Saturday, February 16, 2008

Senator, You're No Jack Kennedy

"Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy."

Who can forget the late Sen. Lloyd Bentsen's zinger to young Dan Quayle in the 1988 vice presidential debates? Quayle, at age 41, was considered green although he had served three terms in the House and was twice elected to the Senate before George H.W. Bush tapped him as his running mate.

Yet Barack Obama is widely accorded the gravitas of a legitimate contender for the post-9/11 presidency although he not only is no Jack Kennedy, he's no Dan Quayle.

"The reality is that Obama has a lot in common with Harriet Miers," writes blogger John Hawkins. "Yes, he has accomplished a lot in his life compared to most people, just as she had, but she was still completely unqualified for the job she wanted to fill just as Barack Obama is completely unqualified to be President of the United States."

Why the rush to the White House? Why the urgency to run now, without the seasoning that we like to see in the leader of the Free World? Is it just an obey your thirst thing? Is he going to be a green, untested president just because he can? Here again, Hawkins is insightful, in a post entitled "Barack Obama: A Human Hallmark Card for President."

"Barack can't wait around and get some seasoning because in another term or two, his incredibly liberal voting record would make him unelectable," Hawkins writes. "He is, after all, the single most liberal senator in the entire Senate. Do you realize what that means? It means that Ted Kennedy, Dick Durbin, and Chuck Schumer are all to Barack Obama's right."

Is it small-minded or backward-looking or unfair to point out Obama's lack of qualifications for the enormous responsibility he seeks? Well, Ronald Reagan called Bentsen's well-rehearsed J.F.K. remark "a cheap shot."

But Dukakis/Bentsen campaign manager Susan Estrich replied that "when the Republicans call something 'a cheap shot,' you know you've scored a direct hit." That is perhaps not the best guide for one's conscience, but neither is its converse. A point is not invalidated by its protest or dismissal by a self-interested, self-serving partisan.

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