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Posted by on Sep 9, 2007 in At TMV | 10 comments

Hillary’s Experience

Lately there havve been some attacks on Hillary Clinton. The main line of attack these days: she says she’s experienced, but she’s not as experienced as she likes to pretend she is. Obama even went so far as to say that he wonders since when “First Lady” is considered experience for a presidential candidate. Republicans have basically adopted the same line of attack and we can expect these attacks coming from both Clinton’s Democratic and Republican enemies to intensify in the coming weeks and months. It sounds nice, Obama scored some points when he said what he said about Clinton putting First Lady on her resumé, but I believe that critics of Clinton are wrong to pretend that her having been First Lady doesn’t ‘count’ as valid experience.

What’s remarkable is that many of those who now criticize her for not having so much experience since she was just a First Lady, are the same ones who criticized Hilary Clinton when she was First Lady for having too much influence: two for the price of one and all that. Suddenly, these people seem to have forgotten (and conveniently so) how much power and influence Hillary had as first lady. She wasn’t the average First Lady. She wasn’t a First Lady like Laura Bush. She was a First Lady who had an agenda of her own and who actively supported her husband(‘s policies). If you read books about the Clinton presidency, whether those books be written by the Clintons themselves or by independent observers like Van Natta and Gerth, one thing becomes very clear: Hillary Clinton wasn’t as much a First Lady as she was a second and powerful Vice President. In effect you could say that Bill Clinton had two VPs which is exactly why Hillary and Al Gore couldn’t stand each other. They were rivals.

Hillary Clinton was the one who made health care her issue. Bill Clinton wanted to reform the health care system and he put his wife in charge of the project (to do this). Sure, she failed, but it did give her a lot of experience and taught her some valuable and important lessons. One of the lessons she learned, as she often says herself, is that she learned that in Washington, you need to take your time if you want to change things. Pushing through legislation as fast as possible often doesn’t work. You’ve got to compromise, you’ve got to listen to the other side and you’ve got to give critics something in return for their support. This project alone gave Clinton more experience than Obama has collected in his entire political life (same goes for Edwards).

Besides, health care wasn’t the only issue she was involved in. She did more than that. She was also actively involved in Bill Clinton’s project to reform the welfare system. She was also actively involved in foreign policy decisions her husband made. Bill Clinton made his own decision, but Hillary was his most trusted adviser. When he wasn’t sure about what policy or strategy to pursue he asked her and she gave him her opinion. Whether he did what she advised him to do or not, point is he relied as much on her political wisdom and intelligence as on anyone else’s.

I think it’s time to put the experience issue to rest. Obama and Edwards have far less experience than Hillary Clinton. Not only was Hillary Clinton active before she married Bill Clinton, after their marriage she continued to be active in politics and help her husband. The Clintons are a team. This resulted, in the end, in a First Lady who was more like a VP than a traditional VP. As First Lady she gained more experience and she even led big projects. After the Clintons left the White House, she became Senator from the State of New York, which she has been now for 7 years. If she becomes president, she’ll have been a very influential First Lady for eight years and Senator for eight years as well. The only Democratic candidate with as much or more experience as she has is Bill Richardson, and Richardson has no chance of winning the nomination. No, if you believe experience is an important issue, Clinton would be a sound choice.

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Copyright 2007 The Moderate Voice
  • Stealth1

    The experience being discussed in this post is that of simply being in the executive branch and working within it which I agree Hillary was and did. However, when her rivals needle her about the experience question, particularly Obama, what they are really talking about is experience as an elected official. There is a marked difference between being the wife of an elected official and being an elected official. No matter what you say about the media reports contending Hillary’s disproportionate influence as first lady, she still was not an elected official and as such did not have people whom she was actually accountable for. Influence or not this line of reasoning means that Laura Bush is almost as experienced as Hillary to be President.

    Furthermore this experience question was already rendered a moot point as years of experience does not make for good leadership, just look at Bush or Cheyney.

  • LL

    Obama even went so far as to say that he wonders since when “First Lady” is considered experience for a presidential candidate.

    It’s quite ironic for Obama to be questioning Hillary’s experience since he himself is quite short on experience. This is the pot calling the kettle black. But Obama counts on his race making him immune from too harsh criticism and anyone questioning his qualifications to be president. Anyhow, she wasn’t merely First Lady, she has been a Senator for the past 7 years. When exactly did Obama first take office?

  • LL

    However, when her rivals needle her about the experience question, particularly Obama, what they are really talking about is experience as an elected official.

    How long has obama been an elected official? He took office as a U.S. Senator in 2005, and even if you count his having been an Illinois state senator as “experience” qualifying him for president which I don’t, he was elected to that office in 1996. So he has 10 years as an elected official overall, a little more than 2 1/2 years in national office. Exactly what makes him more qualified than Hillary. I hate this SOB obama as well as his ignorant supporters. And I’m sick of the media and his supporters fawning over him.

  • Lynx

    hate this SOB obama as well as his ignorant supporters.

    Ah, the smell of unity and moderation is in the air!

    In any case it is true that Hillary has more experience than Obama, though he has spent more time as an elected official than she has. He’d likely not be running if he weren’t black and she’d likely not be running if her last name weren’t “Clinton”. I still find him to be by far the more principled of the two candidates, and the only one of the two that can hope to heal some of the polarization that has ripped this country apart.

    Well, except for LL, I guess. Care to explain why Obama is an SOB? Quite something that, even Rush Limbaugh has never gone that far.

  • George Sorwell

    Hillary has won election to statewide office twice.

  • Well, given that LL believes that Obama is counting on his race to somehow immunize him from hard questions I think we can guess at least part of why he considers him an SOB.

  • domajot

    Not only has Hillary been elected TWICE, she was elected by large margins in upstate, very Republican areas.

    That is at the crux of why Republican politicians hate ther. They fear her ablitily to attract votes from the ranks of Republicans.

    I have my own issues with Hillary, but they are most definitely not issues of lack of experience or competence. Her work of the Armed Services Committe has been lauded by members of both parties familiar with her performance.

  • flyerhawk

    Michael,

    While I generally find the importance of experience to be wildly overrated I do think you are giving Hillary much too much credit..

    . Pushing through legislation as fast as possible often doesn’t work. You’ve got to compromise, you’ve got to listen to the other side and you’ve got to give critics something in return for their support. This project alone gave Clinton more experience than Obama has collected in his entire political life (same goes for Edwards).

    So she learned how to be a Congresswoman while she was a first lady? How exactly do Obama or Edwards not have this experience? Obama has already written and sponsored several bills that have been passed.

  • StockBoySF

    Hands down Hillary has more experience. Obama’s comments on what he views as her lack of experience may have won him some points in certain circles- but these comments did nothing for me. (By the way, I’m a HUGE Obama supporter and I realize that I’m not going to agree with everything he says.) One person above made the comment on this post that Hillary was not an elected official and did not have the experience of representing people she was actually accountable to. While I agree with the statement itself, Hillary still needed to get things done. In order to do so she had to woo over people who were elected. She couldn’t use the tactic, “My constituents need this…. ” and negotiate from there. Instead Hillary had to show the congressmen how they would benefit from passing certain legislation. In other words I think she was starting negotiations from a disadvantaged standpoint and she had to make up for that. Now that she’s a Senator we’ve all seen how she’s reached across the aisle to work with Republicans on legislation.

    I would like to add that no one has experience at being President until they’re actually in the office. Of all the candidates (Dem and Rep) Hillary has come the closest to having that experience. As First Lady she personally watched Bill’s battles, giving him advice on how to proceed. Then she watched the result and was able to see what worked and what didn’t. Sure Bill made the final decision, but he always considered her opinion. Even if you feel that Hillary is inexperienced you still must remember that Hillary is smart and deft, which is probably most of the battle when it comes to getting your way in politics.

    If I were voting for experience alone, I would vote for Hillary. But I support Obama because I feel that he is less polarizing than Hillary and will tend to domestic issues (i.e. crime, education, etc. especially when it comes to disadvantaged Americans) that affect those Americans who aren’t part of Bush’s demographic (rich and self-serving) supporters.

  • Sam

    “Of all the candidates (Dem and Rep) Hillary has come the closest to having that experience.”

    Very much disagree with this. Richardson fits this bill. The closest thing to be the president is to be a state governor. Also, Richardson has international experience, worked as Secretary of Energy, and 14 years in Congress. I find it funny when folks compare Clinton and Obama, who for all intents are equal experience wise, when there is Richardson who blows them both out of the water.

    All in all I do not agree that Hillary’s first lady time counts. As mentioned earlier she was not an elected official and therefore did not carry the burden and responsibility of making things happen. She was essentially a very active staffer and that is not the same thing.

    Also, her service so far as Senator has been so so. Nothing great, nothing horrendous.

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