Friday, February 01, 2008

Will the real executive please stand up?

It has been 48 years since a sitting Senator has been elected President. Since then, each and every President has either been a former Governor or Vice President.

Our current President, George W. Bush was governor of Texas.
The Presumptive First Lady Elect, Bill Clinton, was governor of Arkansas.
George HW Bush was VP under the great Ronald Reagan for eight years.
Obama's hero, Ronald Reagan was governor of California.
The Hapless Jimmy Carter was governor of Georgia.
Ford (who was never elected President or VP) was appointed Nixon's VP.
Nixon was VP under Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Johnson was VP under Kennedy.
That takes us back to 1960 when JFK, sitting Senator from Taxachusetts, was voted President.

There is a good reason for this clear preference of the voter.

Governors, Presidents, and Vice Presidents are part of the Executive branch of government, while Senators are Legislators. Congress sets budgets and makes laws, while Governors and Presidents run the government. The two skill sets are very different, and it is hard to know how much value experience as a legislator has in being an executive.

So you think that the public likes Legislators better than Executives? The media loves to discuss how unpopular the President is right now, but George Bush beats the approve/disapprove spread of Congress by twenty points.

So, which of the front runners in the current election has executive experience?

Hillary has seven years experience as a carpetbagging Senator from New York. She will surely try to claim that she should get credit for riding the coat-tails of her husband into the Arkansas Governor's Mansion and then on to the White House. By that criteria, Laura Bush ought to be equally qualified to be our next President. Ah, but Hillary was actively involved in policy-making during Clinton's term, you know, White Water, the health care debacle, Vince Foster, and so on. She was, in effect, co-president. If that were really true, the Constitutional term limit ought to exclude Hillary from being elected again. And if Hillary wants us to consider her accomplishments as co-president, she needs to release the records of what she did in that position. Doesn't it only stand to reason that if she wants credit for the experience she claims, we ought to be able to scrutinize her record and determine if it demonstrates the kind of leadership we want in a President? Every other candidate's record is public. Shouldn't she be eager to let us marvel at the brilliance of her tenure as First Lady? She has been asked to provide those records, and claimed that they are sealed in the National Archives until 2012. It turns out that when Bill Clinton was busy packing up the silverware, pardoning hundreds of convicted felons, and otherwise preparing to vacate the White House, he appointed two people to handle the archiving of the records from his term, including those relating to Hillary. Those two people put the records into the National Archive with instructions to not release them until 2012. Those two people were Hillary Clinton and Sandy Berger. Maybe the records are in Hillary's underpants.

B. Hussein Obama can't even claim proximity to executive experience. He has been a legislator, serving three years in the US Senate and eight years in the Illinois State Senate. He makes Hillary's padded resume look robust. He will surely try to spin his lack of experience into a positive, presenting himself as "a new, fresh face." But in the long, brutal battle to the White House, being able to point to experience of actually running something would be a tremendous advantage, and he just doesn't have it. Name just one major accomplishment. Can't do it, huh?

John McCain has served twice as long in the US Congress as Hillary and Obama combined. Compared to either of them, he is a heavyweight. The voters might like McCain’s record on national security, or Hillary's health care proposal, or Obama's oratory prowess, but not a one of them has any record running anything.

Then there is Mitt Romney. All his life he has been running things. He is most often noted as the governor of Massachusetts, where he turned a $3 billion deficit into a $700 million surplus, primarily by cutting spending. After the unrestrained spending of Bush and Clinton, this is a real positive. While Obama was experimenting with drugs at his high school in Hawaii, Romney was Vice President of Bain & Company, a management consulting firm in Boston. Romney left that position to co-found Bain Capital, a private equity investment firm which he ran for 14 years. During that time, the internal rate of return on realized investments of his company was an astonishing 114%. Warren Buffet is turning green with envy. Meanwhile, Bain & Company was floundering in his absence. They brought him back, and he turned the company around dramatically, returning it from the brink of financial collapse to profitability in one year without resorting to layoffs. Romney served as President and CEO of the 2002 Olympic Games. When Romney took this position in 1999, the event was running $379 million short of its revenue benchmark, plagued by corruption, and facing a scaleback due to lack of funds. During his term, the Games faced additional challenges due to security concerns arising from the 9/11 attacks, just months before the event. In spite of the initial fiscal shortfall and these increased security costs, the Games ended up with a $100 million profit. Romney donated his $825 thousand salary to charity. Romney has repeatedly demonstrated his ability to run things, which is the most crucial skill for a President. This sets him apart from the rest of the field, and clearly makes him not only the candidate with the best ideas and policy positions, but the candidate with the best qualifications for the job.

McCain, reverting to his habit of adopting the rhetoric of the left, uses anti-business slurs to criticize Romney as "managing for profit." Senator, don't you realize that America is great because people actually produce things and make a profit, not just sit around and pass bills?

No comments: