Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Is Experience Overhyped as White House Qualifier?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Is Experience Overhyped as White House Qualifier?

Article excerpt

It is customary when a presumed candidate has chosen his running mate to look at historical precedents for the selection. An obvious one is: Who was his closest rival in the primaries?

Sen. John Kerry isn't the first to choose the one who ran closest to him. Ronald Reagan in 1980 chose George Bush, who'd attacked his "voodoo economics." He made the choice in the face of a concerted drive led by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to select ex- President Gerald Ford. Sen. John Kennedy in 1960 chose Sen. Lyndon Johnson, ardently opposed by most Kennedy supporters. Other winning tickets with former rivals were Hoover-Curtis in 1928, and Roosevelt- Garner in 1932.

In choosing Sen. John Edwards, Senator Kerry opted for more charisma and less experience, more South and less Midwest, more youth and less wartime service. But it's likely that the outcome of this election will be driven by events domestic and foreign that are unfathomable at this point.

History teaches that when times are good, a sense of economic security usually ensures the reelection of the incumbent. But this year a sense of economic security remains shaky, and personal and national security have become a possibly deciding factor for many undecided and Independent voters. And if anything is unknowable today, it is how safe we will feel come November.

The massive security preparations for the political conventions in New York and Boston are an indication of the prevailing sense of unease around the country. Iraq remains a question mark. The creation of an interim government has been successfully carried off, but an election must still be held by January against the background of a continuing insurgency.

Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said in a radio interview that if the US pulls off an election in December or January of 2005 as it's trying to do, it will be one of the more monumental occurrences in the Middle East in several hundred years. He's right. And that's why the identity of a running mate makes for interesting dinner conversation but provides little clue to what will happen on Nov. …

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