Does Experience Matter?

Rachel Maddow expressed concern the other night about whether or not putting so many Clintonites into the Obama White House was really change.  She had as a guest, Malcolm Gladwell, who explained a theory I had not heard of before.  Gladwell thinks that in order to get mastery of anything  – playing the piano, writing, managing, etc. – one needs, on average, 10,000 hours of practice.  So if we want cabinet secretaries and White House staff who can begin work immediately what choices does Obama have?  He needs to turn to Democrats who worked in some capacity either in the Clinton/Gore administration or have experience on the Hill.  I think we need to remember that whatever policies they carried out in the past, they will now be implementing Obama policies.  Gladwell points out in the interview that the ideal would be a mix of neophytes  and experienced hands.  I will have to get a copy of one of his books like The Tipping Point or his newest, the Outliers.

I’m not as invested as some on the left in seeing him create immediate radical change – and I’m not certain what exactly that would mean.  For me, just having a President who speaks in complete sentences is a radical change.  Just having a President who can listen to various points of view and distill them into a plan of action is a change.  

And we have the Clinton lesson of gays in the military as an immediate action which got Bill off on the wrong foot.  To say nothing of the health care fiasco.  So moving slowly is OK with me.  I agree with Amy Goodman that Executive Orders can set the tone and it would be wonderful if President Obama’s first was to outlaw torture.  A good message internationally as well as domestically.  It is one on which even Republicans (who still deny they engaged in the practice) could agree.

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