Oratory vs. Experience

Abraham Lincoln’s experience before he was elected President at age 51 in 1860 was limited to serving one term in the House of Representatives (which technically lasted only 15 months, because the 13th Congress didn’t hold its first session until December 1847, well over a year after Lincoln’s August 1846 election) and eight years in the Illinois legislature.

John F. Kennedy, 100 years later, was a Senator for eight years and a member of the House of Representatives for six before becoming President at age 43.

Both were inspiring speakers.

Barack Obama, age 46 (he turns 47 in August), has been a Senator for three years and counting and served almost eight years in the Illinois legislature.

Kennedy’s got him on elected experience. Lincoln, not so much. Obama will split the difference in age this November. Beside the relative youth, he’s got something else in common with these two giants.

He is the most inspiring speaker I have listened to in my lifetime. I’d say he’s better than Reagan.

That ability to speak equals an ability to inspire. And if you can inspire, you can lead like no other. Even Reagan did this in the awful (in retrospect) ’80s.

Setting aside Hillary’s dubious claims of having way more experience than Obama (she’s served in the Senate four years longer, and that’s all I’ll give her), I view the ability to inspire as a greater quality than having any level of greater experience.

That’s not to say an abject lack of experience trumps oratory ability.

But if you cannot get people to follow you, to be inspired by you actions and words, then all the experience in the world won’t make you a great executive leader. Bob Dole had decades of experience, but that did not make him a great presidential candidate, certainly not enough to unseat President Bill Clinton in 1996. John McCain is a great leader in the Senate, with decades of experience, too, but he doesn’t have the inspirational qualities to be a great executive.

And for all of Hillary’s laudable accomplishments in the Senate and for sitting as First Lady, she’s inspiring to bitter Baby Boomers (men and women) and provokes as much invective in nearly everyone else.

It’s amazing that a person who spent seven years in the Senate building alliances and allegiances with cohorts on both sides of the aisle can throw that all away in just a few short months by reverting to the Clintonian divisiveness.


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