Distortion of the Day: Obama’s Experience

One of the favorite talking points of some of my Republican friends is that Barack Obama only had 143 days of “actual work experience” before he announced his Presidential campaign. I had heard this many times, but I’d never stopped to investigate. Turns out it’s more than a little misleading, if not a downright falsehood. Obama was sworn in as a Senator in January 2005 and announced his candidacy in February 2007, more than two years later. So where did the 143 day figure come from? I can’t tell for sure, but I suspect that it refers to the number of days that the Senate was in session AND Obama was there. Even if that’s the case (and I’m checking), this is misleading for two reasons:

  1. To imply that a United States Senator is only working when Congress is in session demonstrates either malice or stupidity. Do these people honestly believe that for the other 600 or so days that Obama was a Senator, he was kicking back at home with a beer?
  2. If Obama’s experience only counts for when Congress was in session, then isn’t the same true for McCain? So I would expect that Republicans will downgrade McCain’s 26-year Senate career to only about ten years or so. The idiocy of this reflects the idiocy of claiming that Obama only has 143 days of work experience.

This is just another clear example of how some Republicans are willing to twist and malign the truth in order to build the case they want to build. But if their case is worth building, then it certainly doesn’t need the help of a lie. This is so clear in this example, as two years of Senate experience stacked against Senate 26 years of experience makes the case just as well as 143 days against 26 years. Why lie? Why not stay above reproach?

Here’s some more info and sources…I want to dig a little deeper into the 143-day number to see if that’s even true, but even if it is, it’s still very misleading.


1) Cheri Jacobus posted her article on The Loft, the blog for GOPUSA, on May 5, 2008 :

2) Barack Obama took the oath of office for the Senate on January 4, 2005:

3) Barack Obama announced his presidential exploratory committee on January 16, 2007:

4) Barack Obama made his formal announcement speech on February 10, 2007:

5) The US Senate was in session for the following number of days since Barack Obama took office:
2005 – 136 days
2006 – 136 days
2007 – 180 days
2008 – 136 days as of Sept 12