For those of who you saw Sen. Chris Dodd on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, you’ll recall that he called Dodd the “resume candidate.” Stewart mentioned, “You have a very solid resume. Youre a guy who people should look at paper and go that guyd be a good president.” This idea has been repeated by others; the Courant once called Dodd the one with the “golden resume.” But, is Sen. Dodd really the “resume candidate”?
Part I: Early Life and Education
In theory, the perfect presidential candidate would have had a childhood in which he had to overcome certain obstacles so we know that our president is able to overcome challenges and hasn’t had an easy and privileged life. After graduating from a public high school, he then would have attended a top university, haven gotten in by his merit, preferably a top school with universal name recognition, in order to demonstrate intelligence. A further degree would be a must; either a M.B.A. or a J.D. would be best, if not both.
Of the three major candidates and Dodd, Dodd’s early life resume is the weakest. Edwards grew up in a middle-class family; he was the first one from his family to attend college. He attended public universities for both his bachelor’s and law degree, so while not ideal, certainly shows his middle-class background. Hillary, also middle-class, attended Wellesley, fairly prestigious, after public high school, and finished her education with the very prestigious Yale Law School. Obama, with his degrees from Columbia and Harvard, has a great resume too, though his confessions of drug usage, including cocaine, will tarnish his accomplishments. Dodd’s father was a U.S. Senator, so Dodd hasn’t really had to overcome anything in life. In fact, he was pretty much handed everything. He attended an expensive private high school, yet attended Providence College as a legacy. While not a bad school, for the son of a U.S. Senator coming from private school, it isn’t great, and I’m curious as to why he didn’t try to go to (or couldn’t get into) a better-known private school, or at least a cheaper public school.
Part II: Career and Accomplishments
For the second half of life, until the presidential run, the ideal candidate would have been a war hero and would be successful in the real world, perhaps a self-made businessman, before finally showing competence in a high-level government position. Thus, he would have military experience, imperative for the Commander-in-Chief, as well as experience in the private sector. Dodd is the only one of the four with military experience, albeit only the Army Reserve. He also is the only one who served in the Peace Corps, certainly a plus. So, I would say he might have an edge in this second half. Obama worked his way up from lawyer to professor to state senator to U.S. Senator, an admirable path of self-improvement. Hillary certainly falters here, as she rides on the success of her husband. Edwards made the jump from successful trial lawyer (though his medical malpractice suits have irked doctors across the nation) to U.S. Senator. All four are U.S Senators, and while Dodd has served the longest, Dodd hasn’t become known for anything. In fact, he hasn’t really done a whole lot in the Senate, given how long he has spent there.
Part III: Overall Perspective
So, while many people have called Dodd the one with the best resume in the race, I don’t agree. The first half of his life is decidedly less impressive than those of of competitors’, and while the second part may be somewhat better on paper, there isn’t much substance to it. For example, it was only the Army Reserve, he was in the Peace Corps for only two years and has had few legislative accomplishments in a long career full of regrettable votes on issues like Iraq. While I do not mean to detract from his success, he does not unquestionably have the “golden resume,” and some of his competitors arguably look even better on paper. For example, Dodd has not show any ability to be successful in the private sector and his familial ties make me question how much he would have done without influential parents.
Don’t vote for Dodd just because you think he has the best resume. If that’s all your after, vote for Mitt Romney, who has the best resume I’ve seen, as an honor student at Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School and an extremely experienced businessman, among other accomplishments. But a resume shouldn’t be all you’re after, and while it is definitely important, it should be in context of a candidate’s character and values, and that is mostly a decision each voter will make for himself.
Wikipedia links referenced with the candidates own webpages