Monday, March 10, 2008

Is an experienced President the same as a good President?

Now, what about the experience of that fellow from Illinois?

According to Votemaster:
...Suppose you had to choose between two Presidential candidates, one of whom had spent 20 years in Congress plus had considerable other relevant experience and the other of whom had about half a dozen years in the Illinois state legislature and 2 years in Congress. Which one do you think would make a better President? If you chose #1, congratulations, you picked James Buchanan over Abraham Lincoln. Your pick disagrees with that of most historians, who see Lincoln as the greatest President ever and Buchanan as the second worst ever, better only than Warren "Teapot Dome" Harding. Both served in what was probably the most difficult period in American history, where slavery and secession tore the nation asunder.

Before becoming President, Buchanan had served 6 years in the Pennsylvania state legislature, 10 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, 4 years as ambassador to Russia, 10 years in the Senate, 4 years as Secretary of State, and 4 years as Ambassador to England. Talk about experience, Buchanan did just about everything except serve on the Supreme Court, a job he was offered by President Polk and refused. Yet by any measure, he wasn't up to the job as President. In contrast, Abraham Lincoln served 8 years in the Illinois legislature and one term in the U.S. House (1847-1849), a decade before becoming President. The rest of the time he was a lawyer in private practice, a bit thin one might say.


Transient and Permanent said...

This is a pretty specious argument. No one ever had to choose between Buchanan and Lincoln. They did not run against each other for president and belonged to opposing parties. Thus the main difference between them was not their experience but their radically different politics and separate special interests they served.

Meanwhile, Clinton and Obama are running against each other--not for president, but for the nomination of the same party. Their voting records are nearly identical, they want the same things for the country, and they each draw on overlapping supporting demographics. That means the thing that most defines them against each other is exactly experience, the thing that is a total red herring in the Buchanan-Lincoln example.

Whatever Obamaniac put this pseudohistory together needs to be sent back to school. Then again, with No Child Left Behind we can hardly fault Americans if their sense of our own history is as shoddy as this.

P.S.: Buchanan is the third worst president, not the second. Bush Jr. trumps Harding any day.

Comrade Kevin said...

However, The Republican party as an entity did not exist until Lincoln.

While Buchanan and Lincoln did not run against each other, and you are correct in stating thus, they were both of different parties, but one of which did not exist when Buchanan was elected in 1856.

Lincoln and the Republicans won specifically because the Democratic party split into two sections, one pro-slavery, another anti-slavery, and within the pro-slavery vote, that split into a third separate party.

And that sounds like what year, again?