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When Travel Is Experience

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

I'm indebted to Hillary Clinton for the revelation that my global wanderings when my dad was president qualify me to run for the presidency myself.

Mrs. Clinton has been insisting that her global junkets as first lady, and her meetings with foreign leaders, qualify her to be president of these United States.

I never thought of it that way, but if she is correct then I am eminently qualified to follow my father's footsteps and take up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., not merely as a member of the president's family, but as president in my own right.

Hillary, who even the media now admit will say or do anything to win election, is using her past as first lady to attempt to sell the American people on her expertise in foreign policy, a claim largely based on her travels during her husband's administration and the fact that she met with world leaders while junketing abroad.

Well I'll match my global travels and meetings with world leaders against hers any time, and I'll come out on top.

As a member of the president's immediate family I traveled far and wide, accompanied by an entourage of Secret Service agents, as are all members of a president's family. And because I was the son of a sitting president, my presence in their country -- no matter what the reason for my visit -- was treated by their leaders as an official visit and I was accorded the treatment given to such official guests.

Moreover, I was present during times of crisis when momentous decisions were made affecting foreign policy. For example, I was in a suite in the Century Plaza Hotel when my father gave Attorney General Ed Meese the authority to order our military to shoot down Moammar Gadhafi's aircraft in the Gulf of Sidra.

Following Hillary's reasoning, that experience qualifies me as an expert of military matters relating to foreign affairs capable of knowing what to do in a moment of crisis.

Hillary has made much of her alleged exposure to danger during a visit to Bosnia, claiming falsely that she came under sniper fire and is thus qualified to act facing personal threats.

When my father ordered air strikes against two of Gadhafi's homes, which killed his adopted child who was in one of them, Gadhafi swore to get revenge by killing Ronald Reagan's adopted son -- me. My life was threatened by a world leader, not merely threatened by imaginary sniper fire.

On one occasion during my dad's administration, when I went to Taiwan on private business (I was in the yacht business in those days), the government went all-out to greet me even though I came as a private citizen. Before I could check out the yachts there, I had to perform the official duty of laying a wreath on the tomb of Chiang Kai-shek, not as a yacht broker but as an official visitor representing the president of the United States.

Does that experience qualify me as an expert on Far Eastern affairs?

On the same trip my family and I were greeted in the Philippines by Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, and invited to visit them in the presidential palace for cocktails and conversation. That was another meeting with a world leader.

Hillary's widely-touted experience is not at all unique. Any member of any presidential family has had similar experiences but not one of them ever even suggested that their travel and meetings with foreign leaders qualified them to be president of the United States.

Nancy Reagan, for example, had far more experience than Hillary, but she was content to be the loving wife of a president instead of crowing about the famous world leaders she met in her eight years as first lady and claiming it qualified her to be president. Unlike Hillary, Nancy tells the truth.

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