Obama is Not a Lifelong Politician

This morning, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney made an appearance on MSNBC with Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, where he made this odd claim about President Obama:

"I think that the only way we’re gonna get President Obama out of the White House - because it’s HARD to replace an incumbent - is if we have someone run against him who is different than a lifelong politician. … There’s nothing wrong with being a lifelong politician: We got one in the White House right now.

I’m not sure if this is a lie—it wouldn’t be Romney’s first—or a misunderstanding, but either way, it’s inaccurate. Barack Obama won his first campaign for the Illinois state senate in 1996, at the age of 35. If we mark that as the beginning of his political career, then Obama has been a “career politician” for the better part of 16 years. Mitt Romney also began his political career in the 1990s; in 1994, he ran an unsuccessful campaign for a Massachusetts Senate seat against Ted Kennedy. And given the extent to which Romney has lived under a long political shadow—his father was governor of Michigan and a one-time presidential candidate—you could say that he’s harbored political ambitions for most of his adult life.

As Romney said, there’s nothing wrong with this. Prospective politicians should have some degree of political ambition; it’s how the system works. As the Bush administration aptly demonstrated, a government staffed with people who don’t care about government is doomed to failure. That Romney is actually interested in the business of government—so much so that he’ll say anything to get elected—is actually a selling point for his candidacy.

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