The Poet's Eye--Are You Experienced? (first draft)
"But first, are you experienced?
Uh-have you ever been experienced-uh?
Well, I have
(well) I know, I know, you’ll probably scream and cry
That your little world won’t let you go
But who in your measly little world, (-uh)
Are you tryin’ to prove to that you’re
Made out of gold and-uh, can’t be sold
So-uh, are you experienced?"
When John Kerry selected John Edwards as his running mate, the television journalists began dragging out the footage of Kerry bashing Edwards in the primaries for his lack of experience. The baby-faced looks of the vice-presidential candidate compound this image. It's easy to see why the 'youth and inexperience' label sticks to Edwards.
It's hard to say whether Dick Cheney's former experience as an elected official beats that of John Edwards. Cheney was elected as US Congressman from the State of Wyoming (350,000 voters) where even the cows can vote. Edwards was elected Senator from South Carolina where the population is over four million. Perhaps if Edwards installed a bit of grey at his temples he would gain credibility.
If we are going to examine the subject of lack of experience, The Poet's Eye must come to rest on George W. Bush.
After his earlier years as a wannabe playboy and a bad student and an absent National Guardsman, Bush drilled a few dry holes in West Texas as an oilman and then, with Daddy's money and connections, he bought a losing baseball team and miraculously turned it into...(lo and behold) a losing baseball team. You can't call him out on his voting record because he has never voted for or against a single legislative act. The only semi-legitimate credential Bush has to be president is that he was elected Governor of Texas, mainly on his father's name. The only trouble with this entry on the resume is that The Governor of Texas has about as much power and responsibility as a dog catcher.
Anyone that pays attention knows that in the Texas political system (weak Governor system) the real power is wielded by the Lieutenant Governor. Besides a few nominal appointive duties, the office of Governor of Texas is largely ceremonial.
So, maybe being Governor of Texas really was good training for a presidency where the number two man is calling the shots.
The Poet's Eye doesn't see a way for any man to be adequately prepared to be President of the United States. But we can see what the results can be of having a president who is woefully under-prepared, both in intellect and experience, for the job.
Perhaps the most under-qualified president we've ever had was Ulysses S. Grant.
Every time I see a 50 dollar bill I think of the parallels between Bush and U. S. Grant. Unconditional Surrender Grant. Both were miserable failures in their private business careers. Grant couldn't run a dry goods store any better than Bush could drill a dry hole. Both were horribly unqualified to be president.
One visitor the Grant's White House noted "a puzzled pathos, as of a man with a problem before him of which he does not understand the terms." How many times have you seen George Bush in his news conferences with that deer in the headlights look?
In both administrations big business had its way with government oversight and regulation. James Fisk and Jay Gould used their friendship with Grant in an attempt to control the gold market. Bush's buddies are more interested in black gold.
Qualifications for president or vice president have usually been merely that the candidate exhibits admirable character and skills in leadership. If a person has demonstrated this character and leadership in some way, then his credentials should be sound. This is a government by the citizens after all. We have had presidents who were soldiers, cops, actors, college teachers and businessmen before they came into public service. It would not be profitable to our Republic if we grew a governing class of politicians and bureaucrats. Now and then we need a ball player or a talk-show host or a cripple or a haberdasher.
Qualifications for leadership of our country should not include "because my daddy was president." We got into a messy little affair called The Revolutionary War to avoid that sort of thing. In a democracy the leaders come from the populace, not from the ruling family as Bushco and their buddies the Sauds seem to think.
To be president you must be the kind of person who can tread that thin line between representing the will of the people and leading them with a vision of the future. The current dynasty has failed on both counts.
The Poet's Eye has seen eleven presidential elections and never remembers one of them where this country was so divided as it is in this one. Not since the sixties has there been so much unrest. It is not manifest in the streets so much as it was then, but it is rumbling and anyone who can't hear it is deaf.
"We're the people that live. They can't wipe us out. They can't lick us. We'll go on forever, Pa, 'cause we're the people," -- Ma Joad
--from John Ford's film version of Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath