Wednesday, March 5, 2008

What's in a resume?

SUMMARY: The wide range of backgrounds in the presidential field has got the candidates sparring over who has the most exprience, but historians point out that resumes don't always tell you much about how someone might perform in office.

This President of the United States gig is pretty unique.

It’s a job that looks after the interest of 301 million people and an economy of $13-trillion.

Yet there are few prerequisites. You don’t need to speak Spanish or be proficient in Excel, just be native born, older than 35, and able to raise gobs of cash.

Of the 43 people who have held the job, all were white men and more than two-thirds were trained in law. Almost all had extensive public service records before they were elected.

But their backgrounds vary enough to make it clear there is no sure path to the White House. Sixteen were governors, eleven were generals, nine were teachers. There was a tailor, a mining engineer, a newspaper editor.

“What are voters looking for?” said Don Ritchie, associate historian in the U.S. Senate Historical Office. “It’s hard to say.”

Story continues below the chart