And the worm turns…
Look back at the presidential campaign of 2008. Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden strongly criticized young, first term U.S. Senator Barack Obama for his lack of experience. He won’t be ready on “day one,” said Clinton. Republican nominee John McCain agreed and used Clinton’s and Biden’s remarks in television ads. All to no avail, as we know. The inexperienced senator won the Democratic nomination and the presidency.
Jump ahead to the present. Who are the acknowledged frontrunners for the GOP nomination in 2016? Two are young, first- term senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas.
Obama was age 44 three years out from his election as president. Rubio and Cruz are 42. Obama’s résumé was mainly political when he ran. The same goes for Rubio and Cruz. Part of Obama’s appeal was that he would be our first black president. Rubio or Cruz would be our first Hispanic president.
This comparison comes to mind as we watch Obama stumble and bumble through the Syrian chemical weapons crisis. After he stumbled and bumbled through the Egyptian crisis. As America loses its sway, many say, with its international allies. As malicious gridlock persists between the White House and the House of Representatives. As the economic “recovery” lurches along.
This is what we get for electing an inexperienced president, my nicer Republican friends say. The others say harsher things.
So, if there is a lesson to be learned here, does it, should it apply to similarly inexperienced Republicans?
Logic says yes. Political spin says no.
Experienced John McCain lost in 2008. Experienced Mitt Romney lost in 2012. Republicans want to win in 2016, and if it takes inexperienced, heritage appealing candidates to do so, well, the Democrats started it.
We all need to recognize that we live in two parallel worlds today – the real world, with its real opportunities, challenges, and catastrophes, and the political world, where only two things matter, winning the day in the media (traditional and social) and winning the next election. The gulf between the two worlds seems to grow wider each year.
Perhaps that’s why Obama struggles so. His talents lie in the political world, not so much the real world.
Can the same be said for Rubio and Cruz? Cruz certainly seems to be a talented talker and media manipulator. But, his demeanor with his Republican colleagues in the Senate raises questions about his real leadership ability.
Rubio clearly plays well in the media, but did exhibit real world leadership in helping forge the Senate’s pragmatic immigration bill.
He seems to be regretting that, though, due to flak from the political world.
Lessons from the real world seem to mean little in today’s political world.
BILL CRAWFORD (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a syndicated columnist from Meridian.