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Obama-Biden, McCain-Palin, and the experience question

Truman and Reagan showed that character and common sense matter more than a good résumé.

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The nominating conventions, each dramatic in different ways, are nearly done and Americans are on the last lap toward the new presidency.

Sen. Barack Obama promises billions for good works but is sketchy about how to pay for them. Sen. John McCain promises to bring the troops home with honor and victory, but nobody knows how this will really leave Iraq.

Senator Obama wants to change Washington by vanquishing the Republicans in office. Senator McCain wants to change Washington by reforming the Republicans in office.

Obama will continue to dazzle us until Nov. 4 with charismatic eloquence. McCain, who never met a teleprompter he liked, will continue to exude sincerity in smaller gatherings.

Both sides are seized with the issue of "experience," which probably will weigh heavily with the voters.

But what does experience mean? Does it mean academic achievement? Running a big corporation? Many years in governance? Or does it mean principle, character, and common sense?

William F. Buckley, that acerbic but astute late observer of our times, once declared: "I'd rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people in the Boston telephone directory than the faculty of Harvard University."

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