The “Name An Accomplishment” Game

February 15, 2008

As of late, it’s been hard to peruse the talk radio and blog punditry for too long without running into this fun exercise.  The rationale?  Probably a few things, actually.  One, it turns the focus of the political debate to Obama’s perceived inexperience and lack of substance in his speeches.    Two, publicly belittling and marginalizing his supporters might result in second-guessing for those watching at home. Three, all this may be viewed as the only defense against Obama’s charisma, energy, and the social movement forming around him.

As for the major players, you’ll find the usual suspects, but no one enjoys this game more than Sean Hannity:

The fallacy with this game is that you can play it with just about any candidate out there.  Ask your average McCain supporter on the street to name an accomplishment, and you’d probably get a response that had something to do with his status as a war hero, if anything.  What about Huckabee?  Clinton?   

It certainly doesn’t mean that people are stupid, but rather that the focus of debates and campaign speeches tends to center around ideas on current issues and policies.  Congressional voting records usually get a secondary look and are sometimes misleading, but even sponsoring legislation doesn’t come to most people’s minds when one is forced to think of an “accomplishment”.  Nor would the usual “fought for” or “stood alongside” rhetoric found in your typical political campaign ad.  Very rarely do you see candidate with a specific accomplishment that uniquely qualifies an individual to take on the U.S. presidency anyway.  And I’ve long argued that the people who do have the resume for the office are the people who don’t want the job.

In all likelihood, the “name an accomplishment” test would have been failed by average Americans on all sides for the last 100 years.

But it sure is fun!  And I’d expect to see a lot more of it as Obama gets closer to winning the nomination.

(for a little more fun, and in the spirit of the debate over relevant accomplishments that make a good president, take a look at the FACTS ABOUT GEORGE DUBYA BUSH THAT YOU MIGHT BE UNAWARE OF….. TAKEN FROM HIS RESUME )

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  1. Well, I’m in a strange place, here. I do find Sean Hannity’s pursuit of the issue to be his usual style — insulting and excessive.

    However, I think it’s a legitimate issue. Drop the “uniquely qualified” part, because that’s just silly. But in terms of qualifications, I can point to some strong qualifications for McCain, Huckabee, Romney, Dodd, Biden, Richardson, and some others.

    I do think that Obama’s experience is very lean, and it’s a valid criticism.

    But Hannity, as usual, takes it to an extreme for his own amusement and that of his faithful.

  2. I was listening to Mark Simone (filling in for Mark Levin) tonight, and one of the callers asked Mark to name a McCain accomplishment. Pretty much the same result. i.e. “err…ummm” Pretty classic.

    Anyway, “accomplishment” is loaded.

    Experience aside, Obama has something that none of the other candidates can match, namely the ability to inspire and unite the country. He’ll change the way the world views us; someone that we can actually be proud to represent us. It’s something that a lifetime of experience could never deliver.

    Obama can always surround himself with competent people. People who specialize in different fields; the best and brightest. Experts on economics, foreign affairs, etc.

    I’d like to say that all presidents do that, but we’ve seen what Bush has put together (loyalty over competence).

  3. Great point Chen, I was going to mention something about this. Voters in general – and not just in America – are woefully uninformed.

  4. CZ, that’s part of why executive experience matters. I’ve seen the sorts of people that Gov. Romney has appointed, and I can see who Gov. Huckabee has appointed. I have some idea about Sen. Clinton’s people (Gen. Clark, for instance) … I don’t have that kind of record for Sen. Obama.

    But, yes, he does have a certain (dare I say it) Reagan-esque quality of being able to unite. I also think that he’s going to clean up in the general election. I certainly hope that that’s for the best.

  5. If I recall correctly from a conversation I had some years ago… once Obama (or ‘if’ if you prefer) starts running for the big ticket – the people he chooses to present are those who will sit in his ‘council’ [as a brit I have to admit some ignorance of the appropriate terms] and at that point it will be able to properly evaluate his campaign and the ‘experience’ he will have around him if he does win.

    I know next to nothing about ALL the candidates’ policies as they are put forward as individuals with their relative ratings rather than a comparison of who thinks what – which I find disappointing this side of ‘the pond’…

  6. General Chen,

    You will issue a personal public apology on this site with its own dedicated thread if we refute some of these “George Bush” resume accomplishments with real facts?

    Or does fairness matter? Not that I’ve ever found you fair but in the wish of your “seeking knowledge” as you solely boldly claimed previously?

  7. Tex-

    Why in the world would I issue an apology for posting a link for “fun” and in the “spirit of debate”?

    I’m not even sure that all of that stuff is true, so…knock yourself out. Refute away!

  8. Chen,

    You’re ducking as you accuse me of…you ought to throw Donald as your gravatar beside your posts. Here’s your exact sentence verbatim:

    for a little more fun, and in the spirit of the debate over relevant accomplishments that make a good president, take a look at the FACTS ABOUT GEORGE DUBYA BUSH THAT YOU MIGHT BE UNAWARE OF….. TAKEN FROM HIS RESUME )

    The content is totally misleading and the link is complete h*rs*sh*t. Hardly any of it is factual (your word, not mine).

  9. Tex- Seriously. You’re thinking too hard. I’m not asserting that all of the “accomplishments” in that link are true, I’m playfully introducing Bush as an example and providing a link to help instigate the debate. I was kind of expecting someone to try refute them, but the idea was to make the broader point. i.e. if accomplishments were that important, we wouldn’t have elected George Bush.

    /and “fact” was NOT my word. It’s part of the title of that thread.

  10. You need to chill Tex.

    What’s the next installment of “Why Obama?” Chen?

  11. hmmm….next installment….do I dare try to tackle healthcare or the economy? Is the Chamber ready? lol

  12. King,

    I know you’re a toady for the left masquerading as some type of thinking, educated moderate and that’s okay. And we’re all allowed whatever messianic worship we choose, in your case Obama.

    But I have made it abundantly clear that I think Chen has an incredibly myopic view of fairness with respect to George Bush. You just have a myopic view period.

  13. Chen do healthcare. Obama as a matter of fact is lacking in experience. This is however a job above all jobs and one must bring many different things to the table.. As for comparing Obama to Reaganesque. Only and I can’t stress this enough. Barack’s ability to communicate,mesmerize and therefore energize those that listen is true. It is as much a Reagan thing as a Hitler thing though. Eventually you need the talk to mean something.This is where Obama comes up short. He fails to take the upper hand in most debates and doesn’t have any record of actually talking tough.

  14. in2tf- I’m gonna come right out and say that I am not a wonk on healthcare policy, but I’ll give it a shot. Look for it tomorrow.

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