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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 to Administration. 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.



2008-10-23 16:22:55

Just focusing on the part (cause I don't wish to get into a political debate) where you said, "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?"

Mc Cain retired as a Captain in the US Navy in 1981. The rank of Captain is a senior officer rank. When it comes to military experience, Mc Cain definitely has been "tested" and most definitely has the experience. Being Commander-in-Chief of the US Military forces, I believe a President should have extensive knowledge in that field.
After retiring from the Navy in 1981, Mc Cain pursued politics, serving in the House of Representatives followed by the Senate.

I know Mc Cain's life isn't new news, but he has worked in politics close to 30 years. Some might not agree with his policies throughout those years, but I think it's safe to say that Mc Cain played football, made team captain, went on to be the special teams coach, then the offensive line coach and is now qualified for the head coach position.
REPLIES: alishahnovin



2008-10-23 16:47:16

Replying to Matty:
Just to make it clear, I'm not arguing for either party here. My only criticism is saying that someone has been "tested." The same holds for the Obama rhetoric - "Ready on day one."

McCain has certainly taken a step-by-step ascension towards the Presidency, and one could certainly argue that Obama's taken a huge leap upwards. And arguments can be made for either case: One could claim the Presidency is something worked towards steadily over 27 years, while another could say that someone who would make a good President would be come immediately visible, and could jump straight into it. Either way, these are assumptions we're making based on character, over experience - or in other words, there are some people who, even after 27 years, could never be President. It comes down to who the person is.

One popular criticism is about "on the job training." But all jobs have on the job training, unless you've done the exact job before. No one has sat at the President's desk (unless they snuck in after hours), been privy to intelligence from around the world, etc. It's empty rhetoric to claim you're ready for a job and title which you've never had before.



2008-10-23 17:39:31

Being that you mention McCain mostly I assumed that you were making a point that he's not ready. I see now where your criticism points.

Someone has to be ready for the job as President. If there was no one "ready" for a job or a position, there would be no progress. Someone who hasn't been a President before certainly does not have Presidential experience, but why can't that person say they're ready to hold the position? If I was ready to fill my duties as a President and felt in my heart I could address the issues our Nation faces to the best of my ability, then I would say I'm ready for that position.

If someone worked at McDonalds for a number of years and was very competent in their job duties, most likely they would be ready to hold a supervisor position. They would never have held that position before but could probably say with confidence that they are "ready".

P.S. I don't mean to be confrontational. I enjoy reading your articles. They're always well written and loaded with interesting info. :)
REPLIES: alishahnovin



2008-10-23 18:04:31

Replying to Matty:
Ha ha, I enjoy the discussion, and do appreciate your comments.

There's nothing wrong with saying you're ready for a position. But that's not quite what's being done here. What's happening here is it's an argument McCain is using in his own favor, and arguing against Obama for the same reason. I'm making no claim as to who is more ready, or who would be better suited as President. What I will say is that Obama is criticized frequently for "empty rhetoric" - but claiming that you've been tested is equally empty.

And to clarify a particular point, I'm not saying that McCain or Obama have no experience, or no beneficial experience. Any experience is good experience, but the idea that one is immediately ready for a position that - let's be honest, may very well be one of the most, if not the most, important positions in the entire world, is a very difficult claim to make in my opinion. I mean, the amount of power, ability, impact the American President has, is not one to be taken lightly. The amount of issues an American President may face are also incomparable to that of a state Senator, or Governor. Just looking at the last President, who had dealt with 9/11, Katrina, two wars, mortgaging and economic crises, etc - these are largely issues that may or may not have been predicted, but are very difficult issues for one person to handle in 8 years. I'll leave you to decide how well they were handled...but you could look at Clinton and the number of issues he tackled as well.

If I appear more critical of McCain than Obama, it's more due McCain having had made the comments more recently, and having made them in an interview which lead my thoughts down this path.

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