Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Hillary's Inexperience

Patrick Healy shreds Hillary's claim that eight Years as president Clinton's wife gives her special experience for the presidency:

But during those two terms in the White House, Mrs. Clinton did not hold a security clearance. She did not attend National Security Council meetings. She was not given a copy of the president’s daily intelligence briefing. She did not assert herself on the crises in Somalia, Haiti and Rwanda.

And during one of President Bill Clinton’s major tests on terrorism, whether to bomb Afghanistan and Sudan in 1998, Mrs. Clinton was barely speaking to her husband, let alone advising him, as the Lewinsky scandal sizzled.
Hillary's high-profile role in the failed health care initiative of the early 1990s is well known, but little is known about her involvement in foreign policy and national security.

Healy interviewed talked with 35 Clinton administration officials and reviewed books about Hillary's White House years concludes Hillary was little more than a sounding board, and learned through osmosis rather than decision-making:
She did not wrestle directly with many of the other challenges the next president will face, including managing a large-scale deployment — or withdrawal — of troops abroad, an overhaul of the intelligence agencies or the effort to halt the spread of nuclear weapons technology. Most of her exposure to the military has come since she left the White House through her seat on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

[. . .]

Asked to name three major foreign policy decisions where she played a decisive role as first lady, Mrs. Clinton responded in generalities more than specifics, describing her strategic roles on trips to Bosnia, Kosovo, Northern Ireland, India, Africa and Latin America.

Asked to cite a significant foreign policy object lesson from the 1990s, Mrs. Clinton also replied with broad observations. “There are a lot of them,” she said. “The whole unfortunate experience we’ve had with the Bush administration, where they haven’t done what we’ve needed to do to reach out to the rest of the world, reinforces my experience in the 1990s that public diplomacy, showing respect and understanding of people’s different perspectives — it’s more likely to at least create the conditions where we can exercise our values and pursue our interests.”
Hillary wasn't involved in one of Bill Clinton’s hardest moments on national security — the 1998 bombings of the United States Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and subsequently whether to bomb Afghanistan and Sudan. Hillary was barely speaking to Bill at the time. It was right after Bill acknowledged to the public and a grand jury that he had an inappropriate relationship with his intern, Monica Lewinsky:
“It was the height of Monica, and they were barely talking to each other, if at all,” said one senior national security official who spoke with both Clintons during that time.
Other Clinton administration officials, are skeptical that the couple’s conversations and Hilary's 79 trips abroad add up to presidential experience:
She was not independently judging intelligence, for the most part, or mediating the data, egos and agendas of a national security team. And, in the end, she did not feel or process the weight of responsibility.

Susan Rice, a National Security Council senior aide and State Department official under Mr. Clinton who now advises Mr. Obama, said Mrs. Clinton was not involved in “the heavy lifting of foreign policy.” Ms. Rice also took issue with a recent comment by a Clinton campaign official that Mrs. Clinton was “the face of the administration in foreign affairs.”Suhaarafat

“Making tough decisions, responding to crises, making the bureaucracy implement decisions that they may not want to implement — that’s the hard part of foreign policy,” Ms. Rice said. “That’s not what Mrs. Clinton was asked or expected to do as first lady.”
Then there is the time in 1999 when Hillary sat silently through an event on the West Bank as the wife of Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat, accused Israel of poisoning Palestinian women and children with toxic gases. Hillary was sharply criticized for not confronting Mrs. Arafat over her remarks and for kissing her goodbye afterward. Hillary later admitted attending the event with Suha Arafat on the West Bank was a mistake.

As I've said before, Hillary is uniquely inexperienced to be president.

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