Under the Sun
Being president is an experience unto itself
WHENEVER the presidential contenders talk about how much experience they have, "Mr. Sun Cho Lee" comes to mind.
The Keola and Kapono song slips the word into a context that goes back to giggly intermediate school time when anything related to sexuality was discussed in adolescent code.
The singers lament that though Miss Momilomilomi had "plenty experience," the "mean old cocktail waitress" still "no experience me."
To be clearer, think of experience in connection with recent revelations about Eliot Spitzer and how he might have violated the Mann Act, which would be better called the Stupid Man Act.
But Hillary Clinton, John McCain and Barack Obama aren't talking sex when they say experience. Rather they're referring to political accomplishments packaged with the resumes of their lives, and to how that bundle of existence makes them ready to hit the Oval Office carpet running on Day One.
I'm sure that deep down each of them knows nothing prepares a person for the White House, even if you already know where the bathrooms are. Because the days and nights that follow the first are guaranteed to be bursting with to-do lists that mutate hour by hour.
Events and situations unimaginable will unfold and overlap and though the president gets loads of help for everything from grilled cheese sandwiches to nuclear launches, in the end he or she is the decider.
If age is the heart of experience, then John McCain should be primed for action. At 71, his years have seen several cycles of war and peace. Distinguished as a Vietnam hero who suffered torture as a POW, McCain's experience as a constant candidate, however, mutes what should be an insistent campaign to restore the anti-torture law the current White House occupant vetoed earlier this month.
That same experience also advises him to court a convocation of conservatives by shifting from initial opposition to the George W. Bush's tax cuts along with modifying his stands on abortion and other issues that push red-state buttons.
Clinton's experience is like the House of Spandex, stretching skinny jeans to mommy versions -- with pleats. Her elasticity in wrapping herself in some of her husband's accomplishments and shucking his less successful ventures, variously milking his Miss Momilomilomi moments to gain sympathy while offering herself as her own woman is a contradiction unmovable from her history.
Both she and McCain say Obama is the least ready for the presidency, painting him as the newbie to even the take-no-prisoners campaign with Clinton affectedly claiming she's inoculating him for the rough ride he'll encounter should he beat her and face the Republican.
As a black man, Obama may have had it easy -- as suggested by Clinton surrogate Geraldine Ferraro. While his skin color has as much to do with his appeal as Clinton's gender and McCain's right-stuff reputation, he, his challenger and the GOP presumptive have the intelligence and the will to do the job.
Still, personal knowledge, understanding and awareness are mere entry points for the decisions one of them will have to make. To choose well, the next president will have to recognize the wishes of regular people and experience me and you. Just not like Miss Momilomilomi.
has been on the staff of the Star-Bulletin since 1976. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org