Mrs. Clin­ton’s ‘ex­pe­ri­ence’

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - Tony Blank­ley

Hav­ing spent much of my adult life in pol­i­tics, it would be silly at this late date to be shocked by the dis­cov­ery of in­sin­cer­ity and mis­lead­ing state­ments com­ing from lead­ing can­di­dates for pres­i­dent. But if I have seen too much of the world to be shocked, at least I can still be ap­palled. And, the gen­tle lady, the ju­nior sen­a­tor from the Em­pire State, con­tin­ues to ap­pall.

Con­sider the fol­low­ing As­so­ci­ated Press story from last week: “The econ­omy needs help and fast, Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton de­clared Mon­day, claim­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence for the job and say­ing the na­tion can’t af­ford to break in a new­comer [. . .] There is one job we can‘t af­ford on­the-job train­ing for — our next pres­i­dent. That could be the costli­est job train­ing in his­tory,” Mrs. Clin­ton said. “Ev­ery day spent learn­ing the ropes is an­other day of ris­ing costs, mount­ing deficits and grow­ing anx­i­ety for our fam­i­lies. And they can­not af­ford to keep wait­ing.”

For months, Mrs. Clin­ton has hinted that Sen. Barack Obama, less than three years into his first Se­nate term, lacks the prepa­ra­tion to deal with U.S. for­eign pol­icy chal­lenges. In her Nov. 19 ad­dress, she sug­gested the na­tion’s bud­get deficit, in­come in­equal­ity and lack of com­pre­hen­sive health cov­er­age also re­quired a more ex­pe­ri­enced stew­ard.

“We need a pres­i­dent who un­der- stands the mag­ni­tude and com­plex­ity of the chal­lenges we face and has the strength and ex­pe­ri­ence to ad­dress them from day one,” she said.

Good grief. What plau­si­ble claim does Miss Hil­lary have to ex­pe­ri­ence in man­ag­ing a na­tional econ­omy, bal­anc­ing a bud­get or fix­ing in­come in­equal­ity? Even on health care, ac­cord­ing to her hus­band, the as­pir­ing “First Louse” (he wants to be called First Lad­die, but I think the deriva­tion from First Spouse works bet­ter) claims that she didn’t have much to do with Hil­laryCare — it was his fault.

Is the na­tional me­dia ac­tu­ally go­ing to ac­cept with­out even a mur­mur of skep­ti­cism Mrs. Clin­ton’s claim to pos­sess all the ex­pe­ri­ence gained by her hus­band as pres­i­dent? If Mr. Obama (or for that mat­ter any other can­di­date in ei­ther party) were to claim such ex­pe­ri­ence, a re­porter might well ask him on what ba­sis he claims such ex­pe­ri­ence. And, by the way, the same charge can be laid at Rudy Gi­u­liani (a can­di­date I am more fa­vor­ably dis­posed to­ward) when he claims ex­pe­ri­ence in for­eign pol­icy. While I like his gen­eral at­ti­tude to­ward for­eign pol- icy, he doesn’t in fact have ex­pe­ri­ence or ex­per­tise in the mat­ter.

This is an im­por­tant point. There is a dif­fer­ence be­tween a can­di­date hav­ing a par­tic­u­lar pol­icy and hav­ing ex­pe­ri­ence in man­ag­ing such a pol­icy. If Mrs. Clin­ton claims she has the best ideas about our na- tional econ­omy, she is en­ti­tled to claim that. So­cial­ists will agree; cap­i­tal­ists will dis­agree. But she should not be al­lowed to claim, with­out me­dia cor­rec­tion, that she has ex­pe­ri­ence at man­ag­ing the na­tional econ­omy.

If I were ad­vis­ing a can­di­date who was run­ning against her, I would lay into her loudly and of­ten with a chal­lenge to her claim of ex­pe­ri­ence. If she was ac­tu­ally man­ag­ing the na­tional econ­omy from 1993-2000 from her perch as wife of the pres­i­dent, let her re­lease White House doc­u­ments show­ing her ac­tive par­tic­i­pa­tion in such man­age- ment. When I worked in the Rea­gan White House, I wrote hun­dreds of memos on my ar­eas of re­spon­si­bil­ity. There was a pa­per trail. If Mrs. Clin­ton was ac­tu­ally do­ing what she im­plies she was do­ing, there will be a long pa­per trail of memos that she ei­ther wrote or com­mented upon.

For ex­am­ple, some of the docu- ments stolen from the Na­tional Archives by Sandy Berger, Mrs. Clin­ton’s na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser (I sup­pose, fol­low­ing Mrs. Clin­ton’s claim, Mr. Clin­ton’s ap­pointees should also be con­sid­ered hers) are be­lieved to be doc­u­ments writ­ten by oth­ers with pres­i­den­tial com­ments in the mar­gin. Let’s have Mrs. Clin­ton re­lease all the na­tional eco­nomic man­age­ment doc­u­ments writ­ten by her eco­nomic ad­vis­ers with her com­ments on the mar­gins. Let’s see the op­tion mem­o­randa with her de­ci­sions in­di­cated, or even her own mem­o­randa ad­dressed to the pres­i­dent on the topic. At the min­i­mum let‘s see the mem­o­randa pro­duced by economists from the first lady’s staff on the topic.

But of course, this is all ris­i­ble, be­cause back dur­ing her hus­band’s pres­i­dency she never even claimed to be in­volved in man­ag­ing the na­tional econ­omy. Isn’t it time for The Wash­ing­ton Post to do one of its ex­cel­lent deep re­search pieces in which they re­view in de­tail what sub­stan­tive is­sues Mrs. Clin­ton was deeply in­volved in from 1993-2000? Other than keep­ing an eye on Mr. Clin­ton, let’s find out at what else she ac­tu­ally has ex­pe­ri­ence at.

Tony Blank­ley is ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent for global pub­lic af­fairs at Edel­man In­ter­na­tional. He is also a visit­ing se­nior fel­low at the Her­itage Foun­da­tion.

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