Kathleen Parker

For her part, Clinton didn't miss the opportunity to note that she knew Bhutto personally. Otherwise, the Clinton campaign and assorted friends have fired back that Clinton has done more than partake of tea, inevitably breathing new life in the teapot-tempest cliche. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright issued a statement on Clinton's behalf:

"Sen. Clinton has been in refugee camps, clinics, orphanages and villages all around the world, including places where tea is not the usual drink. In addition to these experiences she has met with world leaders and has known many of them for years."

When it comes to exposure to foreign leaders, clearly Clinton has more experience than Obama. But just as clearly, there's a continental divide between meeting heads of state as a president's wife and meeting with them as leader of the free world.

The truth is that neither Clinton nor Obama has much foreign policy experience, but does having such experience necessarily qualify someone? The answer may be found in Bill Richardson's intemperate remarks upon hearing of Bhutto's murder.

The former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations called for Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to step down immediately. Whereupon a spokesman for Sen. Joe Biden, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said that Musharraf's stepping down is "the last thing we need until we know what really happened and who's responsible."

Now there's a concept. Wait, watch, listen, learn, speak.

What happened in Pakistan may yet be unclear, but this much we do know: Every utterance from a president's lips matters.

Clinton was always wrong to claim her husband's experience as her own, while Obama sounds merely silly pretending that having family in another country qualifies him in foreign affairs. One presumes an electorate without memory; the other panders to an audience of none.

Neither inspires much confidence.

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
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