Monday, March 31, 2008

If Only Hillary Had More Experience...

Jonathan Alter makes the interesting case that Hillary's best move may be right into the governor's mansion. I agree that it would be nicer than returning to the Senate to face all of her colleagues that she thinks deserted her, but I am not sure how helpful it will actual be to her political career though. In general, I think executive experience is a wonderful thing and is nearly essential for any would be presidential candidate, but Hillary has already run an entire campaign on the experience card and we have all seen how that is working out. It turns out that experience loses out to hope every day of the week. America doesn't care about a candidate's resume or past. They care about what the candidate promises to do in the future. All that the move to Albany will do is add governor to the things that America can ignore. In other words, political experience is the last thing that Hillary needs.


Lang said...

You say that you're not sure how helpful it will be to her career, but its unclear what you mean by this. Are you suggesting it won't help her become president? That I would agree with, if all you are saying is that this wouldn't be an effective means to an end. It might be an end unto itself though - maybe running for governor would be "settling," but its still fairly impressive. Being a twice-elected senator and governor would be a pretty impressive political career, I'm not sure why it needs more "help" than that, as you put it.

As for the experience card, my impression for a while is that the experience card has very steep diminishing marginal returns. If Obama were running straight out of the Illinois legislature, rather than with a modicum of DC experience, no one would take him seriously at all. He's a US senator though, so he has some experience. Clinton has more, and that's pretty universally agreed to that that's a plus in her column over him.

My sense is that going from 0 to say 4 years (what Obama would have if he wins in 08) year in a statewide position (senator or governor) is a huge step up in terms of credibility based on experience. Going from 4 to 8, or 8 to 12, etc. is seen as a step up, but not nearly as impressive and important. Each subsequent period of time is seen as a plus (until you reach the "are they senile" phase), but each is less important than the last.

Garbo said...

Let's also take a look back at American history. Some of our best Presidents have been "experienced" (Truman, Jefferson, and, arguably, Lyndon Johnson) and some have been "inexperienced" (FDR and Lincoln). The same goes for our worst. James Buchanan was a two-term senator, a Supreme Court nominee (he turned it down), Ambassador to Britain, and Secretary of State before becoming President. Warren Harding held elected office than either Obama or Clinton. And, lest we forget, George W. Bush is a two-term governor.