Don’t forget to see today’s post, which continues this one
Barack Obama served 143 days in the senate and no days in the military before he began his run for president. John McCain served 26 years in the senate and 22 years in the military before he began his campaign. (These numbers are from Roger Kimball’s blog.)
There are some immediate problems with these numbers. The “143 days” came about this way
From the time Barack Obama was sworn in as a United States Senator, to the time he announced he was forming a Presidential exploratory Committee, he logged 143 days of experience in the Senate.
Thatâ€™s how many days the Senate was actually in session and working.
The one single Senate committee that he headed never even met â€” once.
After 143 days of work experience, Obama believed he was ready to be Commander In Chief, Leader of the Free World, and fill the shoes of Abraham Lincoln, FDR, JFK and Ronald Reagan.
But during the 26 years McCain was a senator, the upper house was not in session continually, so to be fair we would have to only count the number of days the senate was actually in session over those years. This is unnecessary, because we all know that government and political business does not stop just because the gavel sounds. Therefore, we should give Obama, just as we are giving McCain, full credit for his time in service, which is to say 3.5 years since his swearing in as a senator in January of 2005. He still gets 0 years (or days) for military service. We also have to, since we gave it to Obama, award McCain his extra half year for the first part of 2008.
Let’s put that in table form for easier comparison:
Which is to say, McCain has about 14 times as much experience as Obama. However, this still isn’t an entirely fair comparison because McCain, who is 26 years older than Obama, has had a greater chance of gaining time on the job. To make the match up commensurable, we have to adjust for age.
Obama has had about 26 years opportunity to gain career knowledge (we don’t count the first 20 years of life for either man). McCain has had 50, or about twice as much time. So let’s redo the table dividing by the total amount of time available, which gives us the fraction of experience to available time. I’ll then multiply by 100 to turn the number into a percentage. We also have to be careful to note that when McCain was serving as a senator, he obviously could not serve in the military, and vice versa. For example, the amount of time McCain could have served in the senate was 50-22=28 years, of which he spent 26.
The conclusion is that McCain spent nearly all his time in direct training for the position of Commander in Chief, and Obama has spent about a little less than one-seventh of his.
You could argue for the inclusion of Obama’s time spent in other activities, such as the 3.5 years when he served on the eight-person Chicago-based Woods Fund “Poverty” Board with terrorist bomber William Ayers (whose reward for calling for the killing of his fellow Americans was to be made distinguished professor of education at the University of Illinois-Chicago). But most people aren’t anxious to bring attention to this service. However, in the spirit of generosity, let’s award him the full time. That ups Obama’s experience percentage to 27%.
Also, Obama served on the Illinois state legislature, which affirmatively counts as government experience. He served 7 years there, but that time overlapped entirely the time he spent sitting next to, but certainly never approving of or chatting with, radical leftist Ayers. The final table is (remembering again, that when Obama was in the State house, he could not be in the senate, etc.):
Thus, even in a generous counting, McCain still has more than twice as much experience as Obama.
This analysis assumes that any government service counts for gaining experience to the position of Commander in Chief, but surely direct military experience should be weighted at least slightly higher. I do not attempt such calculations.
Update. Thanks to LarryA who notes “Senator McCain was sworn into the Senate for the first time on Jan 6, 1987, 21.6 years ago, not 26.5 years ago as stated in the article. He was elected to the House four years before that, but the article is comparing Senate experience.” So the tables above should be changed from “Senate” to “Congress”.