In the 2008 presidential election the Republicans made much of the fact that Barrack Obama was a former community organizer (a job he held from the ages of 23 to 26). I suppose if he was still 26 years old and that was the only job he had ever held that might have meant something. However, between the time he was a community organizer and 2008 he graduated from Harvard Law School where he was elected President of the Harvard Law Review, was a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, worked as an associate at a law firm, was on the board of several community groups, served six years in the Illinois State Senate, wrote two memoirs and was elected to the United States Senate.
Funny how most of the latter accomplishments were hardly brought up to smear Obama’s young adult years. It would be interesting if the qualifications to become president were determined based on how you spent your early 20s. Let’s compare Obama’s profile to those of recent and future presidential contenders.
George W. Bush: Avoids Vietnam by having Poppy pull strings to get him into the Air National Guard. He goes AWOL at the end of his stint to attend Harvard Business School. One wonders how the self-proclaimed mediocre student at Yale got into Harvard. Most likely due to more string pulling by his prominent family, but that’s not considered affirmative action. Oh, and he had a DUI in Maine.
Dick Cheney: Famously had other priorities than military service as he applied for and received five draft deferments. Took six years to finish college. Maybe the prospect if impending military service had something to do with that. Two DUIs in back-to-back years thereby creating the all DUI ticket with Bush.
Mike Huckabee: Married Janet McCain (one assumes no relation to John). Worked for a television evangelist and later became the pastor at a church in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. So far no skeletons in his closet but hardly presidential material based on his accomplishments in his 20s.
Sarah Palin: Won the Miss Wasilla beauty pageant and later won Miss Congeniality at the Alaska pageant. Attended four colleges in five years. Worked as a sportscaster. Eloped with Todd Palin and worked in his commercial fishing business. I guess if Obama had given tit for tat during the campaign he would have asked: Do we really want a beauty pageant contestant to become President?
Mitt Romney: Returned from Mormon mission in France, got married, graduated as valedictorian from Brigham Young University, obtained draft deferments due to missionary work and college, cranked out a few kids then graduated from the joint JD/MBA program from Harvard. While I don’t like the guy because I think he is a smarmy liar you can’t deny his accomplishments while still in his 20s.
Newt Gingrich: Was mostly a serial student receiving his B.A., M.A, and PhD in Modern European History from Tulane. The serial adultery and religious hypocrisy (see conversation to Catholicism with current wife and former mistress) would come much later.
Tim Pawlenty: Graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School, got married and worked as a labor lawyer. Much like his personality he had a pretty bland decade. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Rudy Giuliani: Graduated from New York University School of Law where he was on the law review. He later volunteered for Robert F. Kennedy’s 1968 presidential campaign, served as a Democratic party committeeman on Long Island and voted for George McGovern in the 1972 presidential election. Wait what?
Hillary Clinton: Thought I’d stick this one in here to see if you are still paying attention. While the history of intraparty challenges to the president is not encouraging (Reagan in 1976 and Kennedy in 1980) I think it may happen. Graduated from Yale law school, moved to Arkansas where she married the governor and co-founded an advocacy group for children.
Bobby Jindal: Isn’t he still in his 20s?
Ron Paul: Got married, graduated from Duke Medical School and then was a flight surgeon in the US Air Force. How come the so-called “fringe” candidate has one of the best resumes of this bunch?
So if much is to be made of Obama’s work as a community organizer in his 20s let’s continue to compare future candidates to see what they were doing in this pivotal decade.
The following one-time potential candidates may or not have accomplished much in their 20s but since they saw fit to become embroiled in sexual scandals of the more recent variety they have taken themselves out of the running for the 2012 campaign: John Edwards (D-NC), Mark Sanford (R-SC), John Ensign (R-NV)., Eliot Spitzer (D-NY). Don’t worry guys, voters memories are short so keep it in your pants and good luck in 2016!