Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Did Hillary Clinton run Bill's administration ?

"I am happy to compare my experience to hers when it comes to the economy," US Senator and Presidential aspirant Barack Obama said according to this report. "My understanding was she wasn't Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration. I don't know exactly what experience she's claiming."

Obama was responding to the Hillary Clinton campaign’s repeated line that Obama does not measure up to Hillary Clinton in experience. He is right. Clinton can by rights claim no more experience in running government than her predecessor as first lady, Barbara Bush, and her successor, Laura Bush.

By my understanding of US politics, the wife of the President is required to play the role of a very traditional wife – redecorate the White House, host parties, finalize the guest list and the sitting arrangements, and generally look pretty and presentable.

If Hillary wants to suggest that she got experience running the government while she was First Lady, that appears to confirm what a lot of people say about her – that she was poking her nose in affairs of state while husband Bill chased other affairs.

Unless Hillary Clinton wants to suggest that she enjoyed power and profile beyond normally recommended for a President’s spouse, the only superior experience Hillary Clinton can talk about is knowing better stuff like the layout of the White House, which curtains go well with which carpets, and yes how to keep a check on an irrepressibly errant husband.

Perhaps Clinton is not referring to her years at the White House, but as a Senator from New York. One of Clinton’s best known decisions as Senator was to have signed an authorization of war against Iraq, and again signing the dotted line on Iran. If that is experience, Obama is head and shoulders above Hillary Clinton.

Among the Democratic front-runners Obama is campaigning on an anti-Washington anti-Establishment platform, while Clinton is campaigning as the “insider”, the person from within the Establishment, who got her experience as part of the Establishment.

Neither however shows great leadership, neither “ has a dream”, neither inspires confidence. One for being too naïve to want to overthrow the establishment at one go, the other because she is establishment, not by experience, but by affectation, by her belief that she is pre-destined to occupy the White House.

Unfortunately, at a time when Democrats seem to be best poised to win the White House, the party seems to only throw up a modern-day Don Quixote and a Lady Macbeth.

No comments: