A Different Kind of "Experience"

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: Mar 30, 2008 11:57 AM
John Heilemann concludes in New York Magazine that Hillary Clinton will quit only if it's in her own personal interest to do so -- a pretty solid assessment, in my view, and also a damning commentary on Clinton's own character.  Then again, who didn't know that when it comes to the Clintons, loyalty pretty much begins and ends at home?

What's more newsworthy in the piece is its revelation that Barack essentially blew his chance to secure John Edwards' endorsement, while Hillary Clinton was successful in appealing to Edwards and (every bit as importantly) his wife:

Speaking to Edwards on the day he exited the race, Obama came across as glib and aloof. His response to Edwards’s imprecations that he make poverty a central part of his agenda was shallow, perfunctory, pat. Clinton, by contrast, engaged Edwards in a lengthy policy discussion. Her affect was solicitous and respectful. When Clinton met Edwards face-to-face in North Carolina ten days later, her approach continued to impress; she even made headway with Elizabeth. Whereas in his Edwards sit-down, Obama dug himself in deeper, getting into a fight with Elizabeth about health care . . .

It's interesting to hear Barack described by others as "aloof" (I've characterized him the same way in radio appearances) -- his warm and approachable persona on stage and in large crowds doesn't translate into one-on-ones, in my experience (and apparently, in the Edwards', as well).

This points to questions that should bother Democrats about whether Barack is really capable of "closing the deal" with voters, and it points out something else.  It seems obvious that Hillary Clinton has no small amount of self-regard, but she has the experience to understand when she must, at least, seem humble.  Barack likewise lacks nothing in the ego department, but, in contrast to Clinton, doesn't seem to know when it's time to go hat-in-hand to people who could help him (not unlike HRC, circa 1993's health care debacle). 

Could it be that another kind of inexperience is manifesting itself on Barack's part -- in ways that are completely unrelated to policy, but which could have profound implications both for his success in gaining the presidency, and doing anything with it if he wins?