Wednesday, July 7, 2004

Speaking of Inexperience

From the War Room:

One of the leading Republican criticisms of John Edwards, high up in the oppo research package almost immediately e-mailed to reporters from the Republican National Committee this morning, is this observation of Edwards’ career path: “Never Held Elective Office, Politics Took Backseat to Legal Career.” That’s an odd criticism coming from people who pretend to abhor Washington insiders, even as they control most of the federal government — but it’s especially strange that Republicans would want to raise the issue of inexperience given who’s on top of their ticket. John Edwards was, as anyone who heard him during the primary season knows, born to a mill worker and the first person in his family to attend college. As a young boy, he wanted to become a lawyer to fight for working people. And he did — a really good one. After his successful career as a trial lawyer, Edwards decided to try his hand at government. (Sounds like the up-by-the-bootstraps, private-sector-success-turned-public-servant stuff of many GOP dreams). Edwards has served a term in the Senate, where he sat on the Senate Intelligence Committee and co-sponsored the Patients’ Bill of Rights with John McCain and Ted Kennedy. But, the RNC says, he has only served about six years in the Senate, so he isn’t qualified to be V.P. This is, perhaps, the definition of chutzpah.

Of course, Bush has quite a bit of experience with “inexperience.” He served about the same amount of time as Texas governor, from 1994-2000, in a state where the executive yields much power to the Legislature, and before that he was a failed oil executive who used profits from the sale of his Harken Energy stock — sold miraculously right before the stock value plummeted, which was the subject of an SEC insider trading investigation — to buy into the Texas Rangers, a deal that made him a multimillionaire. If this man is qualified to be president, we’re pretty sure we can trust John Edwards as No. 2.

I guess the Republican way of thinking is that experience in government and politics only matters if you’re a Democrat.

Oh, and just in case you think the Republicans might have a point in their ad about Kerry going with his “second choice,” check out this piece in The American Prospect about the tempestuous veep selection battle back in 1980. As you’ll recall, Ronald Reagan first approached former President Gerald Ford to run with him. Ford, who recalled how Reagan ran against him in 1976 and blamed for weakening him in the run against Jimmy Carter, turned him down flat. Reagan then turned to his most tenacious primary opponent, George H.W. Bush. But according to the Republicans, that was then, and besides, It’s Okay If You’re A Republican.