When my wife and I found out we were going to have our first child (we now have four), we did what many couples in that situation do. We started to read books about raising children. (Okay, mostly my wife read them and told me what they said…) It’s natural to do that. No new parent wants to go into it without any information.
However, until you have a child, you don’t have a clue! You can read all the research available, write all kinds of papers about it, and ask everybody you know for advice. But all parents know that research without experience is very limited. Until you’ve started raising a child, you really don’t know anything about it.
During the presidential campaign of 2008, many of us were saying that then Senator Obama didn’t have the experience to be President. He had never run a business. He had spent his entire (short) adult life being either a law school professor, a “community organizer” or a politician. The position of professor is the closest to real world experience, but the life of a professor is basically sheltered. Even as a professor, he had never published any legal scholarly material, which is what law school professors are supposed to do. So the argument was that he had never really done anything to give him any experience. Fortunately for him, he was running against an opponent who had spent most of his adult life (after his more-than-honorable service in the military) in political life. Again, not exactly a role that lends itself to gaining real world experience.
Fast forward to the current campaign. The argument about lack of experience is still a strong one. President Obama’s dilemma this time around, however, is that he’s running against an opponent who has spent most of his adult life IN the real world, running businesses (some successful and some not). While he may be wealthy now, there’s a reason for that, and it’s called success. He’s been a major risk-taker, and he has reaped the benefits of many of those risks. There was a time in our country’s history when such success was admired, appreciated, and imitated. In today’s political climate, such success is ridiculed, hated, taxed into oblivion, and otherwise scorned.
After Obama’s terrible performance at the first debate, the excuses were numerous. It was his anniversary. Romney cheated (with a handkerchief). Romney was too aggressive. The moderator was terrible. Romney lied. Or my personal favorite – the altitude affected Obama. (Thanks, Mr. Gore for that nugget.)
But one of the primary excuses given is that Obama didn’t have enough prep time. That’s where I think we may be onto something. Some Democrats and people in Obama’s inner circle have been saying he just didn’t have the time to put into preparing, because he was busy being President. I think they’re partially right.
Obama didn’t have the proper prep time, but not because he’s currently the President. It’s because he failed to prepare his entire adult life for this. Romney has been out in the world learning about business, seeing how things operate, running the Olympics, being Governor of a state, saving numerous corporations, worrying about employee payrolls, and otherwise being engaged in the private sector. THAT was his prep time. When he was asked questions about the economy, he could answer them, not because he spent a few days in Denver in advance of the debate, but because he spent a few decades working in the economic world.
You see, experience DOES matter. Ask any parent. Books are one thing. Life is another. I’m not sure that more debate prep can help Obama in advance of debates two and three, because you can’t cram life experience into a few days.