Saturday, July 12, 2008

Picking the next POTUS

Well, the people have spoken. The next POTUS will be a former senator. It will be the first time in 48 years since the President went straight from the senate into the presidency. (JFK was the last to do this. LBJ and Nixon were both senators, but had been vice presidents before becoming president.) There is a book by Andy Stanley called Next Generation Leaders: 5 Essentials for Those Who Will Shape the Future that I believe explains what it takes to be a leader and why we follow those people. It breaks it down into these 5 categories: Competence, Courage, Clarity, Coaching, and Character. I would like to review our candidates through this lens. 1. Competence: This is not only length of service, but your ability to recognize where you are competence and the willingness to delegate to others those things where you are less competent. Barak Obama: Born 8/4/1961. Parents separated when he was 2 years old and eventually divorced. Raised by his grandparents. Graduated High School in 1979.Attend Occidental College for two years, transferred to Columbia University in NY where he graduated in 1983 with a B.A. in political science with a specialization in international relations. After graduation he worked at IBM and New York Public interest group for four years before moving to Chicago to work as a community organizer. Obama was the director of Developing Communities Project (DCP) for 3 years, in which time he grew the organization from a staff of 1 (presumably himself) and a budget of $70,000 in donations to a staff of 13 and $400,000 in donations. In 1988 he traveled to Europe for 3 weeks and Kenya for 5. In Kenya he met many of his relatives for the first time. He returned to the US and entered Harvard Law School where he was elected editor of the law review in his first year. The second year he become president of the Harvard law review. He graduated with a J.D. magna cum laude in 1991 and returned to Chicago where he had been a summer associate for a couple of law firms. Publicity from his election to the first black president of the Harvard Law Review garnered him a contract to write a book about race relations. In fact, the University of Chicago Law School offered him a fellowship and an office to work on his book. The book, originally scheduled to take a year evolved into a memoir. He and Michelle traveled to Bali for several months so he could write in seclusion. The result was, Dream from My Father published in 1995. Obama’s accent into the Illinois Senate comes amid some controversy. The incumbent senator, Alice Palmer, tried and failed to run for the US House of Representatives. But when she tried to mount a campaign for re-election, Obama challenged her (and all of the other candidates) petition signatures. He effectively had every candidate but himself removed from the campaign so that he was the only candidate on the ballot. (see: Barack Obama: Showing his bare knuckles, Chicago Tribune April 4, 2007) His race for the US Senate was rather less dramatic, but no less controversial. In 1998, Peter Fitzgerald became the first republican since the 1940’s to win an open seat in the US Senate, over the very inflammatory Carol Mosley Braun. Fitzgerald decided to serve only one term leaving the Senate seat open. Obama’s main contender Blair Hull eventually succumbed under allegations of domestic abuse. Republicans first choice, former Gov. Jim Edgar, chose not to run. Eventually settling on Jack Ryan a former Wall Street multi-millionaire turned south-side Chicago high school teacher. Unfortunately, he was in the midst of a nasty divorce from actress Jeri Ryan and as it played out in public, his polls plummeted. After dropping out of the race, the GOP tried a futile attempt to run Alan Keyes against Barrack. Needless to say Barrack trounced Keyes. (see: The Road to Congress 2004 pgs 81-83) So that takes care of Barrack’s experience, what about his competence? For that we have to look at his accomplishments and voting record. Let’s look at his voting record objectively, you excluding the liberal/conservative ideology for a minute. He served one full term in the Illinois State Senate. He served 8 years as state Senator and voted “present’ (neither ‘yes’ or ‘no’) 139 times. There are various reasons for doing this some because he was making a political statement in regards to the validity of the legislation. (see: NYT: It’s Not Just ‘Ayes’ and ‘Nays’: Obama’s Votes in Illinois Echo). Elected to the US Senate in 2004, Barack entered the national stage in the run up to the elections by giving an address “Audacity of Hope” at the DNC Convention. He was elected and sworn in to the US Senate on January 4, 2005. He served 140 days in the senate before announcing he was running for POTUS. He appointed several key experienced (30+ years each in Washington) people to his staff. Ironically, he cosponsored the “Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act” introduced by John McCain in 2005. Obama has missed the following number of votes on the chamber floor: 2005:8, 2006:3, 2007:166, 2008(as of 7/7/08): 97. What do you expect of a $165,200? (See: Washington Post Votes Database). Needless to say, I’ve gotten into a lot more detail that I planned on so I’ll have to continue this dissertation at a later date.