs ahead of anyone elses. While I'm certain that attitude would remain unchanged were he to become President, I still see a disconnect between Application and Administration.
When one is under the "Application" title, they definitely get some ideas of Administration, but a large portion of it is through their experience in applying what was administered. There is little view of the thought process, the allocation of funds, of resources, the compromise, the reasoning, etc. Instead, there's a more case-by-case view - in scenario X, approach was Y taken, yielding result Z.
Someone who's been an "applier" may have a lot of different case-by-case knowledge, as they've seen a variety of scenarios, variety of approaches, and variety of results. But this sort of knowledge, when put to administration, would turn out to be nothing but a trial and error approach. Not the best thing, when you're in the middle of a crisis or catastrophe.
What of McCain's time in the Senate? He's certainly had more Administrative experience than Obama, but only as a Senator. He's been Senator over the course of a few different wars, but his role within these wars have all been that of a Senator - forming subcommitees, visiting the nations, etc. I would assume - actually, I would hope - that the level of information, the level of decision making, for the President is far greater than that of a Senator. They are given the intelligence, the advice of Generals and other advisors, and the final decision rests on their shoulders. It's certainly no easy task. It's also why the role of Presidency often gets related to that of a Governor - a Governor may not send their State to war, yet their role in their state is similar to that of a President.
Frankly, I can't see Obama, McCain, Biden, or Palin having experience as President
. It may sound obvious, but none of them have been President before. None of them have dealt with catastrophies from that rare perspective. They can hope their personal experiences will lead them to being a good President, but none have had formal experience. The three men as Senators, and Palin as a Governor, may have received word that a massive hurricane was expected to hit but none of them, in their respective positions, had to call the shots.
In my mind, the only person who can ever truly be experienced for a Presidency is someone running for their second term - that is, someone who has been President before. They've sat in the chair, and they're asking to be judged on their previous performance. Otherwise, all we have to judge the candidates on is how they've handled the mini-catastrophies within their own campaigns and hope it is an accurate reflection on their own administrative abilities.