June 24, 2008, 7:10 am Political Wisdom: Obama Really Is Experienced Alan Ehrenhalt, writing as a special guest columnist for Newsweek, argues that we shouldnt dismiss or denigrate the most important piece of Sen. Barack Obamas political resume, his considerable time in the Illinois state legislature. While not refuting that Sen. John McCain has more experience, Ehrenhalt writes: But heres something I bet you didnt know: If Obama becomes president, he will have spent more time serving as a state legislator (eight years) than anyone who has occupied the White House since Abraham Lincoln. And that counts for something: During the years that Obama served in Springfield, 1997-2005, he was forced to wrestle with the minutiae of health-care policy, utility deregulation, transportation funding, school aid, and a host of other issues that are vitally important to Americas coming years, but that U.S. senators are usually able to dispose of with a quick once-over . And perhaps most important, there is simply more personal contact across the aisle than there is in Congress. Legislatures have grown more partisan in the past decade, as all of American politics has. But in most state capitols, the wall of partisan separation is nowhere near as high as it is in Washington. Sen. John McCain, in endorsing a resumption of offshore oil drilling, is making a calculated gamble that high gas prices have trumped voters desire to protect the environment, write Cathleen Decker and Michael Finnegan in the Los Angeles Times. McCain has sided with the GOP establishment on a hugely symbolic issue that has long helped motivate the independent voters whose support he needs to claim the White House. The move is unpopular in big parts of California, and with Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, with whom McCain is to appear on an environmental panel Tuesday, Decker and Finnegan write. But theres a trade-off: Political analysts, including Republicans, said McCains stance suggested a trade-off winning votes in key Midwest states on the issue at the cost of losing them in California. McCain is essentially conceding what would have been an uphill fight in California in order to strengthen his opportunities in states like Michigan and Ohio, said Dan Schnur, a Republican consultant who worked for McCain in 2000. He added: Whether this plays in Santa Barbara is much less important than how it plays in Columbus, Ohio. Obamas decision to forgo public financing was certainly an opportunistic one, writes The Washington Posts E. J. Dionne. But the question is whether it will mark the end of campaign finance reform or instead remind us that even good reforms need to be reformed, or else they wither and die, Dionne writes. There are lessons to draw from Obamas decision, for example we do know that special-interest money will not go away. We also know that until Congress allowed the system to fall out of date, public financing worked. Whats needed is a new system, one that responds to new circumstances. Reforming such a system means updating outdated spending limits, and sealing legal loopholes for supposedly independent groups and parties. So heres a touchy topic that both sides of the aisle have flubbed: what the political effect of a terrorist attack would be between now and the election, writes ABC News Jake Tapper. The most recent person to insensitively address the issue was McCain aide Charlie Black, who said an attack in the U.S. would spur a big advantage politically for McCain. But Sen. Hillary Clinton essentially said the same thing in August 2007. The thing is, as crass as both their comments were, theyre pretty accurate. Blacks comments were less carefully phrased than Clintons, clearly, but the general idea is the same: national security is an area where Republicans have an advantage, and a terrorist attack God forbid would make that issue more compelling in the minds of voters. Of course, how one discusses such issues is crucial.