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Monday, February 18, 2008

The myth of "experience" and the worth of words...

I've lost count of the number of people complaining that Barack Obama "doesn't have enough experience" to become President. Dick Cheney is the most experienced person in the Bush administration. If that fact is not by itself enough to ratify Obama's candidacy, consider the following. The best presidents in U.S. history have all been "inexperienced" in the sense people are complaining about now. Lincoln, for example, and both Roosevelts, and John F. Kennedy, to name most of them. Another example: Martin Luther King, Jr. He was an inexperienced 27 year-old new PhD when he answered the invitation to go to Montgomery Alabama. But he had what the men listed above who became presidents also had: words. Words, and minds to forge them. We've endured and suffered at the hands of "experience." We've prevailed and triumphed as a people when some among us have found the words to embody our powers and invoke possibilities. Over the past 40 years we have suffered such a dearth of thoughtful words from the realm of our politics that some people still idolize a simpleton like Ronald Reagan, who was nearly as uninitelligent and ideologically rigid as the present occupant of the White House, but could act. All he could do was deliver a script convincingly. It's a measure of the transcendent importance of words that some degree of elevation can be produced even by competent acting. How much better, though, to have the opportunity to elect someone actually competent to think and to speak well? We're fortunate that the times have produced Barack Obama.

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