The NYTimes today runs a curious story that seems intended to debunk Hillary Clinton's claim of experience based on her time as First Lady. The gist is:
In seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, Mrs. Clinton lays claim to two traits nearly every day: strength and experience. . . . She has cast herself, instead, as a first lady like no other: a full partner to her husband in his administration, and, she says, all the stronger and more experienced for her “eight years with a front-row seat on history.” Her rivals scoff at the idea that her background gives her any special qualifications for the presidency. Senator Barack Obama has especially questioned “what experiences she’s claiming” as first lady, noting that the job is not the same as being a cabinet member, much less president.
Obama's claim seems strange to me. As I understand it, Hillary's claim is that she was the principal, and importantly, final advisor to Bill Clinton on all his major decisions. The story seems to confirm the claim, and certainly Bill Clinton has as well:
. . . [S]he was more of a sounding board than a policy maker, who learned through osmosis rather than decision-making, and who grew gradually more comfortable with the use of military power. . . . [S]he acted as adviser, analyst, devil’s advocate, problem-solver and gut check for her husband, and that she has an intuitive sense of how brutal the job can be. What is clear, she and others say, is that Mr. Clinton often consulted her, and that Mrs. Clinton gained experience that Mr. Obama, John Edwards and every other candidate lack — indeed, that most incoming presidents did not have. “In the end, she was the last court of appeal for him when he was making a decision,” said Mickey Kantor, a close Clinton friend who served as trade representative and commerce secretary. “I would be surprised if there was any major decision he made that she didn’t weigh in on.”
This sounds right to me and it is what I understand Hillary's claim of experience as First Lady entails. It makes this type of comment perplexing to me:
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