Commentary Magazine


"All Those Other Presidents"

The AP reports that the McCain campaign accused Barack Obama of injecting race into the campaign with the following statement:

Nobody thinks that Bush and McCain have a real answer to the challenges we face. So what they’re going to try to do is make you scared of me. You know, `he’s not patriotic enough, he’s got a funny name,’ you know, `he doesn’t look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills.’

In what has got to be the least plausible denial since the last time a six-year-old, his face asmear, swore he hadn’t eaten the chocolate cake, Robert Gibbs, an Obama campaign spokesman, replied that Obama had been referring not to his race but to his lack of Washington experience. No, really, that’s what he said:

What Barack Obama was talking about was that he didn’t get here after spending decades in Washington. There is nothing more to this than the fact that he was describing that he was new to the political scene. He was referring to the fact that he didn’t come into the race with the history of others. It is not about race.

Okay. But let’s assume the premise for a minute. What about those "other presidents" (memo to BHO, the inauguration takes place next January) and their look-changing Washington experience?

Five presidents appear on today’s currency. Washington, obviously, had no prior experience in the federal government. Lincoln had only served two years in the House, fifteen years earlier. Jackson had been a Congressman and a Senator for a period even briefer than Obama’s (less than one year each) thirty years before he was elected president. U.S. Grant had never held a political office before his election. So all of them had less Washington experience than Obama.

That leaves Thomas Jefferson, on the two-dollar bill. He served as Secretary of State (1790-1793) and Vice President (1797-1801), giving him by far the most Washington experience of any of the "currency presidents." I wonder why the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party would want to differentiate himself from the founder of the Democratic Party.

About the Author




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.