The Experience of Obama and Palin

It is interesting to examine a time line of the public life of Senator Barack Obama, the top of the Democratic presidential ticket, and Governor Sarah Palin, number two on the Republican ticket.

From 1992 to 1996, Sarah Palin served two terms on the city council of the small town of Wasilla, AK. During the same time, Obama was a lawyer and community organizer in Chicago. The year 1996 was important for both. Palin ran for and was elected mayor of Wasilla, while Obama was elected to the Illinois State Senate.

Palin served as mayor for her two-term limit to 2002 and then ran unsuccessfully for Lieutenant Governor of Alaska. Instead, she ended up serving on the state Ethics Commission and the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.  In 2004, Obama was elected to the US Senate where he has served since. In 2006, Palin was elected Governor of Alaska, overcoming the old-boy Republican establishment in Alaska.

Essentially, we have a young national legislator versus an young state governor. While it is legitimate to argue that a US Senator gains experience considering national issues, a state governor gains executive experience managing a large governmental enterprise. Both are important for a President or Vice-President.

If Obama and Palin were not running for national office now, it would be hard to make a case about whom had greater experience necessary to be the national chief executive. However, over the last year Obama has been running for President. This has not so much increased his legislative experience, but it has given the nation an opportunity to listen to him and assess his seriousness on issues. Is not so much that he has acquired experience, but that the country has grown accustomed to him and in some modest way taken his measure.

While Obama has been campaigning for President, Palin has been running the state government of Alaska. Only Alaskans really have had time and exposure to appreciate her merits and recognize her flaws. By the time the election occurs this fall, we will have had ample opportunity to take the measure of Palin. Is not so much that she will gain experience, but we will grow in our experience of her. In any objective office-holding sense, Obama does not have more experience then Palin and arguable less, rather we have more experience of him. This lack is remedial.

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