Comparing her to Obama strictly on the level of experience and she wins.
To be perfectly clear, I am talking about comparisons of their overall qualifications for the Presidency. My point is that focusing on "number of years in an executive role" as you do is an oversimplification. I didn't really want lay out what is clearly documented elsewhere as it provides ample opportunity for partisans to continue to stick their fingers in their ears, but here goes:
Palin's background is:
1987 - BS Journalism - University of Idaho
1988 to 1992 - Television Sports Reporter
1992 to 1996 - City Council, Wasilla, Alaska
1996 - 2002 - Mayor, Wasilla
2003 - 2004 - Appointed to Alaska Oil Ethics Board
2006 - Present Governor of Alaska, the 48th smallest state in terms of population, whose largest metropolitan area is less than a quarter of the population of Nashville, Tennessee.
Obama's background is:
1983 - BA Political Science - Columbia University
1985 - 1988 - Director of a community non-profit
1988 - 1991 - JD Harvard, President of the Harvard Law Review
1992 - 2004 - Part time Professor, Constitutional Law, University of Chicago
1992 - 2002 - Lawyer - Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland
1992 - Served on the board of a large number of public interest organizations
1997 - 2004 - State legislature, Illinois (America's 5th most populous state, containing its 3rd most populous city.)
2005 - Present - United States Senator
If you were hiring a business manager, perhaps you might prefer Palin. Obama is a lawyer and like most lawyers has not had large organizations reporting to him. Palin clearly does have more time in an executive role. But thats not what we're doing here. Furthermore, just about any executive at a medium to large sized company anywhere in America would beat out Palin for executive experience. They are not all qualified to be President of the United States. The question is, what qualifies a person to be President.
Chiefly, the President of the United States is responsible for making policy decisions, which is not merely a matter of operational experience in an executive role, but a matter of understanding the long term implications of those decisions and the complicated legal and political context in which they will play out. This requires a deep understanding of our country and of world affairs.
There is absolutely nothing about Palin's background that qualifies her to grapple with the depth of these matters. If she is capable of doing so, nothing about her background indicates it or would prepare her for it. You cannot simply skip from being Mayor of a tiny town in Alaska to being President. The idea that you could hold up this person next to someone who, among other things, has taught constitutional law at one of the top law schools in the country for 12 years, and say their qualification for the Presidency is comparable...
Frankly I can't find words to express this more clearly than to say that I think thats fucking idiotic. In fact its exactly the kind of fucking idiotic thinking that partisans have been foisting on this country repeatedly over the past few years in their cynical power struggles. It is frustrating to me that so many people that I know who are otherwise reasonable and intelligent are willing to buy into something which is so transparently stupid, particularly given the gravity of whats at stake here.
Sure, I'd be more comfortable if Obama had spent time in an executive roll, thats a perfectly valid criticism of his record. But you cannot reasonably hold up Palin and say that her qualifications are comparable to Obama. That makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
It may be idiotic, but the people like and will elect unqualified populist candidates. They dislike 'elitism' and Obama's qualifications also make him seem an 'elitist.' That is why the 'fucking stupid' argument is being touted by so many, who aren't voting on policy or ability but on values.
An extreme (and foreign) example of this is that there are literally illiterate BJP members of Indian Parliament who beat out their better educated and more tolerant opponents because of their populist appeal.