Is this true? I’ve heard the argument before. If you think Obama’s youth and inexperience as an executive contributed to the crapulence of Hopenchange, why would you turn around and nominate someone who’s … young and lacks executive experience? You’re setting yourself up for a new round of rookie mistakes, this time from the right. That means no Rand Paul, no Ted Cruz, and no Marco Rubio. I’m not sure conservatives see it that way, though. The crapulence of Hopenchange is an ideology problem, not a “youth and inexperience” problem. If anything, the fact that the left nominated a guy with a grand total of not quite four years of service at the federal level means they’ve opened the door for the GOP to nominate someone just as green. They wanted a backbencher from the state legislature who’d been voting present for 10 years? Well, then, they don’t get to complain if/when Republicans choose a first-termer of their own. Ted Cruz will have just as much Senate seasoning on election day 2016 as Obama did on election day 2008; Paul and Rubio will have two years more than that, having each completed a full term. In fact, when you ask Republican voters whether they want a particular candidate to run for president this year, Paul, Cruz, and especially Rubio fare pretty well compared to the rest of the field:
Plenty of current or former governors do more poorly. On that same question, Chris Christie is at 33/45, Bobby Jindal is at 27/33, Rick Perry is at 37/40, Mike Huckabee is at 34/39, and Sarah Palin is at 24/54(!). In fact, Palin’s VP nomination in 2008 leads me to think that righties are more likely to point to Obama’s inexperience as cover for nominating someone inexperienced of their own than as a reason not to nominate that person in the first place. Some GOP strategists complained at the time that putting Palin, a governor for all of two years, on the ticket essentially forfeited McCain’s claim that his campaign stood for experience while Obama’s campaign stood for aimless youthful optimism. That’s not how most on the right saw it, though; adding an inexperienced candidate to the bottom of the ticket was perfectly justifiable if Democrats insisted on putting their own inexperienced candidate at the top. My hunch is that that same attitude will prevail, at least on the right, over the next 18 months, especially since Hillary’s nomination would set up a “youthful hopefulness versus Washington dinosaur” election a la 2008 except with the parties reversed. That impulse may not be wise — why would the country, having suffered through the Obama years, want to try another hopey-changey greenhorn except this time from the GOP? — but it’s human nature to want to re-fight the last war. That’ll help someone like Rubio, albeit maybe not enough to overcome Bush’s gazillion-dollar fundraising advantage.
Frankly, I wonder how much the “we can’t nominate a first-term senator” argument is being driven by personal preference for one of the governors in the field. Scott Walker fans, for instance, will naturally be sympathetic to Scarborough’s argument. So will Jeb Bush’s billionaire buddies. Rank-and-file GOPers, though? I dunno. Again, given the potential contrast with Hillary, I think they’ll accept some inexperience in their 2016 ticket in return for youth and racial diversity. Good news for Rubio, who’ll quite possibly end up on the ticket in the number two spot if he doesn’t win the nomination himself.