When Ted Kennedy first ran for the Senate in 1962, his opponent in the Democratic primary [the equivalent of a general election in MA] – Edward McCormack, state attorney general of Massachusetts and nephew of House Speaker John McCormack [not exactly an outsider himself] – commented during a debate on TV:
“If your name was simply Edward Moore instead of Edward Moore Kennedy, your candidacy would be a joke.”
Can you imagine Sen. McCain turning to Sen. Obama during one of the upcoming debates and making the following comment:
“If you were a WASP, your candidacy would be a joke.”
I can’t either. It would take real skill to deliver that remark without appearing to be racially insensitive. He would of course go on to say that it says great things about our country that someone of color … yada yada yada. Some would be offended of course, but they probably aren’t McCain voters anyways.
The idea would be to highlight Sen. Obama’s lack of significant experience or accomplishments. If he wins, he would become the president with the least elected experience since Dwight Eisenhower [elected 1952]. Generally, Supreme Allied Commander trumps community organizer, so let’s keep going back to find out which previous president had less accomplishments or governmental experience than Barack Obama.
Here we go – Herbert Hoover had never been elected to office before being elected President  – let’s check that bio:
During the time in the early 1920s when legislation was being crafted to authorize a dam on the Colorado River, Herbert Hoover (1874-1964) served as Secretary of Commerce for President Warren Harding. Secretary Hoover drafted the Colorado River Compact. The Compact proposed dividing the Colorado basin into two parts, the upper and lower. Water from the upper basin would supply Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, while the water from the lower basin would be used by Arizona, California, and Nevada. The terms of the compact seemed to quell the complaints of each of the states (with the exception of Arizona.) Hoover was congratulated for his skill and efficiency in handling the matter.A millionaire before age 40, Hoover was admired for his talent as a mining engineer and his administrative skills. During World War I, he distinguished himself as director of the American Relief Committee, a London organization charged with assisting stranded Americans escape war-ravaged Europe. Following that assignment Hoover had similar success as the chairman of the Commission for Relief in Belgium, where he coordinated the distribution of clothing, food, and medical supplies to civilians in France and Belgium. Having gained high marks for his war-time efforts, Hoover gained political prominence in the administrations of Presidents Harding and Coolidge. He served as Commerce Secretary for both men. In 1928, Hoover benefited from Calvin Coolidge’s decision not to run for re-election. Hoover handily defeated Democrat Alfred E. Smith to win the presidency.
Perhaps we were too rash. Relax, we’ll find somebody.
Looks like we may have a chance with Woodrow Wilson [elected 1912] – let’s check that bio:
In 1890 Wilson was appointed professor of jurisprudence and economics at Princeton. These were busy years for the popular teacher, who also devoted his energies to the publication of Division and Reunion (1893) and History of the American People (1902), as well as public lecturing and writing for popular magazines. A frequent theme that emerged at Princeton was his belief in the wisdom of having a strong executive at the helm of the nation. In 1902 he was unanimously elected president of Princeton, the first layman to hold that position.
As a college president, Wilson was an innovator and reformer whose stands eventually wore out his welcome. He was dedicated to the goal of making Princeton an institution of the first rank and fostered instructional reform through the use of “preceptors” — young academics who were assigned to live with the students and to hold discussion sessions related to the class work. Wilson also was successful in updating the university’s curriculum. Wilson’s victories and defeats were widely reported in the New Jersey press, making him a popular figure.
Tiring of butting heads over academic issues, and capitalizing on recent publicity, Wilson accepted the Democratic nomination for governor of New Jersey in the summer of 1910. James “Sugar Jim” Smith held the reins of the state machine and thought the college president would lend an aura of reform to his tarnished party. Wilson won an overwhelming victory in the fall and then quickly divested Smith of any notion that he would be easily manipulated. Smith had anticipated a Senate seat for helping Wilson, but the new governor spearheaded a movement on behalf of another candidate — and won.
Wilson aligned himself with legislative progressives and managed to record major accomplishments in short order. Laws were passed providing for regulation of public utilities, school reform, workmen’s compensation, direct primaries, and later, state antitrust legislation for the formerly permissive New Jersey. These successes made Wilson a national political figure.
Doesn’t seem like a ‘voting-present’ kinda guy. OK, forget Wilson, let’s keep hope alive.
Here’s Chester Arthur’s [elected 1880] bio:
Arthur became principal of North Pownal Academy in North Pownal, Vermont in 1849. He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1854. Arthur commenced practice in New York City. He was one of the attorneys who successfully defended Elizabeth Jennings Graham [black woman], who was tried after being denied seating on a bus due to her race. Arthur also took an active part in the reorganization of the state militia.During the American Civil War, Arthur served as acting quartermaster general of the state in 1861 and was widely praised for his service. He was later commissioned as inspector general, and appointed quartermaster general with the rank of brigadier general and served until 1862. After the war, he resumed the practice of law in New York City. With the help of Arthur’s patron and political boss Roscoe Conkling, Arthur was appointed by President Ulysses Grant as Collector of the Port of New York from 1871 to 1878.
This was an extremely lucrative and powerful position at the time, and several of Arthur’s predecessors had run afoul of the law while serving as collector. Honorable in his personal life and his public career, Arthur sided with the Stalwarts in the Republican Party, which firmly believed in the spoils system even as it was coming under vehement attack from reformers. He insisted upon honest administration of the Customs House but nevertheless staffed it with more employees than it really needed, retaining some for their loyalty as party workers rather than for their skill as public servants.
Sorry, I can’t go against a guy who served his country during the Civil War.
Abraham Lincoln [elected 1860] – this is the one most mentioned as having less or comparable experience to Sen. Obama – but note the variety and depth of his experiences – bio:
Lincoln began his political career in 1832, at age 23, with an unsuccessful campaign for the Illinois General Assembly, as a member of the Whig Party. The centerpiece of his platform was the undertaking of navigational improvements on the Sangamon River. He believed that this would attract steamboat traffic, which would allow the sparsely populated, poorer areas along the river to flourish.He was elected captain of an Illinois militia company drawn from New Salem during the Black Hawk War, and later wrote that he had not had “any such success in life which gave him so much satisfaction.”
For several months, Lincoln ran a small store in New Salem.
In 1834, he won election to the state legislature, and, after coming across the Commentaries on the Laws of England, began to teach himself law. Admitted to the bar in 1837, he moved to Springfield, Illinois, that same year and began to practice law with John T. Stuart. With a reputation as a formidable adversary during cross-examinations and in his closing arguments, Lincoln became one of the most respected and successful lawyers in Illinois and grew steadily more prosperous.
He served four successive terms in the Illinois House of Representatives as a representative from Sangamon County, and became a leader of the Illinois Whig party. In 1837, he made his first protest against slavery in the Illinois House, stating that the institution was “founded on both injustice and bad policy.”
A Whig and an admirer of party leader Henry Clay, Lincoln was elected to a term in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1846. As a freshman House member, he was not a particularly powerful or influential figure. However, he spoke out against the Mexican-American War, which he attributed to President Polk’s desire for “military glory” and challenged the President’s claims regarding the Texas boundary and offered Spot Resolutions, demanding to know on what “spot” on US soil that blood was first split.
By the mid-1850s, Lincoln’s caseload focused largely on the competing transportation interests of river barges and railroads. In one prominent 1851 case, he represented the Alton & Sangamon Railroad in a dispute with a shareholder, James A. Barret. Barret had refused to pay the balance on his pledge to the railroad on the grounds that it had changed its originally planned route. Lincoln argued that as a matter of law a corporation is not bound by its original charter when that charter can be amended in the public interest, that the newer route proposed by Alton & Sangamon was superior and less expensive, and that accordingly, the corporation had a right to sue Barret for his delinquent payment. He won this case, and the decision by the Illinois Supreme Court was eventually cited by several other courts throughout the United States.
Lincoln was involved in more than 5,100 cases in Illinois alone during his 23-year legal career. Though many of these cases involved little more than filing a writ, others were more substantial and quite involved. Lincoln and his partners appeared before the Illinois State Supreme Court more than 400 times.
Lincoln returned to politics in response to the Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854), which expressly repealed the limits on slavery’s extent as determined by the Missouri Compromise (1820). Illinois Democrat Stephen A. Douglas, the most powerful man in the Senate, proposed popular sovereignty as the solution to the slavery impasse, and incorporated it into the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Douglas argued that in a democracy the people should have the right to decide whether or not to allow slavery in their territory, rather than have such a decision imposed on them by Congress.
Drawing on remnants of the old Whig, Free Soil, Liberty and Democratic parties, he was instrumental in forming the new Republican Party. In a stirring campaign, the Republicans carried Illinois in 1854 and elected a senator. Lincoln was the obvious choice, but to keep the new party balanced he allowed the election to go to an ex-Democrat Lyman Trumbull. At the Republican convention in 1856, Lincoln placed second in the contest to become the party’s candidate for Vice-President.
In 1857-58, Douglas broke with President Buchanan, leading to a fight for control of the Democratic Party. Some eastern Republicans even favored the reelection of Douglas in 1858, since he had led the opposition to the Lecompton Constitution, which would have admitted Kansas as a slave state. Accepting the Republican nomination for Senate in 1858, Lincoln delivered his famous speech: “‘A house divided against itself cannot stand.'(Mark 3:25) I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other.” The speech created an evocative image of the danger of disunion caused by the slavery debate, and rallied Republicans across the north.
Don’t be embarrassed that you entertained the thought that they had similar experiences prior to becoming president, just stop watching PMS-NBC. Bottom line, Lincoln really was a great lawyer, not someone who punched that ticket on the resume. Case closed. Onward, Christian [as far as I know] soldiers.
Zachary Taylor [elected 1848] had a 40 year career in the Army and served in various wars – buck up lads, this post has to end soon.
This is getting ugly – from Jackson [elected 1828] through Taylor they all had extensive military and state government experience. The first six are an absolute nightmare for Sen. Obama, founding the nation and all.
Open challenge to Obama supporters; Name one president who had less experience or accomplishment than Sen. Obama will have had if elected in 2008 – with the caveat that experience does not equate to success in the presidency.