Hillary frequently, and often harshly, castigated White House staff when she felt they weren’t serving her husband well. She was often the first person to organize crises management teams to defend her husband and attack his enemies. And she often carried a sort of veto power over critical decisions about appointees and staffing.
One can argue about the wisdom of her advice – much of it was stubborn, overly antagonistic, and harmful – but it is hard to make the argument that this rises to the level of presidential experience. If it is then a host of former White House staffers and advisors are be qualified to be president.
Lastly, it is worth pointing out that this power was connected in perverse ways with her relationship with her husband. Because she was the designated political defender, and enabler, of the president, when he was most vulnerable she wielded the most power. When she was down he felt free to act, and when he screwed up she rose in stature.
It is worth pointing out that Americans were at the time, and continue to be, concerned about a dynamic of this nature, a concern held by many today. Accountability is critical in a democracy and having a key advisor and participant that is unaccountable, and who has “unique” leverage, is a recipe for disaster. This is the rationale behind anti-nepotism laws.
Read any of the copious books covering the Clinton administration and you will find that Hillary was a divisive and disruptive figure who played no small part in the stumbles of the administration.
All of this explains the difficulty she is having in proving that her White House experience counts. Her role was highly unconventional, mostly political and deeply entwined with the dysfunctions and foibles of the Clinton White House.
It should also send a clear warning about the advisability of having Bill Clinton back in the White House.
The bottom line is that Hillary was mostly an inside political operative whose chief accomplishment was the survival of her husband’s presidency and the launching her own political career.
This surely qualifies as unique experience, but it is anything but presidential.
Of course, neither is losing an argument about your foreign policy credentials with Sinbad.