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 still can be appalled. And the gentle lady, the junior senator from the Empire State continues to appall.
Consider the following Associated Press story from earlier this 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 on-the-job training for -- our next president. That could be the costliest job training in history,' 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, Clinton has hinted that Obama, less than three years into his first term, lacks the preparation to deal with U.S. foreign policy challenges. In Monday's 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 understands 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 Hillary Care -- it was his fault.
Is the national media actually going to accept without even a murmur of skepticism Hillary Clinton's claim to possess all the experience gained by her husband as president? If 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 Giuliani (a candidate I am more favorably disposed toward) when he claims experience in foreign policy. While I like his general attitude on foreign policy, 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 Hillary claims she has the best ideas about our national 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 actually was 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 management. When I worked in the Reagan White House, I wrote hundreds of memos on my areas of responsibility. There was a paper trail. If Hillary actually was 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 documents stolen from the National Archives by Sandy Berger, Hillary's national security advisor (I suppose, following Hillary's claim, Bill's appointees also should be considered hers) are believed to be documents written by others with presidential comments in the margin. Let's have Hillary release all the national economic management documents written by her economic advisors with her comments in 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 Hillary was deeply involved in from 1993-2000? Other than keeping an eye on Bill, let's find out at what else she actually has experience.