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Sleepless in Fulham: Rambling and gambling by David Young
Friday, 26 September 2008
What's the ideal experience to be president?
Topic: Politics

I've had some laughs seeing people criticise Sarah Palin for her alleged unpreparedness for high office. It amuses me because she's got more executive experience than Obama, McCain and Biden. She's a state governor, was a town mayor for six years and chaired the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission for a year. It may not be much, but it's streets ahead of the rest of the field.

It's an unusual election, this one. For the first time since 1952, neither the incumbent President nor the incumbent Vice President is a candidate. What's more, there's isn't a state governor running for the top job. Americans tend to chose governors over senators. Most recent presidents were former governors: Clinton (Arkansas), Carter (Georgia), Reagan (California), Bush Jr. (Texas). That's a pretty mixed bag in terms of actual performance on the job.

So what's the ideal experience for being president? I don't have an answer to that and would like your opinion. Being president requires being commander-in-chief, so you'd think a military background would help. But Ulysses S. Grant won the Civil War for the Union side and yet is not considered one of America's better presidents. He couldn't or wouldn't stop financial corruption. A knowledge of the outside world seems important, but George Bush Sr was director of the CIA and got booted out after one term, partly because he reneged on a promise not to raise taxes. Governors are involved in their state's budget and thus have experience of financial matters, but can be naive or uninformed about the external threats to their nation (Palin only got a passport in 2007, so she could visit US troops in Germany and Kuwait).

What's the right career path? Ideally you should have served in the military, had an overseas posting that required learning about the world outside the US (Ambassador, CIA maybe) and then become a governor with budget responsibility. You should also know a lot about the lawmaking process, ideally through a training in law. But is this remotely possible?

I don't know, but I do know that 'experience' is a dirty word this time round. Watch how Obama tries hard to avoid using it in this hilarious clip (around thirty seconds in):

So where does that leave us? We're supposed to be impressed with Joe Biden's experience. This includes:

1) Defending the Nato bombing campaign in 1999 by declaring on television "Slobodan Milosevic is getting the living hell kicked out of him."

2) Telling a meeting of his staffers just after the 2001 terrorist attacks that to show the Arab (sic) world that the US is not aiming to destroy it: "Seems to me this would be a good time to send, no strings attached, a check for $200 million to Iran."

3) Proposing an unwanted and unrequested proposal for a partition of Iraq into three states, which was completely and utterly rejected by all parties in Iraq and which made him extremely unpopular in the country.

4) Recently informing a television interviewer that: "When the stock market crashed, Franklin Roosevelt got on the television and didn't just talk about the princes of greed," ignoring the fact that the crash happened in 1929 when Herbert Hoover was president and that television was still in its experimental stages.

Words fail me that it's come to this.

_ DY at 6:40 PM BST
Updated: Friday, 26 September 2008 6:44 PM BST
Post Comment | View Comments (7) | Permalink

Monday, 29 September 2008 - 2:33 PM BST

Name: "CB"

Say what you want about Sarah Palin, but a woman who believes the world is less than 10 thousand years old is perfectly qualified to make important decisions by ignoring all evidence and believing what ever she wants. And if anyone questions what she does, she can always say her homophobic, misogymistic, magic man in the sky told her to do it.


A great American thinker in the making.





Monday, 29 September 2008 - 9:20 PM BST

Name: "James Feeny"

Finally, I listen to the words and policies of somebody running for President and I am excited!!!

I just can not disagree with McCain. From his economic policies to his Middle Eastern policies, he is definitely the man for the job.

While watching McCain get the better of Obama is the recent debate, it has just hit home how opposite they both are. I liked the way McCain spoke. You can tell he is a man with passion and a genuine love for his country. Obama sounded more like a lawyer, which is off-putting.

I am a true believer in the free market. I also believe that there should be some control and think that in the US they have got it about right. Obama wants to raise taxes for the rich. One of the beautiful things about low taxes is that it controls government spending. I do not believe that you should drive away businesses, they provide jobs!! Obama is for more government control. There is a very good argument for markets taking care of themselves. I am not sure about the FED. Printing money and artificial low interest rates must lead to problems long-term.

With regard to the Middle East, we MUST not pull out now. America is winning the war there. Pulling out now would have catastrophic results. Iraq would become a country of terrorists, not to mention the terrorist supporting regime, Iran. Speaking of Iran, it is quite apparent that tough actions are needed. I have more faith in McCain with this issue than Obama.

A point which I do not hear get mentioned enough is oil. McCain wants the US to become energy independent. This issue is extremely important. I am sure America has the technology and the will to do so. Then dealing with rogue Middle Eastern countries can be a thing of the past.

Finally, you can’t have anything but respect for this man. His experience in Vietnam, the torture he endured, his mental strength and loyalty to get through that in the way that he did, deserves all the respect in the world. He is an inspiration. How many people in the world or politicians in the UK could do that?

Wednesday, 1 October 2008 - 2:51 PM BST

Name: "CB"

“I am a true believer in the free market. I also believe that there should be some control and think that in the US they have got it about right…………….

There is a very good argument for markets taking care of themselves.”


If ever there was a time in recent memory when these comments simply don’t reflect the current economic climate, then now is it.  The US economy is completely screwed. How they have “got it about right” is a mystery to me. And as for the “markets taking care of themselves,” that’s what they’ve been doing. And look and the mess they’re in. The greed and volatility of the private financial sector is literally crippling thousands of ordinary people all over the world. I wouldn’t trust these clowns with managing a Christmas savings club.





Thursday, 2 October 2008 - 8:27 PM BST

Name: "James Feeny"

I was waiting for this kind of reply, preferably from a communist too.


America is not completely a free market. There are laws (eg to protect the environment). I said I am against the FED printing money, among plenty of other things.


I think there will always be a boom and bust cycle. The question is ‘what is the best system to have?’ Not many sane people nowadays actually believe in socialism or communism. Even the Russians don’t. Free markets have provided prosperity. Free markets tend to lead to political freedom. If we look at China, they will have to adopt a free market. They have a system where they have economic freedom (to a degree) but less political freedom. Authoritarian regimes go hand in hand with socialist systems, but not free market systems. Haven’t you learnt from what happened to the Soviet Union? If China chooses not to go with the free market route they will suffer the same affect as North Korea.  


America is actually a market to invest in. If you are a Chinese person and have a lot of money, you would want to invest in a no risk fund in America. This is because you would have political security. That is a very important point. Free markets tend to lead to political freedom. There are plenty of foreigners who invest in the US. The only thing that would cause them to dump their dollars is if the US prints too much money and engages in inflation which I believe it is doing.


I am not saying that I do not believe in the FED. However, Alan Greenspan made mistakes. In the 1990’s we had a bubble in the stock market. Monetary policy led to inflation. This led to rising asset prices and plenty of bad investments made. Interest rates were then raised and the bubble burst. It happened then in the stock market and now it has happened in the property market. The US actually should have had a recession in 2002. This was due to the 1990’s. Plenty of bad investments were made. These companies going bust should have put America through a recession in 2002. However, this was a bad time for George Bush. Therefore, Alan Greenspan combined the worst spending/tax/monetary policy ever. Policy usually takes a few years to kick in and really have an effect. I am talking about why I am for free markets and less control. Another example is the 1970’s. Those problems were due to the 1960s!! War, sending a man to a moon etc. was all financed by running big government deficits. Therefore in the 1970s we had oil prices shooting right up, weakening of the dollar, gold prices increasing. This was all due to the 1960’s. What we had a few years ago with Bush and Greenspan became even worse than the 60’s, and remember in the 70’s USA was in a much better position than now (worlds wealthiest creditor nation).


Bernanke is obviously a man with a wealth of knowledge. The FEDS’s goals are maximum employment, price stability. I think the lack of understanding of the Great Depression is one of our problems. Price fixing was going on at that time, and is going on now. Wages were not allowed to go down etc. Trying to control prices is socialism. What are people doing? Trying to keep prices up!! How are they doing this? By throwing loads of money in!! Where do they get the money from? They borrow from abroad. This is only a short-term solution. They can only borrow from abroad while foreigners are interested in investing in American assets. America needs a strong dollar. Not money thrown in with some sort of system which drives up inflation and borrowing, further weakening the dollar.


Compare China and India as an example. China has been much more effective than India. There is no economic freedom in India. It is a shame that India is run that way because they have great potential. While there is control in China, it is not to the same extent as India (eg wage controls, price controls etc).


Look at Britain for example. Before Margaret Thatcher, Britain was moving in a socialist direction. Steel industry, roads etc. were nationalized. Margaret Thatcher denationalized them. Since that happened Britain became much more successful.





Monday, 6 October 2008 - 4:54 PM BST

Name: "anonymous"

What a pile of shite!

I've heard of economics, freakonomics, voodoo economics and now we've got googleconomics courtesy of everyone’s favourite anti-semite. Try thinking for yourself rather than copying and pasting articles from websites that share your wacky opinions. Moreover, try staying clear of subjects you don’t understand. I guess that means never opening your mouth, but I fure that’s a relatively small price to pay.

Re: China. China could buy out every single bank in the US and not even suffer a dent in it's finances. This credit crunch really has gone over your head. Greed and incompetence are at the heart of it. You don't need a phd in googleconomics to figure that one out.

Incidentally, the 1970s oil crisis is pretty easy to google  so I'm surprised you didn't bother. Wanna know what caused it? Here's a clue: it wasn't the '1960s'.

DY, Palin isn’t ridiculed because of a lack of experience; she’s ridiculed because she’s as thick as shit and was chosen to shore up the crumbling religious base - a base which you of all people, should have no time for. 

Monday, 6 October 2008 - 5:46 PM BST

Name: "James Feeny"


Please provide the site where I have meant to have got this from!!!!

Monday, 10 November 2008 - 8:05 PM GMT

Name: "anonymous"

James, you would like McCain. What do you now have to say about Obama becoming President you Christian fanatic. 

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