Since 2007, give or take, Republicans have manufactured all sorts of new standards for the presidency, chiefly as a way to hector and out-flank Barack Obama, making him appear inexperienced, stupid or arrogant (“uppity” also works). Do the list: Obama’s not allowed to use teleprompters, he suddenly has to march in French protest rallies, he can’t play golf, his speeches to joint sessions of Congress can be interrupted by heckling, he can’t drink beer, he can’t appear on television talk shows, he can’t sign executive orders, he can’t fly overseas because it costs too much, he can’t take vacations, and the list goes on and on.
One of the earliest gripes about Obama, a gripe that endured throughout the 2008 election and then well into his presidency, is that he didn’t have any experience running a business, or any experience in the private sector. Right off the bat, that second criticism was an easily debunked myth. They even managed to extend the assault to the president’s first-term cabinet. Obama worked in the private sector for a law firm. Nevertheless, critics charged that Obama lacked the experience managing a business, creating jobs and dealing with a staff, and therefore he had no business being president.
If this is the standard now, then quite a few of the Republicans lining up for 2016 should be summarily disqualified by anyone who abides the “business experience” rule. Among the top-tier GOP hopefuls the following can be immediately knocked off the list.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)
No business experience.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)
Was a practicing eye doctor, no experience running a business.
Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ)
Worked as a lawyer in public and private sector, no experience running a business. Executive experience as governor.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)
Worked as a lawyer in public and private sector. No experience running a business.
First job out of school was as a lawyer for the IRS. No business experience.
Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI)
No experience running a business. Was an employee for IBM and the American Red Cross.
Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN)
Worked for a law firm and a think tank, than hosted a radio show. No experience running a business.
Was a pastor, and later a TV host. Is this business experience? Perhaps. Executive experience as governor.
Law firm experience, and since leaving office established a 501(c)3 group called Patriot Voices.
Farmed cotton with his Dad.
Definite business experience:
Dr. Ben Carson
Executive experience as director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins.
Tons of business experience.
Extensive experience in business.
Again, Obama worked for a privately-owned law firm (Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland), he also managed a staff of people as the director of the Developing Communities Project; he also conducted job training and economic development projects in Chicago, ostensibly gaining business experience through that process; plus, he managed a staff in the Illinois State Senate and in the U.S. Senate, not to mention a legion of campaign staffers. So, sure, he might not have run a real estate firm or was the CEO of Bain Capital, but the “no executive experience” attack was always a weak one.
Comparatively, only three of the top-tier GOP candidates have more experience in these areas than Obama, while most have the same or less experience. The question is whether they plan to take regular vacations, or use teleprompters, or march in protest rallies in France, or play golf, or sign executive orders, or wear tan suits. I surely hope a debate moderator asks because a legion of GOP voters will surely hold their 2016 candidates to the same standard. Right?