The US Presidential Election: A Race Between The Two Most Unqualified Public Servants In A Century?

Tyler Durden's picture


While the extreme polarization of our political parties has been discussed often, the upcoming Presidential election is perhaps more notable in another way. Given Obama’s experience as a Senator and Romney’s single term as Massachusetts governor, the 2012 election is as light on 'high-level public sector experience' as we have seen in many decades. The implications are subject to debate, but as JPMorgan's Michael Cembalest points out: there’s no question that it’s an anomaly; or at a minimum, a throwback to the elections of the 19th century, when this kind of thing was more common. At a time when confidence in all institutions (non-financial business, banks, Congress, the Fed, etc) are close to multi-decade lows, this is not a surprise. Why should experience count for anything? Throw the bums out and hand the reins over to outsiders! Still, Michael (like us) finds this chart disconcerting, even though it’s hard to explain why. Do politicians who have not wielded substantial power underestimate the consequences of being wrong? It’s easy to be dead sure about something if you haven’t created a public policy train wreck of your own.



The upcoming election offers voters the least amount of prior “high level public service experience” (as defined in the chart above) in many decades. We started our analysis in 1912 (right before the 1913 adoption of the 17th Amendment providing for direct election of Senators), and added the combined prior experience of both candidates. Given Obama’s experience as a Senator and Romney’s single term as Massachusetts governor, the 2012 election is as light on this front as the 1952 election between Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson. However, the 1952 candidates had a lot more public sector heft than our chart shows. Our methodology excludes Eisenhower’s military background as a senior staff officer for Generals Fox Connor, Moseley and MacArthur in the 1920s and 1930s, and Stevenson’s experience in the State and Navy departments during WW II, and as a member of the US delegation to the UN during its formative years.

So, to find an election this light on public sector experience, you have to go back to the 1924 election between Coolidge and John W Davis, the latter a compromise candidate who had spent 5 years as US Solicitor General. Both Coolidge and Davis had only spent a couple of years as either Governor or in Congress before running. That’s one strange context of the 2012 election: a couple of “one-termers”, with neither having much prior experience at the highest levels of public service (12 years combined, by our count).

The implications are subject to debate, but there’s no question that it’s an anomaly; or at a minimum, a throwback to the elections of the 19th century, when this kind of thing was more common.

Source: JPMorgan

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Mon, 06/25/2012 - 13:53 | 2558757 battle axe
battle axe's picture

A joke  and a bigger joke....

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 13:55 | 2558769 Kitler
Kitler's picture

Bush V. Gore takes the ticket

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 13:58 | 2558786 t_kAyk
t_kAyk's picture

Giant Douche or Turd Sandwich? 

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 14:02 | 2558814 NotApplicable
NotApplicable's picture

Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos!

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 14:07 | 2558842 SilverIsKing
Mon, 06/25/2012 - 14:08 | 2558845 AL_SWEARENGEN

Not much of a horserace, is it, between the appetite for blood and fidelity to political conviction.


Mon, 06/25/2012 - 14:13 | 2558866 slewie the pi-rat
slewie the pi-rat's picture

WTF tyler!

do something besides cembalest's "how i spent my vacation" crap willya?

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 14:18 | 2558889 jus_lite_reading
jus_lite_reading's picture

The 2012 election can be summed up with two words----- GAME OVER


Mon, 06/25/2012 - 14:20 | 2558900 Caviar Emptor
Caviar Emptor's picture

Who can save the world? Mittens can! 

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 14:36 | 2558967 slewie the pi-rat
slewie the pi-rat's picture

more thinking like that & we could close green, C_E!

i think the soupream quart would prefer mittens

he is obviously the most unitard executive imaginable

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 14:46 | 2559018 URZIZMINE
URZIZMINE's picture

I Don't think it will matter, but I would guess that Odronema will win the election. Accelerate the spending.

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 14:55 | 2559060 Chief KnocAHoma
Chief KnocAHoma's picture

Yeah... the last thing we need in the White House is a turn around specialist.

And if the author wants someone with vast government experience... I question his wisdom.

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 15:22 | 2559164 Richard Chesler
Richard Chesler's picture

Both are well versed in blowing banksters. No other qualifications are needed.

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 16:17 | 2559338 Chief KnocAHoma
Chief KnocAHoma's picture

True... but at least Mitt will also squeeze their balls until they begin putting money back on the street allowing our economy to recover. He'll also make those standing around with their hand out, pick up a shovel and do some work, or go hungry.

Obama will just blow and blow and blow.... then bend over and grab his ankles for fun. He'll let the leaches continue leaching... and let the bankers take only the cream.


Mon, 06/25/2012 - 16:17 | 2559339 Chief KnocAHoma
Chief KnocAHoma's picture

True... but at least Mitt will also squeeze their balls until they begin putting money back on the street allowing our economy to recover. He'll also make those standing around with their hand out, pick up a shovel and do some work, or go hungry.

Obama will just blow and blow and blow.... then bend over and grab his ankles for fun. He'll let the leaches continue leaching... and let the bankers take only the cream.


Mon, 06/25/2012 - 18:43 | 2559788 GeezerGeek
GeezerGeek's picture

Vast government experience gave us Joe Biden. Gerald Ford had significant experience in government. Ditto Barney Frank, and I doubt anyone would want him in the Pink House.

We need someone with common sense, not merely experience. At least the president should have enough sense to realize that the government is a hindrance to economic progress and to get out of the way. We do, however, need a president who can deal with international affairs (Clinton's types of affairs don't count) and serve the interests of Americans. Obama can't or won't. Romney is an unknown, but would be hard pressed to be worse than Obama. Even Carter was better.

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 14:44 | 2559006 Temporalist
Temporalist's picture

Well Obama saved the gays and Mittens saved the Olympics (from what nobody knows).  It's a start.  Next they will save AOL and or JC Penny.

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 14:46 | 2559015 francis_sawyer
francis_sawyer's picture

Isn't Ron Paul still in the race?

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 14:48 | 2559031 Temporalist
Temporalist's picture

The problem with Ron Paul is that you have to deprogram the sheeple to vote for him and they don't like that.

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 22:05 | 2560293 boogerbently
boogerbently's picture

"The Two Most Unqualified Public Servants In A Century"

The 2 most unqualified "candidates".....please!

We HAVE no "public servants", just self serving crooks.

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 14:56 | 2558901 sunaJ
sunaJ's picture

For decades we have been electing leaders from a pool, pre-screened by TPTB.  They are presented to us in a popularity contest that is vastly more absurd (and powerless) than high school student body officer elections.  The only thing that makes them less qualified this time are the incredible times we are living in.  Neither Obama or Romney will be effective in terms of reform.  You are being given a choice of the president with whom you would like to enter WWIII.  It is war and/or revolution*


* All rules of how best to gain and store wealth will change.

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 17:59 | 2559672 FEDbuster
FEDbuster's picture

Jesse Venture was summoned to D.C. and "interviewed" by the CIA, National Security Agency, etc... after winning the MN governorship.  He said they just couldn't believe that an independent could be elected to such a high office.  He described the panel of people questioning him as being freaked out by his winning.

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 17:44 | 2559625 God Bless The V...
God Bless The Virtuous's picture


This is what we are reduced to?

More Americans get their news form some asshole communist on H.B.lOW,

Bill Maher,

and have no idea just how far the republic has moved closer to the end of the "Overton Window" the progressives have worked on since Woodrow Wilson!

Let us not fail because we chose to sit down!


This is the single,

most important election of our lives and the fact that there is this level of "Dis - Information" / useless lame street media garbage out there,

makes it all the more vital we all WAKE THE FUCK UP!

You only need look, listen, and learn from the words of Obama himself!

This is the product of being raised in the progressive / communist community,

that Hillary so famously coined,"It takes a community to raise a child",

yeah, and this president is the result!

There is no "Social Justice" in the America of our founders!

It is "Equal Justice", not some law of man!

There is no "Collective Salvation",

No sir!

It is all about the individual,

as in,

"Individual Salvation", a choice, not to be made by anyone else but by the "Individual",



There is the law of the republic,

the constitution!

This country is based on the "Laws of God",

not the whims of some megalomaniac who touts the "Laws of Man" and so arrogantly dares,

"Fundamentally transform the United States of America?"


We will not comply!

Get registered to vote!




Then vote with the future of the republic in the scales!

May the good lord watch over this fragile little experiment in freedom / self rule we call America!


Mon, 06/25/2012 - 14:00 | 2558798 Temporalist
Temporalist's picture

I'm hoping to vote Quayle 2012...comeon Danny boy!

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 14:15 | 2558881 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

No, no, no.

What we need is a President with a profound knowledge of rolling bearings.  But, I won't run, you will have to draft me.  And raise the pay, what you think I would work THAT HARD for a lousy $400k per year?  Forget about it!

Just put me in the White House and let me roll!  I promise real Black Swans!  |;.!

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 14:22 | 2558908 XitSam
XitSam's picture

The job does come with perks. For example, you are allowed to kill anyone, anywhere in the world at any time. You get your own helicopter, and two decoy helicopters. Your own plane with custom communications equipment. You get one guy to follow you around with a nuclear football.

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 14:31 | 2558943 Pure Evil
Pure Evil's picture

And a bunch of other guys to pre-screen your whores when the wifey doesn't accompany you on political jaunts, a la Columbia.

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 14:24 | 2558916 Temporalist
Temporalist's picture

Fletch can be your running mate:

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 18:52 | 2559808 GeezerGeek
GeezerGeek's picture

Nice of you to volunteer. Personally, I'd like to be dictator, but only for a week or two. I'd want to be there to initiate extreme rendition on all the idiots who got us into this mess in the first place, politicians and crony capitalists alike. Then I'd declare all executive orders null and void, followed by all laws passed after the Coinage Act of 1792, including the amendments regarding income tax and senators. My last official act would be to amend the Constitution where it gives Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce. I'd add "No laws may be enacted using this clause."

Then I'd run like hell to get out of town.

Daydreaming is so much fun.

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 14:40 | 2558984 BennyBoy
BennyBoy's picture

One is the Financial Elite.

The other takes his orders from the Financial Elite.

It's great to have choices!

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 14:17 | 2558883 SILVERGEDDON


Bachman / Palin for Prez and Vice Prez in 2016, baby! Running on the " Double Trouble " Ticket! Preceded by their fund raising photo op in Playboy. After the election,  a really bad porn movie called "Double Dykes Do Washington Doggie Dildo Style", to keep public interest running at a fevered pitch.

At year three of the first term, a stylish P.R. campaign for re-election ramps up to a crescendo when they finish their first term with the " Fuck America - REAL GOOD! " tour.

This is followed upon their winning re-election for a second term with the passing of the " What's Good For Us Is Good For America " Consolidation Population Act. The 99 percenters get what is " Best For The American People " - all expense paid trips to the FEMA camp of your choice! But wait - there's more - free meds and indoctrination into the Mama Grizzly Tribe! Fuck, yeah! Good Times! I saw it on Oprah - it HAS to be true ! 




Mon, 06/25/2012 - 17:57 | 2559667 Dburn
Dburn's picture

That is the best chunk of writing I've seen in awhile. Keep it up. Nothing like black humor in hard times. Good stuff.

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 13:54 | 2558762 kato
kato's picture

George Bush already has that title. Then Jimmy Carter. Then George Bush's father.

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 14:05 | 2558833 ArsoN
ArsoN's picture

i think i'd put bush senior above the other two (as in he was better).  at least he seemed to have some concern for fiscal responsibility.  probably more so than reagan...

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 13:55 | 2558765 Abraxas
Abraxas's picture

Does it really matters which one of these two wins?

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 13:57 | 2558781 Alejandrito
Alejandrito's picture

changes the speed with which it comes to collapse

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 13:57 | 2558782 Divided States ...
Divided States of America's picture

of course it does. I have to decide now whether to learn Mandarin or learn how to build a house out of cardboard boxes.

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 14:01 | 2558810 Long-John-Silver
Mon, 06/25/2012 - 14:21 | 2558905 flacon
flacon's picture

$35,000 for a cardboard house? Might as well just buy a trailer home for less.

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 14:36 | 2558966 Uncle Remus
Uncle Remus's picture

Is FEMA still running that special?

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 16:27 | 2559374 James-Morrison
James-Morrison's picture

Build cardboard box home construction kits, translate the instructions into Mandarin and export them to China.

Do something patriotic for American manufacturing.  

(Don't forget to include in your business plan the Milton-Bradley Monopoly money it requires to bribe our government officials). 

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 13:58 | 2558789 Long-John-Silver
Long-John-Silver's picture

Not at all. Collapse is assured. If Ron Paul was the nominee I could have questioned the possibility of a collapse.

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 14:00 | 2558799 BlueCollaredOne
BlueCollaredOne's picture

You put too much faith in one man....


Mon, 06/25/2012 - 14:03 | 2558825 Long-John-Silver
Long-John-Silver's picture

I never said Ron Paul could prevent the collapse, only that stopping it could be possible.

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 14:11 | 2558847 TheCanadianAustrian
TheCanadianAustrian's picture

It's not that he can prevent it, it's just that he can stop it from happening? Interesting.

Implying that the world's best politician can prevent a bubble economy from collapsing is like implying that the world's best pilot can prevent a plane from landing.

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 14:21 | 2558890 BlueCollaredOne
BlueCollaredOne's picture

Couldnt have said it better myself.  Ron Paul is there to educate, and to get like minded individuals together to actually discuss other political narratives besides the Red V.S. Blue shit we are spoonfed through media.  He's done a wonderful job at that, and will soon be riding off into the sunset. I love his message, and I realize he is probably the last time we will see such a public figure.

That being said he was never meant to really make a difference "through working within the system", its been designed to not allow such a thing. 

It should be obvious by now.

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 14:50 | 2559042 Uncle Remus
Uncle Remus's picture

Precisely. I gave willingly to his campaign, NOT expecting him to get the nod, but rather to support the delivery of a different more relevant narrative. The mantra is about who is electable or who can defeat the incumbent. That is short-sighted but typical of an instant-gratification based society. Regardless of which puppet wins, the public at large continues to lose - no, hemorrhage liberty and the value of their labor.

We are in a pitched asymmetrical war of wit and will for the future of just about everything.

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 14:26 | 2558922 CommunityStandard
CommunityStandard's picture

Truth - there's no way to eliminate a ponzi without collapse.

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 14:07 | 2558843 NotApplicable
NotApplicable's picture

If he'd been the nominee, I would've been completely assured of a collapse. Meaning that "they" would've broken everything and used the MSM to blame it on his "evil" policies, daring him to maintain his small government stance. Case in point, remember the first TARP bailout vote? (back when they felt they still had to ask permission)

"Give us everything we ask for, or we'll tank the market."

Mob rules.


Mon, 06/25/2012 - 14:02 | 2558817 kito
kito's picture

there is raging irony in this article....authored by one of jpms henchmen.....funny to see the master discuss his two puppets........

 It’s easy to be dead sure about something if you haven’t created a public policy train wreck of your own.....

mr dimon has certainly been complicit in assisting with the public policy train wreck, and yet he still seems to be so dead sure about alot of things......................

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