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Hillary: The experience question

If Hillary Clinton wants to prove that she

If Hillary Clinton wants to prove that she’s experienced, said Peter Baker in The Washington Post, she’ll have to do better than this. Responding to Freedom of Information Act requests, Clinton last week released 11,046 pages of her schedules and datebooks from her eight years as first lady. “Her campaign said the records bolster her case for the presidency by showing her extensive involvement in key issues.” But it’s hard to see how. There’s no mention of her attending National Security Council briefings, high-level meetings with world leaders, or playing any significant role in major crises. Her trips abroad generally consisted of such “classic first-lady fare” as visiting schools and clinics. Nor is there evidence to support some of her grander claims—such as that she “helped to bring peace to Northern Ireland,” or that she landed “under sniper fire’’ on a 1996 trip to Bosnia, said Will Bunch in the Philadelphia Daily News. For days, Clinton insisted she’d had to run for cover in Bosnia, but after CBS dug up footage of her walking calmly across the tarmac, being greeted by smiling dignitaries and an 8-year-old schoolgirl, Hillary conceded, “I misspoke.”

Team Clinton says the personal calendar doesn’t tell the whole story, said Don Van Natta Jr. in The New York Times. Even if she didn’t take part in high-level meetings, they say, Hillary was still her husband Bill’s closest advisor. It’s “precisely the kind of thing that is invaluable but doesn’t make it on a daily schedule,” a spokesman said. Oh, please, said Dick Morris in the New York Post. I can tell you, as a former advisor to President Clinton, that Hillary had no policymaking role after 1994. That’s when the GOP captured Congress—a debacle that Bill felt was due largely to his wife’s aggressively liberal agenda, especially her health-care fiasco. So he “exiled” her to endless goodwill tours and photo ops. When Hillary did regain influence, in 1998, it was mainly to fight his impeachment. In “the key years of the Clinton presidency,” her influence was negligible.

Precisely what role Hillary played in her husband’s administration really isn’t that important, said Bill Barol in Huffingtonpost.com. Her chronic fudging of the truth—as in her insistence that she was fired upon in Bosnia—is far more relevant. “What does it say about the character of the candidate that she felt a need to puff up her tough-guy credentials, and that she couldn’t back off the story even when it was pretty decisively discredited?” To me, the refusal to back down, even when caught in a “fib,” feels all too “Clintonian.”

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