Today Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama got into some real elbow-jostling over the economy. Clinton implied that Obama didn’t have her level of experience to manage it, and Obama shot back that he wasn’t sure “exactly what experiences she’s claiming” that she had. Neither, after all, has been Treasury secretary (or even managers of a business of any kind). Which raises a point we’ve been quietly grumbling about for a long time: Neither of them has any experience being president. Not even Hillary, who watched it from close up.
Let’s put it this way. Remember when you were first applying for internships out of college or graduate school, and you’d go somewhere and interview with some lowly manager or HR person? She’d tap her sharpened Dixon Ticonderoga No. 2 Soft pencil, look at your résumé, and say, “I don’t see any secretarial experience here.” And you’d say, “I have my master’s in journalism from Columbia.” And she’d ask, “Have you been an assistant before? Can you manage filing and inventories of office supplies?” And you’d explain, “I graduated from Duke magna cum laude and was an editor at my school paper.” To which they’d reply, “Yeah, but can you photocopy?” At which point you would give up on your lifelong quest to be a journalist and go into marketing where you could make a hell of a lot more money and not have to suffer such fools ever again.
What you wanted desperately to say during that interview was “I’M NOT A JACKASS.” All that company needed was a smart, capable, flexible person who could learn and adapt quickly and make the right decisions under pressure. But because of the nitty-gritty of “experience” questions, that company probably ended up hiring a jackass, who was slowly promoted through the ranks, until one day he lost Citigroup billions of dollars and was fired in disgrace. Anyway, the point being, we get why all the candidates are arguing about “experience,” because we want our president to know what he or she is talking about when faced with serious decisions. But really, we just don’t want a jackass. We want someone smart, capable, and flexible, who can learn and adapt quickly and make the right decisions under pressure. And luckily none of the Democratic front-runners are jackasses. So can we please move on from this topic? Because every time we are reminded of that goddamn HR person, it makes us want to go hunt her down and poke her in the eye with a Dixon Ticonderoga No. 2 Soft pencil. Unsharpened.