October 8th, 2010
10:20 AM ET

Letters to the President: #627 'Experience? Who needs it'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: President Obama won the office in part by arguing that more experienced politicians were too set in their ways. But now he has to fend off a whole new flock of candidates in both parties saying pretty much the same thing.

Dear Mr. President,

Some time back I was out in New Mexico talking to Gov. Bill Richardson and our conversation came around to his ill-fated presidential bid. You may recall while you were racing to the front of pack, he was back there elbowing for his life in that scrum of Democrats running after you: Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, John Edwards, Dennis Kucinich, and heck I can’t even remember all the names anymore.

Anyway, I asked him how he felt about the experience and he said he enjoyed it but the voters just weren’t buying experience that time around. You’ll have to admit he has a point. Based on his resume, he had all the chops: Years of experience with national and international affairs, business contacts, political savvy, you name it.

And judging from what I’m seeing in these midterms elections, experience is still not selling so well. I suspect about the last thing any politician wants to say in a close race right now is “I’ve been inside the government. I know how it works!”

For old-time political operatives I know that this is puzzling. After all, if you were going to have your house painted, would you hire someone who has painted a lot of houses, or someone who has never done it before?

Of course, politics is not house painting and that’s the problem - because experience also brings bias. If you learn how to handle a certain problem in a certain way; you naturally may become a little hesitant to try a new approach. And voters hate that way of thinking right now.

So how do you reconcile the two? I think the true winning party out of all this will be the one that combines the experience of knowing how to get things done in the government as it is, with a heartfelt desire, commitment, and vision to change the government into what it can be. And as you have found, that is a difficult trick when so many people in both parties seem so content on keeping everything just the way it is…because that’s how they were elected.


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Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. neinka lando

    If we are never going to be willing to understand that in order to move forward as a nation we must abanden all of the old way and beliefs we all hold about life that have been keeping us at war with each other's side of government beliefs of and about lifestyles ways of living and lives; and we are always going to demand to be understood by the other side but never be willing to understand the humanness and human needs of the each other side: Then how can we ever hope to possibly achieve a united country of peace. Remember "The more things change the more they stay the same" The seminal compass.

    October 8, 2010 at 8:23 pm |
  2. Kim

    Walk down any street in America and ask a few citizens if they trust their state and federal govt. It's like they have the best intentions but do they really listen to the majority of the people or just the Washington insiders surrounding them ? That's why we need more American citizens on watch. Unintended political consequences bullying Main Street ? Wish for Checks and Balances with neither party having all the power.All of a sudden Americans wake up and look at the reality checks ! Blame Bush ? Democrats had control of the Senate and Congress he last of his years didn't they ?

    October 8, 2010 at 6:31 pm |
  3. Karon Greene

    I so agree with everything you said. That is how my husband and I feel. It's always about old politics, and this world has changed and needs the people running the country to realize this, and stop all the bickering between party's.

    We don't listen to the ads that these politicians put out, they are just full of mud slinging. These are just a few of our thoughts.

    October 8, 2010 at 5:51 pm |
  4. Kevin Engeldinger


    Who is paying for the president to fly around and help out his buddies? We are the american people....What a waste of money....The plane ...the security.....if ANY president wants to do this have them pay for it out of there own money...The Vice President...The First Lady...All of the are spending OUR tax dollars on seperate planes...and all the security for them......What a WASTE of TAX payers dollars.......

    October 8, 2010 at 2:44 pm |