Patterico's Pontifications


Hillary vs Obama on Foreign Policy Experience

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 11:27 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

I haven’t paid much attention to the Democratic primaries but it’s hard not to notice the duel Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have had over who has the most foreign policy experience. Obama has relied on his experiences as a child living in and visiting other countries, and specifically on his knowledge of “how ordinary people in these other countries live” and the understanding he’s gained from having a grandmother who “lives in a tiny hut in Africa”.

Hillary Clinton has also touted her personal experiences from 8 years as First Lady during her husband’s Administration:

“As first lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton jaw-boned the authoritarian president of Uzbekistan to leave his car and shake hands with people. She argued with the Czech prime minister about democracy. She cajoled Roman Catholic and Protestant women to talk to one another in Northern Ireland. She traveled to 79 countries in total, little of it leisure; one meeting with mutilated Rwandan refugees so unsettled her that she threw up afterward.

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.

In seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, Mrs. Clinton lays claim to two traits nearly every day: strength and experience. But as the junior senator from New York, she has few significant legislative accomplishments to her name. She has cast herself, instead, as a first lady like no other: a full partner to her husband in his administration, and, she says, all the stronger and more experienced for her “eight years with a front-row seat on history.”

Now, in an Iowa speech Saturday night, Hillary Clinton turned up the rhetoric when she revealed a story of personal danger:

“Ever since Barack Obama suggested Hillary Clinton’s eight years as first lady were a glorified tea party a few days back, she’s looked for an opening to strike back. On Saturday night in Dubuque she pounced, arguing she risked her life on White House missions in the 1990s, including a hair-raising flight into Bosnia that ended in a “corkscrew” landing and a sprint off the tarmac to dodge snipers. “I don’t remember anyone offering me tea,” she quipped.

The dictum around the Oval Office in the ’90s, she added, was: “If a place was too dangerous, too poor or too small, send the first lady.”

It turns out that Clinton wasn’t quite flying solo into harm’s way that day. She was, in fact, leading a goodwill entourage that included baggy-pants funnyman Sinbad, singer Sheryl Crow and Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea, then 15, according to an account of the March 1995 trip in her autobiography “Living History.”

As the plane approached the runway, the pilot ordered the Clintons into the armored front of the plane, Clinton writes. What’s not clear is whether Sinbad or Crow were invited to the cockpit or had to brave it out in the unprotected rear.”

Based on this article, Hillary’s quote should have been “If a place was too dangerous, too poor or too small, send the first lady, Sinbad, and Sheryl Crow.” But it makes sense her story included Hollywood celebrities since I can’t tell if Hillary is auditioning to be the next President or for the sequel to Air Force One.


28 Responses to “Hillary vs Obama on Foreign Policy Experience”

  1. Hillary’s recounting of her vast experience and life of danger proves that if the presidential thing doesn’t work out for her she has a great future ahead as a writer for SNL.

    MikeD (d8f7c4)

  2. Was this before or after the death of Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown in Croatia?

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  3. Obama has relied on his experiences as a child living in and visiting other countries, and specifically on his knowledge of “how ordinary people in these other countries live” and the understanding he’s gained from having a grandmother who “lives in a tiny hut in Africa”.

    Hmm, does he know what country he’s running of President for?

    nk (c87736)

  4. I’ll bet a one-pound fillet mignon dinner, with oven-baked potatoes, salad, fresh bread, a nice wine and a nice bourbon for pre-dinner drinks, that Ricahrdson wins Iowa and New Hampshire. No dessert, we’ll finish the bottle.

    nk (c87736)

  5. I can’t eat a whole 1 pound filet. Otherwise, you’re on.

    DRJ (09f144)

  6. Seriously, are the Democrats so stupid as to pick any of the three front-running clowns?

    nk (c87736)

  7. It’s a big tent, NK.

    DRJ (09f144)

  8. It’s a 3-ring circus with no main or supporting acts – just the clowns.
    And (of course) Markos, who is subbing for whichever animal that eats its’ young.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  9. Speaking on a taped interview broadcast today on ABC’s “This Week,” the New York senator also defended her role as first lady in the Bill Clinton White House as giving her the experience that her opponents for the presidential nomination can’t match. While she lacked a security clearance, she said she often received “classified information.”

    Ahem And just when is Hillary! going to be called on this?

    Darleen (187edc)

  10. NK – “Seriously, are the Democrats so stupid as to pick any of the three front-running clowns?”

    David Brooks agrees with you, saying Friday:

    “I think, if Democrats somehow lose this election, they are going to look back and say, why didn’t we just nominate Joe Biden or Chris Dodd? These guys are safe, generic Democrats. They have an 80 percent chance of winning. The others have big downsides. I’m mystified that Joe Biden and Chris Dodd have not gotten more attention.”

    Dubium (0a6237)

  11. Hillary should stay in the White House. Her game is expensive. How much are the NEST cicilians costing?

    The federal government is playing rich games for employees and politicians. Hillary should really have enjoy the trip to ME. Bhutto was going to meet Specter(Kenndy assasination) and Kennedy’s son. She was shot in the head, not shot in the head, shot in the head, the bullet went out the back, out the fron, out the left temple, out the right temple, she hit her head on the door, she was holding the vehicle befor eshe was…………………

    Sno (f7be2a)

  12. Illinois has open primaries and I’m still not sure whether to ask for a Democratic ballot and vote for Richardson or a Republican and vote for Thompson.

    nk (c87736)

  13. Sno…another idiot who refuses to take their meds?

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  14. Darleen #9:

    Speaking on a taped interview broadcast today on ABC’s “This Week,” the New York senator also defended her role as first lady in the Bill Clinton White House as giving her the experience that her opponents for the presidential nomination can’t match. While she lacked a security clearance, she said she often received “classified information.”

    Ahem And just when is Hillary! going to be called on this?

    When the media is convinced she can’t or won’t win.

    DRJ (09f144)

  15. Hillary does have extensive experience with Asians, but it’s largely related to money and laundering as opposed to policy.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  16. Very few candidates have much foreign policy experience unless they come from a state such as New York or California, maybe Texas. But they usually dealt with narrow issues of trade and business not state department affairs. It is kind of fun to listen to all candidates jump through hoops on how experienced they are.

    I wouldn’t recommend getting too caught up on the classified information remark. It is unrealistic to expect that a first spouse wouldn’t be around classified discussions at various times.
    For the mere mortals carrying security clearances we have to go through special procedures if we will be under anesthesia just in case we blab classified info.

    voiceofreason (4fd5c9)

  17. voiceofreason

    Hillary!s quote was:

    “I was briefed on a range of issues, often provided classified information and often, when I traveled on behalf of our country, I traveled with representatives from the DOD (Department of Defense), the CIA, the State Department.”

    Which seems to indicate a degree or more above pillow talk.

    Either Hillary should have been vetted for security clearance, or she should not have been “provided” such material. That word indicates documents and I find it unconscionable that no reporter is following this up.

    Darleen (187edc)

  18. Darleen,

    Having worked with classified info for a very long time I have a fair idea of what she probably was given access to. Other first ladies received similar info to be sure – the only difference is that they didn’t run for president.
    Even after a former president dies the secret service continues to provide protection for the spouse. There are more than just physical security reasons involved.

    You may find it unconscionable. I don’t see it as that big of a deal. I also think that it is one of those things that is a lose-lose issue to spend a lot of time on. Stick to the policies and her positions. That is what will peel away support from her, not items like these.

    voiceofreason (1a18d6)

  19. One thing we learned from the Scooter Libby trail, is that when a President directs information to be released (“I want you to brief Hillary on what’s going on in country X”), that info is not classified any longer. So, the info Hillary received might have been classified, but once the President directed that she be given access to it, it ceased being so.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  20. It’s going to be fine, just take the pills. The nightmares will stop in a couple of generations. The clones are stupid because they use the alien ship to make them and that’s wrong.

    The federal government is wasting our money entertaining garbage. ‘Drewehave a proposal for you if youd care to serve. Itcan be dangerous and even deadly.’

    MIB was a good movie, but he’s a corpse in a few hours.

    Sno (f7be2a)

  21. she risked her life on White House missions in the 1990s, including a hair-raising flight into Bosnia that ended in a “corkscrew” landing and a sprint off the tarmac to dodge snipers. “I don’t remember anyone offering me tea,” she quipped.

    The Bosnia story has the Clinton Pinocchio factor all over it and had been rapidly debunked by the right side of the blogosphere over the course of the day. Captain’s Quarters has some good stuff.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  22. Here’s the Captain’s Quarters discussion per daleyrocks’ comment.

    DRJ (09f144)

  23. DRJ – Thanks, I was rushing before. There is a lot of good stuff out there. Sweetness & Light added a little more context from her book about the visit.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  24. I know what you mean, nk. I’m torn on whether to vote for Richardson out of principle or Obama out of politics (because I really, really don’t want to have to vote for Clinton in the general election).

    Leviticus (d6cfa5)

  25. If Hillary is the Democratic nominee she may pick Richardson as her running mate. They’ve worked together before, he’s loyal, from the West, and a governor so he brings several pluses to the ticket. Richardson wouldn’t please the base but it won’t displease them, since he’s basically anti-war, and she won’t care what the base thinks once she has the nomination. The goal then will be to appeal to moderates and he does that on most issues.

    In fact, in my conspiracy moments, I sometimes wonder if Richardson and Clinton colluded on their positions to cover all the ideological bases for the general election.

    DRJ (09f144)

  26. Bill Clinton’s remark that he was Governor as the precursor experience that he brought to the Presidency as answer to Obama’s trivialization of his own experience using Bill Clinton’s words in 1992 was more significant than some might characterize.

    It seems rather obvious that Obama relies upon his “global upbringing” to form the “experience” that he suggests to the public is “adequate” as a form that is suitable or appropriate in running for President. But it’s likely that not so many Americans agree with him.

    While Obama’s “exotic upbringing” may bring certain qualities to the Presidency, that experience may not be a foundation upon which may be relied to make up for national experience, or executive experience. It is instead a global perspective that has some broader value to a President but not sufficient to make up for what is lacking. Merely because a President is the most powerful person of presumably the most powerful nation, global exposure can only accomplish so much; without a solid base of American nationalism, it can be a weakness, particularly in being elected in the first place. What Americans view as an asset can also be viewed as a weakness of significance. Simply because one prefers that it be viewed one way doesn’t mean it will be viewed that way by the 3 million judges who make up the voting public.

    The obligation of the American public is to choose what is best for them, not for the candidate, and not for the world.

    Stepping into the shoes of the American public is, therefore, a criteria of utmost significance. And the ability to call a spade a spade is the ability to be honest with oneself rather than to rely upon dishonesty and deception to disguise either experience or vision.

    Pat (be27e4)

  27. Obama’s Experience is not sufficient to be President

    Would you let a first grade teacher teach a class in a graduate school?
    The answer is absolutely not.

    Our political system is complex and full of pitfalls. You must have experience in order to maneuver in Washington politics.

    In order to accomplish any policy changes, implement campaign promises – one must know the political ropes it takes to pass any legislation.

    The big issue with Obama’s policy changes; the central question is, “Who is the real Barack Obama?” I see the recent focus on “flip-flops” as misplaced, both because the term isn’t very helpful and because voters aren’t surprised by politicians who change their positions. More importantly, it doesn’t highlight the more damaging question: “When will Obama change his position again?” That question forces voters to consider the possibility that Obama is an unknown, is dishonest, or lacks the experience to know where he stands on issues. Like a used-car salesmen who tells you a price in the parking lot, only to change it when you sit down at his desk, Obama is similarly trying to find the right sales pitch to get you to commit to him, even if he’s a lemon. Obama’s critics need to put the possibility of more Obama policy changes front and center, driving voters to choose the more reliable and consistent McCain over the trendy, untested Obama.

    Many notes that “the Republican National Committee, in a statement cataloguing some half-dozen recent Obama ‘flip-flops,’ threw up its hands without offering answers,” that challenge should quickly be overcome by a campaign that catalogues Obama’s frequent and conflicting policy positions and does so while raising questions such as: “When will Obama change his position again? On Election Day? In the Oval Office? Or perhaps during unconditional meetings with our enemies? Can Obama, who touts change, be trusted to not change his positions again?” Perhaps most critically, Obama’s critics need to make clear that a political campaign is not the place where America wants its leaders developing their expertise and their positions, and the presidency is not the place for on-the-job training. McCain is experienced, tested, and consistent; Obama is inexperienced, untested and inconsistent. No amount of hope can change those facts.

    Second, the campaign must drive home the details of Obama’s inexperience. This should be tied to the policy changes highlighted above. Many states that Obama has 4 years of experience in the U.S. Senate. That’s common rounding, but it’s inaccurate, and Obama’s critics should stop doing it, because it distracts from his dearth of experience (and the significance of his policy changes during his short tenure). On Election Day Obama will have just 3 years and 10 months of experience as a U.S. Senator. It was after just 1 year and 10 months working as a senator that he started eyeing the presidency (as alluded to on Meet the Press). Then, just 2 years and 12 days into his job as a senator, he formed his presidential exploratory committee.
    Obviously, I’m splitting hairs by breaking his experience down into days and months — which is precisely the point. If Obama needs the benefit of a few months or days of rounding to seem ready to be commander-in-Chief, he’s got a serious experience problem. Moreover, if he can’t stay consistent during those short 3 years and 10 months, he has a serious experience problem coupled with a serious judgment problem. I did a little informal poll amongst friends, and most of them did not know that Obama had just 2 years of experience as a senator before deciding to run for president. They probably didn’t know that because it has not been consistently repeated. Saying Obama is inexperienced when he’s up against someone like McCain, with decades of experience, is one thing, but Obama’s inexperience is more than just comparative, it’s inexperience — period. No matter which way you frame it, 2 years and 12 days or 3 years and 10 months, both are facts which should be repeated until every voter knows them by heart.
    So, given this lack of experience, one would expect some serious accomplishments from Obama during his 3 year and 10 month tenure, accomplishments that would merit nominating him to be president. However, no such record of accomplishments exists. He racked up the Senate’s most liberal voting-record rating and a one-page résumé lacking in leadership experience, not exactly presidency-worthy accomplishments. Of course, in fairness, that’s not what Obama is running on. He’s running on his ability to inspire us, to bring about “change.” Given his vaunted ability to inspire, one would think he would have a legislative record to speak of. But he doesn’t. In his time in the Senate, his ability to inspire his colleagues ensured that just two bills he sponsored were signed into law. One can hope for change, but based on Obama’s record, it doesn’t seem that much is forthcoming.
    Now, granted, Obama also has state legislative experience. But how many of us can even name our state senator, let alone confidently say that he or she should be the next President? Local government is great (in fact, I prefer it), but it’s not a proxy for the ability to lead a nation. The 13th legislative district of Illinois, where Obama was a state senator until the end of 2004, has a population of 112,599 (per State Senator Raoul’s office). That’s on par with a city like Peoria, Illinois. Now I’m sure that Mayor Ardis of Peoria is a great public servant, but I’m not about to nominate him for President without some significant leadership experience on national issues — even if Peoria is a community, a region and hometown as unique as its name. Similarly, Obama’s work as a state senator and his 3 years and 10 months as a U.S. senator are not sufficient substitutes for true national experience.
    Which highlights the final point. In view of his non-existent record, Obama’s words must merit greater scrutiny because they are the only remaining measure voters have for what Obama believes. Those words have been woefully inconsistent over the totality of Obama’s short career, and are full of generalities like “hope” and “change.” In fact, the only consistent theme in his campaign is one policy change after another. All politicians modify their positions (including McCain), but usually those changes take place over a few years and as circumstances dictate. Obama’s changes on dozens of issues came about in just three and a half years and not for policy reasons, but for political gain.
    Obama’s game of musical chairs is filled with the hope that he’ll be sitting in the right place when the Election Day music stops. His critics need to make clear that sitting in the President’s chair is not a game. Consistency and credibility both matter when dealing with enemies and allies. Obama’s 3 years and 10 months of inexperience — filled with generalities, uncertainty, and frequent policy changes — should be a unified theme of his critics. If Obama can’t maintain consistent policies over just a few short years, how can he possibly command the respect of our troops, win the support of our allies, and deter our enemies?

    Jay Draiman (28db1b)

  28. What is becoming more clear in this election of 2008 – more than anything – is that “everybody has a plan.”

    That is not to suggest that either McCain’s entourage, nor Obama’s entourage, has the right plan or that either of their plans can or could work.

    The important thing to remember is that as the Presidential Octopus machine goes, it the entourage -or the Octopus – that Americans are stuck with after the election.

    The same situation might be said of the Bush/Paulson plan – it isn’t the spokesmen, but the Octopus of which Americans must beware.

    Pat (905808)

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