Feature:Opinion

The Obama experience

Photo of J. Peder Zane
J. Peder Zane
Author, Design in Nature
  • See All Articles
  • Subscribe to RSS
  • Bio

      J. Peder Zane

      J. Peder Zane is journalist who has worked at The News & Observer of Raleigh and The New York Times. His writing has won several national awards including the Distinguished Writing Award for Commentary from the American Society of Newspaper Editors.


      He has contributed to and edited two books published by W.W. Norton, “The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books” (2007) and “Remarkable Reads: 34 Writers and Their Adventures in Reading” (2004). He is a former Board Member of the National Book Critics Circle. He is completing a book with Professor Adrian Bejan of Duke University titled “The Law of Life: The Scientific Principle Behind Evolution and Design in Nature.”


      He teaches Mass Communication and Journalism at St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh.

The 2012 election is quickly moving from tragedy to farce. For evidence, consider the current attack on Mitt Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital.

With a straight face, President Obama is questioning whether Romney’s experience building a multi-billion-dollar business suggests he might know something about the economy. In all seriousness, seemingly intelligent journalists are echoing this line of attack in interviews with Romney and his surrogates.

In other words, four years ago, as America faced an historic economic crisis, a man who had failed to distinguish himself as a community organizer, part-time law professor and state and U.S. senator, was the man for the job. Today, as the economy continues to stumble, someone who spent two decades as a wildly successful business person — and later as a governor — has the wrong background to right the ship.

The presidency is, of course, like no other job. It requires such a broad set of skills that one’s previous vocation is less important than one’s intelligence, character and flexibility. That’s why our greatest leaders have included military leaders (Washington), lawyers (Lincoln), a haberdasher (Truman) and an actor (Reagan). It is one reason why, in 2008, a majority of voters looked past Obama’s lack of experience, hoping that he possessed other, even more important qualities. Oops!

If Obama were arguing that the presidency is about much more than the economy, his attack on Romney might resonate. Instead, he is asserting that Romney’s business background makes him less qualified to help revive America’s businesses.

Taking the president’s lead, next time your car won’t start, call a plumber. If your lights go out, hire a house painter. If your computer breaks, get it right over to your local bakery.

Obama does have one thing right. If you’re a Democrat who wants to make a ridiculous claim, put it out there and watch the mainstream media carry your water like Gunga Din. While they’re at it, they’ll suggest that your long-time relationships with extremists such as Rev. Jeremiah Wright and William Ayers are irrelevant while your opponent’s one-time appearance at an event with one of the most famous men in America, Donald Trump, is a sign of moral turpitude.

It would be a farce if it weren’t so tragic.

J. Peder Zane is the author, with Adrian Bejan, of “Design in Nature: How the Constructal Law Governs Evolution in Biology, Physics, Technology, and Social Organization.”