Thursday, October 23, 2008

Does Barack Obama Have Executive Experience?

Last night on my show, I was asked the question if Senator Barack Obama has Executive experience? This has been one of the talking points of conservatives since the selection of Gov. Sarah Palin.

Let’s outline the characteristics of an Executive. Webster defines an Executive as “having administrative or managerial responsibility.” Keeping this definition in mind, in order to manage a successful political campaign, it must be well-organized, have the right ideals, efficient and effective delivery of message, money, volunteers, and time to manage the campaign’s goals.

The campaign solely begins with the candidate. He/she must outline the objectives and select the team. Actually, this is probably the most critical judgment call and will set the tone for the entire campaign.

Now, let’s take a look at the Obama campaign strategy. Obama began with 5 key advisors. The first objective was fundraising. While other candidates were maintaining status quo through the traditional routes, the Obama campaign’s decided on a different approach which seemed risky at the time for a virtually unknown candidate from a national perspective. His management style guided the team to successfully out raise the establishment candidate, Senator Hillary Clinton. As the campaign has progressed in the General Election, he has continued to out pace his opponent. Last month alone, he raised a record $150 million with over 600,000 donors which gave less than $100 each.

Secondly, the campaign’s message was simple – Change. The word change encompassed a change candidate, change in politics, change in ideals, change in Washington, etc. The word ‘change’ resonated with voters. By the last of quarter of the Democratic primary and even the last quarter of the General election, the other opposing candidates, Clinton and Senator John McCain also adopted the philosophy of change.

With the Change message, the Obama campaign also included hope in the delivery of the message. It was effective and efficient. Although the pundits, as well as, the other opposing candidates exclaimed that there was no substance, just rhetoric, the Obama campaign maintained their composure and stride. After securing the Democratic nomination, the rally speeches became more defined to his platform – The Blueprint for Change.

Thirdly, from the very beginning Obama outlined his goals. Prior to Iowa, he knew that the state was vital in his survival. He took Iowa by storm, literally. The state was saturated with copies of the Blueprint for Change weeks before the Iowa caucus. In addition, the campaign took a map of the country and highlighted the number of delegates needed for each state, then prioritized must win states. With that, they sent volunteers to states that have never been active in the primaries to capture wins that were not conceivable in prior months.

Lastly, there has been much said about Obama being a community organizer. It appears that particular piece of his resume has been actually advantageous. This skill has been useful in his efforts to attract volunteers to his campaign. By becoming a member of the campaign website, you are connected with people from around the country who have organized in their own communities in an effort to elect Obama. They are canvassing, making calls and fundraising. Because of this, the general contingency feels involved in the process, as well as, it being the campaign of the people.

Because this is a talking point of the conservatives as a comparison of the #1 candidate of the Democratic ticket to the #2 of the Republican ticket as it relates to experience, let’s look at these facts:

Obama – Harvard Law graduate
Palin – Attended 5 Universities/Colleges, in 5 years before completing degree requirements. No graduate work.

Obama – Former State Senator of District 13 (IL) population 45,486
Palin – Former Mayor Wasilla, AL population 5469

Obama – Former community organizer. Developed a multi-million dollar campaign machine (see above dissertation)
Palin – Former Mayor was Wasilla (50 employees) with $12 million a year. Left the city with a $20 million in long-term debt.

Obama – Senator in Illinois – Population of District – 653,547
Palin – Governor of Alaska – Population 683,478

Based on the above, Senator Obama, as the executive of his campaign, has been very proficient in conducting the operations of his campaign. As of this date, without his guidance, he would not have become the Democratic nominee or be the candidate who is up by at least 10 points in the polls as of this date. He has taken the novelty of becoming president to a virtual reality by sticking to his principals, managing time, money and volunteers.

Regardless of the above, George W. Bush taunted executive experience. Did that make him a successful president? Therefore, this conservative talking point has no merit.