Both Hillary Clinton and John McCain are making much of Barack Obama's lack of "experience", and suggesting that it makes him unfit to lead the nation. I have to admit that personally I don't give "experience" a lot of weight when it comes to supporting Presidential candidates. In fact, I think that when weighed against qualities such as the ability to weigh both sides of an argument rationally, the ability to listen to those who disagree with you openly, and the ability to work with others cordially to achieve your goals, experience means nothing.
There's an example in the news right now- Obama said he would be willing to talk with the new leaders of Cuba without preconditions, while Hillary Clinton would refuse. John McCain probably still wants to bomb them. I know McCain wants to bomb Iran, because he's said so. That's really helpful. When the most experienced foreign-policy guy in the race wants to bomb Iran, I throw experience out the window as a qualification for a President.
We now know that when another inexperienced former-Senator faced a military crisis, all his far more experienced advisors gave him advice which he ignored. It turns out that JFK was right during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and his advisors were wrong. His gut feeling that he needed to give the Soviet leadership a bit more time to save face let him defuse the issue and bring it to a peaceful and successful conclusion. Recently-released Soviet records now tell us that if f he had followed the hawkish advice of his experienced advisors and faced down the Soviets it would have started World War 3.
George Bush had all sorts of experience to rely on after the September 11th attacks. I may not agree with Don Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Condi Rice, George Tenet, et al, but I cannot deny their deep and long experience in world affairs. So that all turned out well, didn't it?
Finally, I caught this historical tidbit in George Will's column yesterday. Yes, I know, you won't find me quoting George Will very often, but in this case it provides further food for thought-
"The president who came to office with the most glittering array of experiences had served 10 years in the House of Representatives, then became minister to Russia, then served 10 years in the Senate, then four years as secretary of state (during a war that enlarged the nation by 33 percent), then was minister to Britain. Then, in 1856, James Buchanan was elected president and in just one term secured a strong claim to being ranked as America's worst president. Abraham Lincoln, the inexperienced former one-term congressman, had an easy act to follow."
Experience. It's a good quality in airline pilots and hookers, but I don't count it so highly when I'm choosing a President.