Our Opinion: Experience a must for job in White House

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One of the many criticisms Republicans offered about Barack Obama when he first ran for president was his relative inexperience in government. How things have changed in the era of Trump.

Even the supremely under-qualified Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin weighed in about the youthful Illinois senator's limited government background. Ms. Palin, who bailed out as Alaska governor to pursue a lucrative career as a political celebrity, nonetheless still has more relevant experience to offer than does Mr. Trump, the casino magnate/reality TV star the once sober, responsible GOP may anoint as its presidential candidate.

In today's Republican Party, government experience is not only unnecessary it is a detriment. This is a product of the anti-government cynicism of tea partiers that the Republican establishment gleefully encouraged when it was directed at President Obama and Democrats. Having failed to anticipate the inevitable — that the anti-establishment rancor would turn against ineffectual Republican officials — GOP leaders are now left to rationalize an eventual accommodation with The Donald.

The Republican Party, once the honorable party of limited government, is now the confused party of no government, uncertain of its mission or rationale for even pursuing offices. The anti-government types, of course, are Big Government enthusiasts when it suits them, such as in their fruitless pursuit of government bans of gay marriage or abortion rights, and this transparent hypocrisy further hurts the Republican brand.

This overwrought, anti-government antipathy has in this election year also sabotaged the GOP's traditional argument that its experienced governors are best prepared to serve as national leaders. Wisconsin's Scott Walker flamed out almost immediately. Louisiana's Bobby Jindal went nowhere. Ohio's John Kasich has worked hard but has little to show for it in terms of poll numbers. Florida's Jeb Bush proved to be a stunningly inept campaigner.

Then there is hapless New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who blew a chance to look like an effective leader when he belatedly left New Hampshire for home after last Saturday's snowstorm. The bullying governor instead made light of severe coastal flooding in his state and called a mayor who supports him "crazy" for expressing his concerns.

The Republican chief executive of course blamed the media for the controversy. The governor hasn't looked this bad since, well, earlier this month, when he blustered during a debate about kicking his old Hurricane Sandy pal President Obama out of office, apparently unaware that after serving the maximum two terms, the president will be departing voluntarily.

Democrats still value old-fashioned government experience. Hillary Clinton has served as a senator and secretary of state, and Sen. Bernie Sanders has long been a hard-working elected official, as opposed to vote-skipping dilettantes like senators and GOP presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. Unfairly overlooked Democratic presidential candidate Martin O' Malley offers considerable experience as a Maryland governor and Baltimore mayor.

Republican voters, however, would, by making Mr. Trump their presidential choice, not only abandon long-held principles they would go against basic reason and logic. We expect our teachers to be educated in teaching, our firefighters to know how to put out fires, our brain surgeons to be well-versed in medicine (including Dr. Ben Carson, who showed alarming ignorance of government before his presidential campaign unraveled). Yet, the incredibly complex job of president of the United States, with the economy, world peace and so much else at stake, should be handed to a neophyte who is blissfully proud of his ignorance?

It is difficult to imagine a more dangerous path for American to embark upon in these hazardous times.


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