Experience called poor predictor of presidential success





Many undecided voters have a common concern when they size up Barack Obama: his inexperience.

"I have nothing against Obama. I just think John McCain has more experience," said Steve Viernacki, an Ashley, Pa., restaurant owner.

Experts say that such worries are overblown.

"Experience matters, but its importance is terribly overstated," said historian Robert Dallek, the author of recent books about Presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon.

Presidents with sterling resumes often have turned out to be busts, usually because they lacked the key quality a good president needs: sound judgment.

"John Quincy Adams understood the world, but he didn't have a political gene in his makeup," Richard Norton Smith, a presidential scholar at George Mason University, in Fairfax, Va., said of the nation's sixth president, who isn't remembered as successful.

Yet presidents with far lesser credentials have triumphed. John F. Kennedy was 43 years old when he took office in 1961, four years younger than Obama. Kennedy's early years were rocky, Dallek said, but "he was a quick learner" and his third and final year as president was masterful.



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James W Loewen - 8/1/2008

What was masterful about JFK's third year? Certainly nothing about civil rights. Nothing about American Indian policy. Nothing about school desegregation. Nothing about Vietnam. Nothing about....
He did get killed in it. That did increase his reputation a thousand fold. Otherwise, JFK is not a poster boy for lack of experience. For that matter, he HAD some experience. A silly article.

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