The Credibility Canard
How about legislative experience? Some say legislators don’t make great executives, as the president himself is currently proving. But spending time in Congress does expose candidates to a broad range of issues and policy choices. President Obama can claim three terms in the Illinois state Senate and two-thirds of a U.S. Senate term, but he still falls well short of former Senator Rick Santorum’s sixteen years as a member of Congress from Pennsylvania, with two terms each in the House and Senate. Former Speaker of the House New Gingrich served 20 years as a Georgia congressman, although his recent troubles suggest that may be the closest he ever gets to the White House. From a pure longevity standpoint, Ron Paul’s 32 years in the House bests them all.
It is evident that on every level of experience and preparation for the presidency, the current early crop of Republican challengers each individually has far more experience than President Obama could have dreamed to possess when he announced his candidacy four years ago. In fact, the only experience Obama can claim that his competitors cannot is in actually being president. Given his record and the mood of the electorate, however, that particular qualification is not likely to be much of an advantage next year.
It is for this very reason that media poobahs are busily pooh-poohing the Republican field. Of course, no Republican could ever hope to be media-certified as worthy to challenge a sitting Democratic president. That the scrutiny has started this early is a good measure of just how much trouble those poobahs think Obama’s nascent reelection campaign is in.