Saturday, September 13, 2008
The Democratic Party is trying its best to attack Governor Sarah Palin’s lack of experience to be Vice-President. Republicans adroitly point out the lack of experience of the Democratic Presidential nominee, Senator Barack Obama. In current American politics, pundits and politicos alike seem to gravitate towards experience and proven winners. However, they seem ignorant of history.
Take for example the resumes of two very different men. The first had all the experience anyone could hope for to be President. He served as a state legislator, a member of the US House of Representatives, a member of the US Senate, as Ambassador to Russia and the United Kingdom, and as Secretary of State. That President had the best resume going into the job of any President before or since. That man was loved by Washington insiders and the press of his time.
The second man had a much weaker resume. He served four terms in a state legislature, only to have his career end in being defeated at the polls. He served one term as a member of the US House, only to be quickly and strongly turned out by the voters for re-election. He was soundly defeated for a bid to the United States Senate. When he ran for President, he had been defeated more than either Sarah Palin or Barack Obama combined and had less experience than either of them in political office.
Who were those men mentioned above? The first was President James Buchanan. Though experienced like no other going into the White House, Buchanan is rated by historians as one of our worst presidents. Despite his strong resume he seemed unable to handle matters as America tinkered on the brink of civil war. Aside from sending a successful telegraph to Queen Victoria over the Atlantic, Buchanan was a miserable failure as President of the United States.
The second man with the thin resume was Abraham Lincoln. That’s right. Abraham Lincoln was a defeated politico with little experience who won the White House out of the blue and had to sneak into Washington to take his job due to fear of assassins. Lincoln went on to have extraordinary vision and judgment that provided the leadership that saved the very essence of the United States.
I do not contend that either Palin or Obama are like Lincoln. I only offer the historic perspective so we can take a deep breath and think about what our society is. Suppose a tall, rural, ugly fellow with little experience but true principles tried to run for President today. That guy would be attacked viciously by the press. They would laugh at his rail splitting past and scoff at his experience as a rural lawyer and storekeeper. If Buchanan were to face Lincoln in today’s press, Buchanan, the experienced pol, who some even think might have been gay, would get the good press. The rube Lincoln would be summarily dismissed.
Afterall, who wants some backcountry rube with good ideas but has no looks and metropolitan charms being on the news networks everyday for four years? In our current age, we seem to choose Presidents and Vice Presidents for the dumbest of reasons. Our press is more worried about what their sisters or brother in laws did than what their ideas are. Our press seems to care more about what some movie star has to say than what our candidates say.
It is insane in so many ways. And, we sit around and wonder why we are getting our butts kicked in global business competition. It is simple to understand. We are a lazy society now that relies upon the media to spoon feed us melodramatic tidbits about candidates for office. We are more concerned about Sarah Palin’s daughter than Barack Obama’s policies.
Just think that in 1860, America was so guided by such a media and culture. President Buchanan, with huge positive numbers, would have likely decided to run for re-election. In such a case, with todays media behind him, he would have defeated that Republican rube Lincoln. The United States would likely be just a ban of states in the north. North America would have gone the way of South America, just a bastion of tinhorn nations.
Today’s times are in some ways as trying as 1860. What scares me is that the media and culture fight so hard to espouse the defeatist point of view of Buchanan. We in America seem to crave the guy who pleases the media, not the guy who can lead us through these times to remain great.
I just keep coming back to how some “inexperienced rube” who ran on a national ticket as a Republican would have no chance in today’s media. We are at a point in our history in which we need another Lincoln The problem is, our media and culture would never allow another Lincoln to be elected.