Buy My Book Here

Fox News Ticker

Please check out my new books, "Bullied to Death: Chris Mackney's Kafkaesque Divorce and Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and the World's Last Custody Trial"

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Experience Trap

The last hand of the 1998 World Series of Poker was one of the most exciting and famous of all time. The board showed two nine's flipped first followed by three straight eights. At the time, the rules of the WSOP were rather lax and so Scotty Nguyen held a cigarette in one hand and a beer in the other. He went all in and because he had more chips than his opponent, Kevin McBride, he was putting McBride all in if he called. What the world didn't know yet, but would soon, was that Scotty held a nine in his hand. As soon as he went all in, Nguyen, in his most condescending and arrogant voice, began taunting McBride

You call this one, it's gonna be all over, baby

Over and over, Nguyen repeated

You call this one, it's gonna be all over, baby

Scotty was reeling in McBride and McBride took the bait. McBride just couldn't believe Scotty was doing anything but bluffing in that situation and said so afterwards. McBride called. Nguyen flipped over the third nine and Scotty Nguyen was the 1998 World Series of Poker Champion (along with 1 million dollars richer, though McBride could heal his wounded pride with a cool $687,000)

I keep thinking of this great moment in poker when I witness the raging debate over the experience and qualifications of Sarah Palin. To me, there is a great metaphor between what Scotty Nguyen did in reeling in McBride and the way the Republicans have reeled in Barack Obama into a debate over his own experience by choosing Sarah Palin. I keep seeing the Republicans taunting Obama with

Bring up her experience, and it's gonna be all over, baby!!

In fact, the Republicans, along with most of the Conservative press, has been frustrated all campaign by the lack of coverage that the perceived, at least according to the Republicans and their allies, inexperience, qualifications, and accomplisments of Barack Obama has received. We've seen scant attention to his plethora of present votes in the Illinois Senate. Little attention has been paid to his ties to the corrupt political machine in Chicago, Cook County, and Springfield. There has been scant attention to his voting record in which he votes with his party 97% of the time. Conservatives have been chomping at the bit to tie his community organizing days to ACORN, the far left, corrupt, quasi Marxist group.

Yet, as soon as Obama and his Democratic allies attacked Sarah Palin, that is exactly what happened. That's because the Republicans counter, from the beginning, has been to compare her record, experience, and accomplishment not to her VP counterpart, Joe Biden, but to Obama himself. The Obama campaign took the bait immediately when his spokesman Bill Burton said this.

Today, John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency. Governor Palin shares John McCain's commitment to overturning Roe v. Wade, the agenda of Big Oil and continuing George Bush's failed economic policies -- that's not the change we need, it's just more of the same.

Obama himself has been known to minimize her record and experience like when he said this.

Well, you know, my understanding is, is that Governor Palin's town of Wasilla has, I think, 50 employees. We have got 2,500 in this campaign. I think their budget is maybe $12 million a year. You know, we have a budget of about three times that just for the month.

So, I think that our ability to manage large systems and to execute, I think, has been made clear over the last couple of years. And, certainly, in terms of the legislation that I passed just dealing with this issue post-Katrina of how we handle emergency management, the fact that many of my recommendations were adopted and are being put in place as we speak, I think, indicates the degree to which we can provide the kinds of support and good service that the American people expect.

The problem for the Obama campaign is that every time they question Palin's record, the Republicans counter by questioning his own and comparing the two. The most famous exchange involves this one with Newt Gingrich.

(excuse the partisan intro it's the only short video available of the exchange) While this is the most famous, this is the sort of counter attack each and every Republican and conservative commentator takes each and every time Palin's record and experience are attacked.

Here's what we are finding out. First, her record matches up just fine when compared to Obama's. At one point, Barack Obama defended his time as a "community organizer" by pointing out that he was also a law professor and a State Senator as if those two roles make him qualified for the highest office in the land. The Obama campaign points to two obscure laws, a nuclear non proliferation bill and ethics and lobbying reforms, as some sort of proof that his record isn't as bare as his opponents claim. These laws are obscure because they are largely ceremonial. There is little teeth to either. For proof that the "nuclear non proliferation bill' is irrelevant just think about how much Iran, Russia, India and Pakistan have "non proliferated their nuclear weapons program" since it was passed. Of course, as Obama has defended his time as a community organizer, the media has begun to zero in on his relationship to ACORN (Obama, community organizer, ACORN results have exploded as a result)

As for Sarah Palin, the Democrats have been able to uncover that Palin actually first supported the bridge to nowhere while she ran for office and then changed her mind as governor. The Democrats immediately mocked this as being for it before she was against it. They seem to forget that the reason this stuck to John Kerry is because he had a reputation for flip flops, a reputation Sarah Palin doesn't have.

While she was mayor, she hired a lobbying firm to attempt to apply to receive about 26 million in earmarks. Obama pounced on this.

Well, how about Gov. Palin? She’s you know, an up and comer from Alaska.
She - they’re starting to run an ad now saying she opposed the bridge to
nowhere. Well now, let’s get the facts clear here. When she was mayor, she hired
a Washington lobbyist to get earmarks - pork barrel spending - all the things
that John McCain says is bad, she lobbied to get! And got a whole lot of it.
When it came to the bridge to nowhere, she was for it until everybody started
raising a fuss about it and she started running for governor and then suddenly
she was against it!

You remember that? For it before you were against it? I mean you can’t just
make stuff up. You can’t just recreate yourself. You can’t just reinvent
yourself. The American people aren’t stupid

Like every other attack, the Republicans countered by attacking Obama's own record and the Republicans countered.

Barack Obama has requested the equivalent of one million dollars in new pork barrel spending for every working day he’s been in the U.S Senate, while John McCain has never once asked for an earmark, and Governor Palin has vetoed hundreds of millions in government spending including killing the infamous “bridge to nowhere”. Just like so many other issues Barack Obama is all talk, has no record to back it up and isn’t ready to make change. — Tucker Bounds, spokesman McCain-Palin 2008

On and on it goes, and yet, each and every attack on Palin's record is countered by an attack on Obama's record. Here's why that will always be a winner for the Republicans. When one party is comparing the record and accomplishments of their VP candidate to the other party's Presidential candidate, the first party will win each and every time.

The Republicans have accomplished something else. John McCain attacks Obama. Sarah Palin attacks Obama. Obama defends himself and then he attacks Palin. Lost in the shuffle are any attacks on John McCain. By taking the bait on a debate over experience, qualifications and record, the Obama campaign ceded a point obvious to everyone. John McCain is significantly more experienced, qualified and accomplished than Barack Obama. This point was always obvious and never really debated. It was however minimized when Barack Obama made the campaign about change. Once he took the bait and attacked Palin's qualifications, it was his own campaign that made experience more of an issue. Since McCain's experience and qualifications are beyond question, he comes out of this debate totally unscathed.

It is rather ironic. Pundits who consider themselves in the know like Charles Krauthammer, Bill O'Reilly, and nearly every single liberal commentator immediately opined that the choice of Sarah Palin would take the issue of experience off the table. They all couldn't have been more wrong. Never has the issue of experience been more front and center than after the choice of Sarah Palin. That's because just like Scotty Nguyen, the Republicans set the trap for the Democrats

bring up her experience and it's all over, baby!!

and just like Kevin McBride the Democrats took the bait.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Bingo, and now Palin will attack the do nothing Congress because she is not part of it. What will be Obama's response.