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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Debate Question: Which Presidential Candidate is Most Qualified for the Job?

I try to avoid topics like politics and religion on this blog. However, since embarking on the CNN YouTube Presidential Debate AdWords Experiment, I've been looking at the presidential candidates' web sites lately and something has struck me. I think one of the candidates is more qualified for the job than the rest of the field. However, he's not a frontrunner. Who am I talking about? Bill Richardson. An article from an Iowa newspaper entitled Richardson packs jokes, thick resumé sums it up well:
Richardson might not be the best-known candidate - for now, anyway - but he might have the best credentials. His resumé includes U.S. congressman, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy and governor. He served in Congress under three presidents: Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. He holds bachelor's and master's degrees. He has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
I think what strikes me is the fact that his credentials seem to fit well with what the country needs right now in a leader:
  1. Experience with foreign policy
  2. Experience with energy and conservation issues
  3. Experience as an executive
  4. Experience with immigration issues
While I like the idea of a fresh voice from the likes of Barack Obama and even Ron Paul, I think the country needs a fresh perspective balanced with a strong foundation of experience in these critical areas. Check out the Bill Richardson for President site and let me know what you think. In this era of YouTube debates, perhaps voters are looking too much at how candidates look or sound. Instead, I think we should be examining their credentials.

Update: Came across a fascinating article entitled "Why isn't Bill Richardson's presidential candidacy taken seriously?" which suggests that Richardson does, indeed, have the best credentials of any candidate in the race. However, the author argues that being famous, more so than experienced, is necessary to garner the attention of the media and the public. Here's an excerpt:
Traditionally, Americans have turned to governors to serve as president, thinking that experience in executive office and with complicated managerial tasks outweighs the experience with federal policy issues that members of Congress can count in their favor. Happily, Richardson spent over a decade in the House of Representatives before becoming governor. In between, he was America's ambassador the United Nations, wracking up a level of national security experience that none of the other contenders can match. And did I mention he was also Secretary of Energy? Too bad nobody thinks energy independence and global climate change are important policy areas in which it would be good for the chief executive to have some knowledge...

The point about Richardson is that in many respects he's exactly the sort of person -- a popular governor -- who was taken seriously as a presidential contender in the very recent past. The list is long and familiar -- Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush. The difference is that Richardson is also super-experienced...

In retrospect, however, Bush was less the last of the governor presidents than a transition to the new era in which, to be president, you need to be a famous celebrity. Mayors of New York City are always famous, because the people who run the media live in New York. Hence, Rudy Giuliani is a serious candidate (and even Michael Bloomberg is considered a more serious possibility than he should be). John McCain spent all of 1999, 2000, and 2001 chasing positive press and became famous in the process -- so he's a serious candidate. Barack Obama has an extremely interesting personal story and was one of the only Democratic successes in 2004, so he became famous and now he's a serious candidate. John Edwards got famous running on a national ticket, so he's a serious candidate. Hillary Clinton's husband used to be president (you may have heard), so she's famous and she's a serious candidate. Most absurdly, Mitt Romney happened to preside over the Massachusetts gay marriage controversy, thus becoming famous and, therefore, a serious candidate.
Is Bill Richardson the most qualified candidate for the job? If not, who else is?

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Anonymous charlie porreca said...

Sorry to be disagreeable about "what the country needs right now is a leader with experience in foreign policy, energy, immigration", etc.

Why? I was once a hiring manager for a technology organization, and we needed to fill a technical position. The HR folks said I needed to tell them what experience was required, so they could screen applicants. They had all the buzzwords to pick from, such as experience with TCPIP, OS, IDMS, etc.

My opinion was that I really wanted was a quality person - one with a generalized technical background, but one that could mold him/herself to fit our needs now, and as those needs morphed into other needs. In other words, what I really wanted was a (generally) technical person who was a quick learner, good with customers, recognized how to fill business needs, had a good work ethic, etc.

So, what I really want in my next president is the quality to adapt and manage things as they are during his tenure, regardless of what they may be or become. The qualities I want are things like intelligence, good judgement, adaptability, political acumen, and especially a very high leadership quotient, something we need to keep this country from further dividing it's people.

Over his/her tenure, things such as energy, immigration, and the like will surely be issues, and the president will need to be smart enough and creative enough to deal with them. But other issues, unknown to us right now, will also surface, and we need a leader with the qualities I mentioned to handle them, regardless of what background with which he originally "qualified" for the job.

Wed Aug 08, 10:01:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Richard said...

Thanks for your opinion, Charlie. Which of the candidates meet your criteria?

Wed Aug 08, 12:55:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wouldn't vote for Obama just because of that skank Amber Lee Ettinger. Not a good move letting a skank be your spokesperson.

Wed Aug 08, 05:13:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Richard said...

I'm not sure if obama girl is a help or a hindrance to the Obama campaign.

Thu Aug 09, 02:01:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also believe that the qualifications of second tier candidates are obscured by the attention paid to the front runners. I came to a different conclusion. In my view, Joe Biden has more experience than the other candidates, has a better track record of legislative leadership and exhibits a greater moral clarity than the other candidate - democratic or republican. Unfortunately, that means he is probably unelectable.

Thu Aug 09, 05:05:00 PM EDT  
Blogger David said...

Mitt Romney hands Down

Sat Aug 11, 05:50:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Richard said...

David - Why Mitt Romney? Why is he the most qualified candidate for the job?

Sat Aug 11, 07:21:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the American people want a President who will continue the policies of GW Bush for another 4 years based on the principle that the poor and near poor have too much money and the rich don't have enough and the best solution to any problem
is a tax cut for the wealthy...someone who will reduce the capital gains tax to 3 percent.

Sat Aug 11, 07:53:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ron Paul is the most intelligent and honest candidate by far, just listen to him speak about the Federal Reserve. If you want to bring this country back to the principles upon which it was founded (not to mention the Constitution that people seem to have forgotten), the only choice is Dr. No!

Sat Aug 11, 08:52:00 PM EDT  
Blogger hippo said...

Richard, while I committed to a candidate, I always wish to keep an open mind. We should always be prepared to change our minds when better alternatives suggest themselves. However, while I agree that we need to get out of Iraq, perusal of Richardson's web site offers nothing new. He sounds just like all the rest. Where does he address the damage that has been done to this country by this administration? Where does he address getting rid of the awful Patriot Act? Where does he make comment on the Federal Reserve, which is destroying our monetary system? Where does he discuss adhering to the U.S. Constitution and rolling the Federal Government back to a more manageable size? The answer to the Health Care crisis is NOT more government intervention. Government regulation created this crisis to begin with. There is only one candidate that addresses these issues, and if they are not addressed, then it's just more of the same old stuff. Ron Paul

Sat Aug 11, 11:10:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Richard said...

Hippo, I think you and I are both frustrated by an observation left here by an anonymous commenter:

"I also believe that the qualifications of second tier candidates are obscured by the attention paid to the front runners."

I'd like to see more coverage of both Ron Paul and Bill Richardson in the mainstream media. If news outlets like CNN only talk about a handful of candidates and those candidates get more exposure during the debates, how are the other candidates supposed to have a chance? Why is the media effectively limiting the choices, already, for the public?

I agree, too, that it's important to have an open mind. I certainly haven't made up mine. I'd like to hear more, though, from a candidate like Richardson who seems to have ideal credentials. As I mentioned when I started this Google advertising experiment, I'm currently considering 4 candidates.

Sometimes, I'm intrigued by the fresh ideas put forth by candidates like Ron Paul or Barack Obama. Other times, I'd lean towards a candidate who has a track record of actually implementing ideas in an executive capacity. At those times, I find myself supporting Richardson (a successful governor) or Giulani (a successful mayor). I think both the past records and the future ideas need to be considered.

I do find the attention paid to the "celebrity" candidates a little peculiar. Voting for the presidency shouldn't be a popularity contest. It should be more like a job interview.

One of the biggests jobs the next president will have to deal with is cleaning up the Iraq war mess. Maybe someone nominated numerous times for the Nobel Peace Prize would be up to the task? ;-)

Mon Aug 13, 03:34:00 PM EDT  

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