What's a Resume Worth?

Hi All —

Douglas here, in for Lee Hill this Wednesday.

Today on the show RNC Chairman Mike Duncan defends Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin. That's not surprising. But what really caught my ear was his comment that Palin has "made more decisions in a short period of time than anyone in the United States Senate has been able to do." Duncan's argument brought up a question I've been pondering, since the early days of the contest, when the big issue was whether Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama was better qualified.

How do you measure one's ability to be a leader?

It's a fundamental issue we've all probably debated at some point. But so far - to me anyway - the question seems to be reduced to a comparison of each of the candidate's job titles and years of service. Palin's time as a small town mayor versus Obama's time as community organizer. McCain's long record in the Senate versus Obama's outsider advantage. Biden's position on the Senate Foreign relations committee versus Palin's command of the Alaskan National Guard.

Has the conversation devolved — or maybe I should say stalled — into a numbers game? It's a big decision we're all contemplating — who's the next president of arguably the most powerful country in the world? If resumes do matter, should the length of a job matter more than actual performance — or wisdom gained? Everyone knows Obama was a community organizer. Not so many know exactly what he accomplished in this role. Conversely, everyone knows McCain commanded a Navy squadron, but what did this teach him about leadership? Presumably, he learned something, but that's not on the table.

With all this talk about 'executive' experience, are we missing the point? Speaking as someone who has a very nontraditional resume - delayed college for several years, bounced around professions, etc - I'm not sure the candidates' job titles or how long they held the jobs deserve so much attention. I'm more interested in what's between the lines.

Thoughts?

Speaking of things between the lines, check out our conversation about voting rights and solutions some advocates are proposing to make sure potential voters don't get shut out. Also, Michel talks with playwright Daniel Beaty's about his new work Resurrection, which explores the lives of six African American men. Actor Jefery V. Thompson also joins in to reflect on his personal connection with his character ' Bishop'.

More from Michel tomorrow.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

A resume is not always the true litmus test as to whether a person is qualified for the job or not. Almost anyone can look good on paper, but actions definitely speaker louder. That is why on some job requirements experience is necessary.

In the case of who is better for the job of President, I would say that the experience of Obama and McCain vary. They have each performed duties in their career past that has made them qualified. Now, is one better than the other - well, that is subjective and left to the individual voter to determine.

AS for me, I will make my decision based on their stance on the issues that concern me, i.e., the war, health care, education. I'll watch all of the debates, continue to read news stories, listen to radio stories, and ultimately make a decision that I feel is right and just.

Sent by ernise | 4:32 PM | 9-17-2008

Something to ponder...

In the Movie "All the President's Men", Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) catches Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) "revising" his story copy "draft" and Confronts him.

Berstein goes into a litany of the things he improved and THEN defers to Woodwards judgement as to their "value".
Woodward agrees to their merits and then rebukes Berstein saying....

"I don't mind what you did, I mind the way you did it!"

Seems like this is a similar test/calibration to put to the candidates to get a measure of their character, in addition to the 'strength of their resumes.

Put another way, would I trust you farther than I can throw you...???...!!!

Sent by John Schaffer | 6:13 AM | 9-18-2008

About how past reflects character, I'd love to see the show focus on the "rape kits" issue about Palin, as well as the McCain campaigns statement about Troopergate, that "The last straw, the McCain campaign said, was in July, when Monegan planned to travel to Washington to seek federal money for a plan to assign troopers, judges and prosecutors who could exclusively handle sexual assault cases -- one of the state's most intractable crime problems."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eric-schmeltzer/palins-anti-rape-investig_b_126763.html

Just disgusting. There should be more main stream media coverage of this.

Sent by KS | 9:43 AM | 9-18-2008

I heard comments on a show, I think Wednesday or Tuesday about Palin not having anyone of color working for her at the State or when she was mayor of Wasilla. There are a good number of reasons for this.

First, most of the black population are concentrated in the military bases in Alaska. Yes, there are a few in Anchorage and Fairbanks and even some in rural Alaska, but they are a tiny minority, probably less than 1% of Wasilla.

As far as Alaska Natives are concerned I want to remind you that Palin is a Republican. Alaska Natives are overwhelmingly Democrat or Independents. In addition to that, there is the lack of available Alaska Native candidates in Alaska for high level administrative jobs. If an Alaska Native has a good education he or she either leaves Alaska to work for the Federal Government, works for one of the Native Alaska tribes or corporations or some part of the Federal or State government, often the BIA or Indian Health Service. There are very few of these, maybe 5% of Alaskan Natives have college degrees.

I know, I lived in Alaska for 15 years and knew two professionally trained Alaska Native accountants the entire time. Forget hiring one, as they are all working for the State or Federal Government. For the most part, Alaska Native organizations are managed and administered by white men and women from the lower 48 who are attracted by the high pay and mystic of Alaska.

So, don't blame Palin for not hiring more Alaskan Natives, because there were none to hire.

Sent by Lance Mertz | 6:45 PM | 9-18-2008

About