On the Road

Sept. 11 Brings Peace On The Campaign Trail

The presidential candidates attempted a truce yesterday, to honor the 7th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain visited Ground Zero together. They later shared a stage — briefly — at a forum on national service at Columbia University.

Public service seems like a topic that would keep everything civil. Then again, its been hotly debated on the campaign trail. At the Republican convention, McCain's running mate Sarah Palin questioned the value of Obama's time as a community organizer. McCain was asked about that last night:

McCain: Governor Palin was responding to criticism about her inexperience and her job as a small town mayor. Of course I respect community organizers, people who serve their community. And Senator Obama's record there is outstanding.

Obama, for his part praised Palin, who was mayor of Wasilla Alaska. Obama said mayors have some of the toughest jobs in the country. The candidates took questions separately, making one brief appearance on stage together.

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Is "mayor vs. community organizer" an accurate comparison? NPR is running a story with this comparison in its title, and David Greene quotes McCain on this topic in his blog entry.

McCain and Sarah Palin like to compare her experience as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, with Barack Obama's "community organizer" job, implying that she is more experienced. But what, exactly, was Obama doing while Palin was mayor of her small town (1996-2002)? He was an Illinois state senator (1997-2004) and a U.S. senator (2004-present). When Obama was a "community organizer" (managing a 400K budget) from 1985-88, what was Palin doing? She had just won the Miss Wasilla beauty pageant and had placed third ("Miss Congeniality") in the Miss Alaska contest. Maybe the appropriate comparison regarding experience during those years is between "community organizer" and "beauty queen."

A timeline helps (all of this is easy to locate for anyone with internet access):

2006-present: Palin is governor of Alaska; Obama is US senator

1996-2006: Palin is mayor of Wasilla; Obama is state senator, then US senator

1992-1996: Palin serves on city council; Obama is constitutional law expert at University of Chicago Law School

1988-1991: Palin is TV sports reporter for a year; Obama attends Harvard Law School and is president of Harvard Law Review

1985-88: Palin is "Miss Congeniality," then attends University of Idaho; Obama is "community organizer" growing his organization's annual budget from $70K to $400K

Looks to me like Obama bests Palin's experience at each stage of the game during the last 20 years, if we're looking for qualifications to serve in national politics.

Sent by Cory Reed | 2:23 PM | 9-12-2008

Thanks for the time line Cory.

Sent by Sophie Penberthy | 4:23 PM | 9-12-2008

We like what Senator McCain said about community organizers.

Senator McCain occasionally, about 10%, said something right, and he is a good man.

But we need a leader who has better judgment and qualifications; Senator McCain is not this leader.

Sent by Kim | 8:09 PM | 9-12-2008

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