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October 23, 1988|MICHAEL KINSLEY

The question of "experience" is another matter (like the environment) that the Bush campaign has done a brilliant job of inverting. Dukakis' eight-year experience as governor, it seems to me, compares favorably to Bush's mostly ceremonial "experience" in Washington, which has left no noticeable mark on anything.

The truth is that no particular qualification is essential for the job of President, and none truly suffices.

Every path to the presidency is fortuitous, and yet Bush's may be unique in not involving any special display of any of the qualities of experience, intelligence, ideological commitment, integrity, or inspirational ability one might hope to find in a President.

This presidential campaign demonstrates that genuine experience has become a disadvantage in American politics. The richer your record, the more material there is for your opponent's negative researchers, looking for nuggets to blow out of proportion or misrepresent. Meanwhile, the more you've actually accomplished, the harder it is for your own professional handlers to remake you from scratch to fit current needs.

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