Friday, March 07, 2008


James Fallows of has reported (obviously, disapprovingly) "on March 5, 2008 in a live CNN interview just now, Sen. Clinton repeated, twice, the 'Sen. McCain has a lifetime of experience, I have a lifetime of experience, Sen. Obama has one speech in 2002' line."

Similarly, on March 1, 2008 Fernando Suarez of had reported“I think you'll be able to imagine many things Senator McCain will be able to say,” she said. “He’s never been the president, but he will put forth his lifetime of experience. I will put forth my lifetime of experience. Senator Obama will put forth a speech he made in 2002.”

I believe a)though the Obama camp's charge that the Clinton campaign viciously inserted race into the campaign, though legitimate, was distorted and largely inaccurate; and b) the criticism that Hillary Clinton on CBS' 60 Minutes did not sufficiently rebut the false rumor that Senator Obama is a Muslim was dead wrong.

But the recent statements in which Senator Clinton argues that she and Senator McCain are experienced (apparently on foreign policy) while Senator Obama is not experienced are of a different kind. John McCain might use either or both statement against Barack Obama in a general election- and Senator Obama is qualified to be President (though arguably- less so than Hillary Clinton). But the comparison also was unnecessary.

Unfortunately, in usual American political discourse, "experienced" is synonymous with "experienced in foreign affairs." No one will question John McCain's "experience" (though he already has acknowledged not knowing much about economics). Mrs. Clinton, therefore, could have said something like this: "John McCain will claim a lifetime of experience. I will challenge him with my lifetime of experience. But how will Barack Obama be able to respond?" (This would not leave a good soundbite for the Repub campaign, given that not only has Obama's experience not specifically be denigrated, but John McCain would not be anxious to quote someone stating that he will claim a lifetime of experience.)

The New York senator still would have gotten her point across- assuming, of course, that she merely wanted to claim superiority to her Democratic competitor, and not bolster the Republican challenger.

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