If there is one thing most of us have heard a lot about the past couple of weeks it is experience. Who has it, who doesn't, who needs it and who we can't give it to.
No one has said, however, where anyone can get experience or how much it costs. If experience is more expensive than empathy, then I don't want any. But if experience is cheaper, than say, melancholy, point me to the checkout lane because I'm buying bulk.
I've heard so many different people talk about experience in so many different ways, I don't know when it is good to have experience or what even qualifies as experience. If I can remember correctly, experience is good if you've been a leader of people, but it is bad if you've ever attended a Fred Thompson charisma seminar.
Most of the speakers at the Republican convention in St. Paul, Minn., went to great lengths to say Sen. Barack Obama does not have enough experience to be our next president. Maybe they are right. But who knows if anyone is ever really ready to have to use 23 different pens to sign their name on a new bill before it becomes law?
The Republican candidate for vice president, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, is thought to be inexperienced by some, but she and others in the Republican Party say she is plenty qualified. They point to her years as a mayor of a small town and her two-plus years as governor as proof she is ready to be a leader. It is above my pay grade to determine who is right and who is wrong, but it is worth posing a philosophical question: If you have experience doing something no one else has seen or heard you do, is it still experience?
One thing not in question, though, is whether anyone who watched more than a minute of the Republican convention is a certifiably experienced listener of people's experiences. Hearing speaker after speaker talk about their own experience or that of Sen. John McCain, his running mate, their cousin or anyone else whose experience might be worth mentioning was well-documented. What is not clear is how many people who watched the conventions were just watching and listening for the experience. Either way, one could definitely mention the experience on their resume.
It might be difficult to comprehend now, but this year's two conventions on experience might just teach all of us something. If politicians can prove both that experience does not matter much and that experience counts, then just maybe experience does not mean anything at all.
Or as former college football coach Jim Donnan told a reporter who asked about the importance of experience: "You wouldn't want a bunch of experienced kamikaze pilots would you?" Right indeed. So hold off on signing up for that Fred Thompson charisma seminar.