Change vs Experience - Lets Talk About It

With less than 2 months to go the themes are set by the Obama team and the McCain team. Both camps are going with the theme of change. This is a change election and a historic election no matter which side wins.

I define a change election as one in which there is not a President or VP running for either party. This is rare in American politics. The only two examples I can think of are 1928 when Republicans Herbert Hoover/Charles Curtis defeated Democrats Al Smith/Joe Robinson, and 1952 when Republicans Ike Eisenhower/Dick Nixon defeated Democrats Adlai Stevenson/John Sparkman. I am definitely at ease with the prospects of Republican winning a change election Presidency.

Now for some of the nervous nellys who are troubled greatly with the experience issue in this race I suggest you look at history to discover how change has trumped experience in many elections. Let me run down the list:

1960 The change team of Kennedy/Johnson beat the experience team of Nixon/Lodge

1976 The change team of Carter/Mondale beat the experience team of Ford/Dole

1980 The change team of Reagan/Bush beat the experience team of Carter/Mondale

1992 The change team of Clinton/Gore beat the experience team of Bush/Quayle

2000 the change team of Bush/Cheney beat the experience team of Gore/Lieberman

These are 5 examples when having Presidential or Vice-Presidential experience are not a winning combination.

I know that some define experience as the amount of time one has appeared on Sunday morning talk shows, and I reject this definition. One is not experienced because he talks about being President or VP. One who is or has been the President or VP is my definition of someone who is experienced.

The Obama camp has a different change theme than the McCain camp’s theme. From the very beginning a year and a half ago the Obama team decided to run against Pres. Bush.

Gerard Baker describes and comments on this theme:

But by far the clearest sign of how backward-looking this progressive party has become was its attempt to make the 2008 election a rerun of the elections of 2000 and 2004, when George W. Bush was the Republican nominee.

And yet I suspect that the charge that Senator McCain is running for the third Bush term will not, in the end, stick. The Arizona senator is not George Bush, and Democrats, and I suspect voters, know that.

On the big issues that will confront the next president, in fact Senator McCain offered a sharply divergent approach. When President Bush was fiddling two years ago as Iraq burnt, Senator McCain was urging a change of strategy, one that has now borne fruit for the US. While President Bush was gazing into Valdimir Putin’s eyes and seeing the purity of his soul, Senator McCain was giving warning of the dangers of a resurgent and authoritarian Russia. While the President was cementing a governing style that emphasised maximal partisanship, Senator McCain was building bipartisan coalitions with Democrats in Congress.

Michael Barone describes and comments on the McCain camp theme:

The Republican convention’s premise is that McCain is the maverick reformer — an American version of Nicolas Sarkozy, who replaced an unpopular president of his own party. There is plenty in McCain’s record to back that up. Not least is his selection of Sarah Palin for vice president. Palin’s record of successfully battling establishment Republicans and oil companies in Alaska clearly appealed to McCain.

And that was amplified by the mainstream media attacks on her. Now the media, which were not alarmed by Obama’s thin record, is worried about Palin being a heartbeat away from the presidency. Other women who were stay-at-home moms for years and then emerged into public life have outperformed their resumes — namely, Katharine Graham, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Madeleine Albright, Nancy Pelosi and Geraldine Ferraro. Palin, who has negotiated a natural gas pipeline with the oil companies and Canadian federal, provincial and Inuit authorities, may do so, too. We’ll see if that argument is sustainable.

The way that I would put the themes of the two camps is this way.

The McCain camp wants to win, and when they arrive in Washington they want to drain the swamp. They really don’t care if the lobbyists are Democrats or Republicans as long as those lobbyists are powerless and lonely.

The Obama camp wants to win, and when they arrive in Washington they want to make the swamp larger. They also want to repopulate this larger swamp with Democratic lobbyists with the money to keep them in power.

Some things that packaged under the theme of change are not really anything new. Obama’s economic plan has been tried before – when Herbert Hoover was President.

Amity Shlaes wrote an article at Bloomberg.com in which she recalls:

Yet in the dark days of 1932, with unemployment at 20 percent, Hoover perversely signed an increase that reversed the multiple cuts by his predecessor, Calvin Coolidge. Hoover increased the top marginal tax rate to 63 percent from 25 percent. The effect was predictable. That tax error has haunted economists ever since.

Yet today it is not Republicans but Democrats who are preparing to replicate it. Obama has suggested a payroll tax increase and an income tax increase; together they would just about offset all the breaks created by Bush. Who’s Hoover now?

I also would like to respond to many conservatives about an aspect of the McCain camp theme of change that makes them wince. Thursday night John McCain said the following in his acceptance speech:

Again and again, I’ve worked with members of both parties to fix problems that need to be fixed.

…Instead of rejecting good ideas because we didn’t think of them first, let’s use the best ideas from both sides.

…I will ask Democrats and Independents to serve with me.

Conservatives wince when they look at people only in the context of the party of which they are a member. John McCain has been around Washington for 25 years, and he has friends and enemies in both of the political parties. Sarah Palin has that similar trait from her political experience in Alaska. This is not a surrender of values to deal with people from both parties.

Gerard Baker wrote a comparison of Barack and Sarah

Record of bipartisan achievementObama: Speaks movingly of the bipartisanship needed to end the destructive politics of “Red America” and “Blue America”, but votes in the Senate as a down-the-line Democrat, with one of the most liberal voting records in congress.

Palin: Ridiculed by liberals such as John Kerry as a crazed, barely human, Dick Cheney-type conservative but worked with Democrats in the state legislature to secure landmark anti-corruption legislation.

Former state Rep. Ethan Berkowitz – a Democrat – said. “Gov. Palin has made her name fighting corruption within her own party, and I was honored when she stepped across party lines and asked me to co-author her ethics white paper.”