June 8, 2008
One man's experience
By Dick Vander Woude
Even before Barrack Obama locked up the votes to secure the Democratic Party’s nomination the McCain forces started with the experience issue, which was quickly echoed by some of Hillary Clinton’s most ardent supporters. “Three years and a great speech does not a president make,” their rant goes.
Certainly, experience counts. It is important in the development of leadership. But the experience ought to add up to something of value. I recall an education professor of mine, many years ago, who shaped my understanding of the value of experience with a simple comparison. He asked us to consider the value of a teacher with 10 years of experience compared to another teacher who had attained one year of experience, 10 times.
The lesson is clear. Longevity is not experience. Repetition is habit forming, and habits are hard to break. Now apply this view of experience to the candidates' positions on war. McCain is a long-time supporter of Bush’s unprovoked invasion of Iraq. Does his position represent a habit he cannot, or will not, break? This is not a cynical question. McCain announced the surge is over (which it isn’t), and said that it would be all right with him if U.S. troops remained in Iraq for 100 years. Oh? For what purpose?
McCain's recent statements suggest that he has either forgotten that the surge was designed to achieve political accommodation within Iraq, or he wants us to forget so he can continue the Bush administration’s policy of democratic imperialism.
Obama, by contrast, had the wisdom -- gleaned from his experience -- to know this war was wrong and to oppose it from the outset. Obama’s experience is broad, while McCain’s only long. Which experience will best serve our country? Give me experience that represents change I can believe in.
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