Balkinization  

Monday, October 08, 2007

Double Standards at the Washington Post

Mark Graber

The opinion section of Sunday's Washington Post featured a piece by Geoffrey Wheatcroft, "Who Made Hillary Queen?" The gist of the essay was that Hillary Clinton lacked the political experience of such women as Golda Meir and Margaret Thatcher, the first women to hold the highest executive office in Israel and Great Britain, respectively. Noting that Clinton has only served a term plus in the Senate and not been a congressional leader at that, Wheatcroft asks, "How could a country that prides itself on its spirit of equality and opportunity possibly be led by someone whose ascent owes more to her marriage than to her merits?"

Clinton's resume does pale in comparison to Golda Meir or Margaret Thatcher. What the piece fails to note is that her resume is as good or better than that of Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George Bush the Younger before they took office, and as good or better than any present aspirant for the White House with an actual chance other than John McCain. Clinton is the only Democratic contender who stands a chance who has actually been reelected to the Senate (and has headed an executive department task force). No one who looks at Rudy Guiliani's or Mitt Romney's resumes is likely to confuse them with John Quincy Adams (and let's not get started on what Fred Thomson has been doing for the last decade). None of this is mentioned in the piece. Has Hillary's marriage helped her political prospects? Of course. So did every male candidate who married into a family with money or who appeared on TV or who was simply photogenic.

Bernard Lewis once noted that an anti-Semite is a person who criticizes Israel while refusing to acknowledge other countries have similar flaws. The same may be said for Mr. Wheatcroft and the Washington Post. A fair claim can be made that the best qualified persons in the United States do not run for the presidency and cannot be elected. European observers in the nineteenth century commonly made such assertions. The same may be true today, as witnessed by the relative lack of experience of the leading candidates in both political parties. McCain aside, however, this is a criticism of every major presidential aspirant this year (and, alas, Chris Dodd is not a major presidential aspirant). That Mr. Wheatcroft and the Washington Post imply that Hillary Clinton is somehow an exception to the practice of presidential candidates with long resumes is professionally irresponsible. At least she chose to marry Bill, which is more than one can say about how the present occupant of the White House gained his familial connections!

Comments:

I disagree. Most of the people you cite (Reagan, Romney etc.) were former governors. Being president is commonly thought to require executive experience, and, in that respect, Hillary Clinton's experience is awfully light.

Actually, most of the candidates in this election (except McCain and Romney) have pretty thin resumes.
 

Wheatcroft appears to be another one of these condescending Brit expats who makes a living hurrumphing those naive and inexperienced colonials.

Mrs. Clinton is a long time political operative who had two terms observing how a White House works. While one could debate whether Hillary's experience has been one of success, failure or just being there, inexperience is hardly her problem.

However, it is undeniable that Mrs. Clinton would never have been elected Senator Clinton in NY, nevertheless potentially President Clinton, if she was running as Ms. Rodham. There can be no doubt that she is running on her husband's name.

Speaking of running on name recognition, between the Bushes and Clintons, Gen Xers could be forgiven for thinking that we are being ruled by two royal families with a custody sharing arrangement to live in the White House. If Hillary gets in this time, I suppose Jeb Bush (the "smart brother") will be next.

Isn't anyone tired of this arrangement?
 

Let's see -

Ronald Reagan - Elected governor twice

Bill Clinton - Elected governor six times

George W. Bush - Elected governor twice

Last senator elected president without previously serving as vice-president or a governor - John F. Kennedy - 47 years ago

Next-to-the-last senator elected president without previously serving as vice-president or a governor - Warren G. Harding - 87 years ago (Harding was a Lieutenant Governor, however)

Whether you like them or not, Reagan, Bill Clinton and Bush had extensive hands-on experience as chief executive of a state government prior to their presidential campaigns.

Hanging around the White House and eating and sleeping (on occasion) with the president has never been recognized as any sort of qualification, without more, to be president.

The simple fact is that if Hillary's last name was anything other than Clinton, she would not have been elected to the senate, let alone be a serious candidate for the presidential nomination.
 

You should definitely send in a letter to the editor about this. There was a similar BS article in the NY Times about her "cackle": http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/30/us/politics/30clinton.html
And, of course, the Washington Post loves to cover her cleavage:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/19/AR2007071902668.html
 

First, as some of the others noted, the other candidates are more experienced. Hillary's experience consists of an absolutely unproductive 1 1/3 terms as US Senator-- just about the only thing she accomplished was voting to send brave Americans to their deaths in Iraq. She not only has no executive experience but also no experience in the House, and no experience at the state or local level. That's totally inadequate if experience is going to have any meaning.

Second, being first lady isn't relevant experience. The first lady is not a co-chief executive. Rather, she runs the White House social calendar, decorates, handles invitations to events, etc. That simply doesn't count as anything at all.

Third, it is actually a really bad thing if the way a woman gets elected in this country is by marrying a President, and playing the wronged woman while he fools around but standing by her man. That's the pre-feminist model of female success.

We have plenty of accomplished female politicians in this country. One of them is Speaker of the House. Several are Senators or Governors. They paid their dues and learned how to perform governmental functions in a variety of positions over many years. Rewarding a woman for marrying the right guy (and being a doormat while he played the field) is a setback for feminism, not a triumph.
 

Hanging around the White House and eating and sleeping (on occasion) with the president has never been recognized as any sort of qualification, without more, to be president.

Whoa! I thought First Ladies at least did all of the ironing and cleaned the kitchen or something. I had no idea they flung themselves into a couch on Monday morning and played with their XBox 360 until Friday night. Such marital flotsam has no place even thinking about politics, and quite frankly, probably would be too busy trying to play Free Bird on expert level Guitar Hero to notice any political stuff anyways.

For once, I find myself in almost complete agreement with Mr. DePalma. Give credit where credit is due; it's not like Hillary's experience in law and politics began in 2000 or, for that matter, 1992.
 

It was Bill who married up!
 

I really don't think watching your husband be President, even for two terms, qualifies much as "experience"; By that standard we should tap the White house cleaning staff, they've got decades of executive branch experience.

Really, it's crazy to claim that she's got as good a resume as Reagan, her hubby, or either Bush.
 

Ho-hum. So when Washington DC politicians seek the presidency, it is argued that they don't have executive experience. And when state governors seek the presidency, it is argued that they don't have Washington DC experience.

As for Hillary Clinton getting where she is because of family connections, that is also true of a lot of other politicians, including the current president.

To be a good president, you just need integrity and having your head screwed on right. It is a sad commentary on politics that the quote "I'd rather be right than be president" became famous.
 

We had one President whose sole experience consisted of a single term in the House and 4 terms in the IL Legislature. He turned out ok.
 

Well, aside from that little matter of a civil war that stacked up bodies like cordwood, sure.
 

What might the US of A have looked like today if that legislator from Illinois had not become President in 1861? The Civil War and its many deaths cannot be undone. But what if ...? Would the Union have remained intact? Would slavery have just dwindled away naturally with greater equality for all?
 

I confess that I'm somewhere between Mark and his critics on this one. Ronald Reagan was indeed a two-term governor of a "strong-governor" state, not to mention his having been the president of a reasonably significant labor union. He was at least as experienced as, say, Woodrow Wilson or FDR, unless one gives substantial extra credit for Wilson's presidency of Princeton or FDR's tenure as Secretary of the Navy.

Bill Clinton is a harder call, though I think that six terms as governor, plus his national leadership of various relevant organizations, was impressive. And even his enemies concede Clinton's intelligence and, more to the point, amazing curiosity about anything and everything.

Bush the younger is another matter. Texas is a notoriously "weak governor" state, and no serious person could believe that six years of "governing" Texas could compare with Reagan's experience in more truly governing California. More to the point, it does seem clear that Reagan, whatever his limits to people like myself, did indeed have some genuine intellectual curiosity. The ultimate problem with W. is not his lack of experience, but his remarkable blend of ignorance and arrogance.

Now, for Hillary. Raw intelligence and curiosity, A. Actual hands-on experience running anything, C- (at best). Demonstrated judgment with regard to certain issues (medical care in 1993, Iraq in 2002, the bankruptcy bill in 2005, whether Ahmadinijad should be allowed to lay a wreath in NYC last month), D.

And let me return to my general hobbyhorse: We have a constitutional system that, by separating out the presidency from everything else, seems to assure, at least in the modern world, that candidates will, like all of the candidates, without exception, be deficient in demonstrated experience. I'm not yet willing to declare myself in favor of a parliamentary system, but I do think that such a system is likely to produce more experienced prime ministers. They also probably produce less "visionary" leaders, whether the example be FDR, LBJ, Ronald Reagan, or, for that matter, George W. Bush.

sandy
 

For better or worse, Clinton seems to have been a de facto senior advisor to the President for eight years after being a de facto senior advisor to the Governor of Arkansas for twelve years. On top of that, we've got (what will have been) eight years in the Senate. I'm no Clinton fan, but that doesn't look like a light resume to me. Especially when you consider that the major Republican candidates these days seem to be a one-term governor and a two-term mayor.
 

Well, aside from that little matter of a civil war that stacked up bodies like cordwood, sure.

I don't think many people blame Lincoln for the war. I think they idolize him for bringing us through it and inspiring us to follow the better angels of our nature.

Clinton seems to have been a de facto senior advisor to the President for eight years after being a de facto senior advisor to the Governor of Arkansas for twelve years.

I don't think "senior advisor" constitutes much in the way of qualification to be President. Karl Rove qualifies by that standard. He didn't have marry the President to get the job, either, though he does seem to have performed .... well, never mind.
 

Re Lincoln and the War: I'm not sure what "blame" means in this context. If one is looking for causal agents of the War, then surely Lincoln is crucial. He rejected Pres. Buchanan's belief that the national gov't was without power to prevent presumptively illegal secession and, more to the point, refused to compromise on the formal issue, extension of slavery into the territories, that triggered war. Perhaps he was right to do so, but it is tendentious to say that he was less a "cause" of the slaughter of the War than was Jefferson Davis. Most of us strongly prefer one over the other, but the standard is not a causal one. Perhaps it is like "self-defense," where the we attribute to the victim his/her own death because we don't approve of the conduct leading up to it, even if "retreat" was a possibility for the person engaging in what we label "self-defense" instead of "manslaughter."
 

First, much of the debate is over whether being a governor provides better on the job training for the presidency than being a senator. Executive experience v. greater familarity with national issues. I think the demand for governors reflects our constant and silly desires for alleged outsiders, but reasonable people might disagree. Still, you would want a government from a representative state with a strong governor (counts Romney out, but Reagan in). Second, whether Clinton has been a fairly effective Senator seems beside the point for my discussion, since hardly anyone claims that Obama or Edwards has been particularly effective. Put differently, at present being a media star matters more for the presidency than experience. Witness all parties. Some experienced people get annointed by the media (McCain), but good stories and haircuts are more important. So the notion that Hillary Clinton has less experience than woman leaders in other countries is silly, given that experience of that sort does not seem to be a particularly important qualification for this job.
 

Professor Graber wrote: ...experience of that sort does not seem to be a particularly important qualification for this job.

Agreed, but it makes for exactly the kind of good story and faux "analysis" which sells so well in a celebrity centric milieu such as you rightly describe us having.

Mark Field: ... well, never mind.

rotflmao, and thanks for a picture I really didn't need in my brain.

Where does New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson fit on this "weak governor/strong governor" line?
 

The only note I would sound here is that I disagree with those who disparage Hillary as "merely" riding on Bill Clinton's coat tails.

It's obvious by now that both of them are skilled politicians, for whatever that's worth, and simply because Hillary founded her career, in part, on a political alliance is no knock on her qualifications for President.

Both she and Bill fit could arguably fit the classic American rags to riches story.

Critics like to say, if, if, if her name weren't Clinton, but it is and no one would argue she didn't make the decision to take the name Clinton were her eyes wide open.

Hitching your star to the Bill Clinton wagon back in college looks like the smartest thing she may have ever done, but, one must admit she has earned her place as much as anyone, who claims a place at the public trough.
 

It's obvious by now that both of them are skilled politicians, for whatever that's worth, and simply because Hillary founded her career, in part, on a political alliance is no knock on her qualifications for President.

I don't think a marriage is a political alliance. Indeed, it almost insults the Clintons to present it that way.

She was First Lady. Do you think Laura Bush is prepared for the Presidency? Barbara Bush? Nancy Reagan? Roslyn Carter? Was Pat Nixon? Lady Bird Johnson? Jackie Onassis? Mamie Eisenhower?

Look, I don't doubt that first ladies sometimes talk to their husbands about policies, deal with cabinent members, etc. But it isn't the same as having any sort of a responsible government position where your actions are subject to public scrutiny and you are responsible for the results of the programs you vote for, establish, or effectuate. And First Ladies spend a lot of time-- probably most of it-- doing things that have nothing to do with being an effective President, such as decoration, seating charts and invitation lists, etc.

If Hillary wanted to qualify herself to be President, the opportunity was certainly available for her. She just needed to run for public office or get into public service in the 1970's or 1980's or even 1990's and pay her dues, working in different positions of government and gaining actual work experience.

Electing her on the basis of her husband's qualifications is anti-feminist and sends the worst message to young women-- that attaining power is about who you sleep with (and who you put up with your husband sleeping with), not what you achieve.
 

If Hillary wanted to qualify herself to be President, the opportunity was certainly available for her. She just needed to run for public office or get into public service in the 1970's or 1980's or even 1990's and pay her dues, working in different positions of government and gaining actual work experience.

Again--and to be clear, I'm not a Clinton supporter--I think you do injustice to Hillary when you suggest she should have been in public service and "pay her dues." Prior to marrying Bill, she was steeped in the intersection of law and politics. After marrying Bill, guess what? More law and politics.

For the last 40 years, she's been directly exposed to the workings of politics and law, playing an active role in shaping the political landscape. (I agree with Sandy above that her record may not be the best in certain respects). This idea that her life in politics started when she became First Lady is frankly preposterous. She surrendered a very promising political career of her own in order to support her husband--a move that may not fit in with your "feminist" ideal, but one that is common enough in our society to resonate with young women.

The notion that one can put one's dreams on hold and return to them successfully is inspirational, and I don't see anything anti-feminist about the notion of sacrifice having delayed rewards.

On the other hand, the stereotype of the passive wife used to discredit her participation in politics strikes me as extremely anti-feminist, especially when it's used to denigrate a woman who dares to capitalize upon her specialized knowledge.
 

Dilan said...

I don't think a marriage is a political alliance. Indeed, it almost insults the Clintons to present it that way.

Men and women often get married and stay married for a myriad of reasons apart from love.

I am hardly in a position to judge why the Clintons decided to marry in the first place, but their marriage post Lewinski does appear to be one of mutual political convenience.
 

Of course I would agree that Lincoln was a "but for" cause of the war. I meant the term "blame" in the sense of "engage in wrongful conduct which proximately causes the event".

William Freehling argues that what drove secession in the South was the fear of an antislavery party holding the federal patronage. That would have meant antislavery appointments in the South and a full political dialogue regarding slavery. In short, what the South could never permit was democracy. In this analysis, Lincoln did nothing to cause the war except be elected.
 

Again--and to be clear, I'm not a Clinton supporter--I think you do injustice to Hillary when you suggest she should have been in public service and "pay her dues." Prior to marrying Bill, she was steeped in the intersection of law and politics.

Really? I think she worked on politics in Washington for a short period of time. After going to Arkansas, she was a practicing corporate lawyer-- no politics at all.

Then, she became First Lady of Arkansas. At any time between then and 2000, she could have run for office and paid her dues and didn't.

And no, First Ladies do not do serious governance. For heaven's sake, Hillary wrote a book on White House decorations-- because that's what First Ladies actually do, not policymaking. Sure, they are flies on the wall, and their husbands sometimes ask them for advice, but that hardly qualifies as being accountable to the public and gaining actual governing experience.

For the last 40 years, she's been directly exposed to the workings of politics and law, playing an active role in shaping the political landscape.

What are you talking about? Before 1992, nobody outside of Arkansas had even heard of her. The last 7 years, she has done absolutely nothing-- other than voting for murderous wars in Iraq and Iran, in the US Senate. Before that and after 1992, she was doing the White House decorations and social calendar.

She surrendered a very promising political career of her own in order to support her husband--a move that may not fit in with your "feminist" ideal, but one that is common enough in our society to resonate with young women.

She can surrender anything she wants-- BUT IT DOESN'T MAKE HER QUALIFIED TO BE PRESIDENT! To be qualified to be President, you have to NOT surrender to your husband and go out and get the relevant work experience.

On the other hand, the stereotype of the passive wife used to discredit her participation in politics strikes me as extremely anti-feminist, especially when it's used to denigrate a woman who dares to capitalize upon her specialized knowledge.

What specialized knowledge? You think she knows more about policymaking than women who have actually made policy and have done so for their entire careers, like Barbara Boxer, and Nancy Pelosi, and Jennifer Granholm?

Let me ask you this. Do you believe Laura Bush is qualified to be President, or would be if she completed a Senate term? She gained the same specialized knowledge Hillary did. She was First Lady, after all.
 

"Bart" DePalma:

I am hardly in a position to judge why the Clintons decided to marry in the first place, ...

But you'll put in your two cents where you don't know a fig anyway:

... but their marriage post Lewinski does appear to be one of mutual political convenience.

WTF cares how it "appear[s]" to you? Did anyone ask? You should have heeded your own instincts from earlier.

Cheers,
 

""In this analysis, Lincoln did nothing to cause the war except be elected."

Not that he competes in expertise on the subject with the commenters here, but FWIW James McPherson agrees:

"No compromise could undo the event that triggered disunion: Lincoln's election by a solid North".

So, if Lincoln is responsible for the Civil War, we're assigning responsibility for our involvement in wars to those in office at the time of ulimate rather than proximate causes. Hence, arguably Wilson is responsible for our entry into WWII, FDR for our entry into the Korean "whatever", Ike for our entry into the Vietnam War, GHWB for the current Iraq war, and Ike again (not Carter!) for the pending war with Iran.

- Charles
 

"and Jennifer Granholm?"

As a Michigan native, and one who's deciding between raiding my 401-k plan in an attempt to wait out her remaining time in office, or fleeing the worst economy in the country before I slip the rest of the way into bankruptcy at the hands of her massive tax hike, I tend to think that lobotomized monkeys know more about making good policy than Granholm. But that's just the rising poverty level in this state speaking.

""No compromise could undo the event that triggered disunion: Lincoln's election by a solid North"."

Well, no, but compromise could have averted war. I never suggested he was responsible for secession, after all.
 

"but compromise could have averted war"

Again FWIW, not according to McPherson, unless within the bounds of "compromise" you include surrender on all points. I would say this position is supported by the fact that the attack on Ft. Sumter occurred less than six weeks after Lincoln's inauguration. The South apparently was itching for war.

Interesting that you would seize on that arguable nit when in my comment was an egregious logical error. Think Buchanon instead of Lincoln. Although it's easily corrected (substitute "who played a role in the"), the change may reveal some historical ignorance on my part. Eg, I don't know what role if any Wilson played in the Versailles Treaty and know nothing about the background leading to the Korean "whatever". If someone does know whether my attributions of "responsibility" (in accordance with the questionable formulation) for them are right or wrong, I'd appreciate that input.

In any event, I think the overarching point stands. Holding Lincoln responsible for the Civil War seems a logical stretch.

- Charles
 

Really? I think she worked on politics in Washington for a short period of time. After going to Arkansas, she was a practicing corporate lawyer-- no politics at all.

Then, she became First Lady of Arkansas. At any time between then and 2000, she could have run for office and paid her dues and didn't.


Dilan, I respect your viewpoint and I understand where you're coming from, but I think you're seriously eliding the facts in order to support what you're saying.

What politics did she work on in Washington? Who did she work with? Who appointed her to chair the LSC? Who did she fight with to keep the LSC funded? If she was a nobody before 1992, why did the National Law Journal name her one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America in 1988?

Hell, why do people say the name "Hillarycare" when they're talking derisively about health care? And why were they saying it in the 1990s while she was spending all her time writing decorating books and arranging seating for oh-so-lavish White House balls?

You can argue that her experience wasn't "executive" enough--that her political and business experience was often in positions of policy research, negotiation, and advice, rather than decision-making--but please don't perpetuate the helpless woman motif by pointing to Laura Bush as her model.

From www.firstladies.org:
Hillary Clinton was the only First Lady to keep an office in the West Wing among those of the president's senior staff. While her familiarity with the intricate political issues and decisions faced by the President, she openly discussed his work with him, yet stated that ultimately she was but one of several individuals he consulted before making a decision. They were known to disagree. Regarding his 1993 passage of welfare reform, the First Lady had reservations about federally supported childcare and Medicaid. When issues that she was working on were under discussion at the morning senior staff meetings, the First Lady often attended. Aides kept her informed of all pending legislation and oftentimes sought her reaction to issues as a way of gauging the President's potential response. Weighing in on his Cabinet appointments and knowing many of the individuals he named, she had working relationships with many of them.

etc. etc.

You ask:
You think she knows more about policymaking than women who have actually made policy and have done so for their entire careers, like Barbara Boxer, and Nancy Pelosi, and Jennifer Granholm?

Given the above characterization, I would even go so far as to say she has a /superior/ knowledge of the political workings in Washington from the executive branch's point of view than the three women you list, yes. Has Pelosi spent eight years sitting in senior staff meetings? While we're at it: is Bush a fantastic "policymaker"? Was Clinton? Is policymaking what the job is really about?
 

pms:

Is policymaking what the job is really about?

I would hope so...along with quaint things like leadership.
 

If she was a nobody before 1992, why did the National Law Journal name her one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America in 1988?

Because there weren't too many other corporate lawyers who were married to the state Governor who introduced one of the two parties' presidential candidates at the convention.

You can argue that her experience wasn't "executive" enough--that her political and business experience was often in positions of policy research, negotiation, and advice, rather than decision-making--but please don't perpetuate the helpless woman motif by pointing to Laura Bush as her model.

OK, I'll point to Nancy Reagan then. Every credible memoir of the Reagan administration says she had a tremendous impact on policy, sat in on meetings, reviewed legislation, decided personnel matters such as cabinet selection, etc.

So is she qualified to be President?

Look, the truth is that the first lady is always portrayed as the power behind the throne. Ever heard of Abigail Adams? Mrs. Woodrow Wilson? Eleanor Roosevelt? Jackie Onassis?

This isn't new. But it is BS. The truth is while all First Ladies absorb a certain amount of information and engage in a certain amount of behind the scenes decisionmaking, this stuff also gets severely overblown. Hillary couldn't have been doing everything that she now says she did, precisely because she was managing the social calendar and choosing the decorations, etc., just like every previous first lady. It's all a bunch of bunk meant for public consumption.

Nothing stopped Hillary from gaining actual work experience. She didn't do it, and now she isn't qualified for the Presidency. Too bad.
 

"I'm the leaderer. What I do is -- uhhh -- lead....."

Cheers,
 

dilan:

Hillary couldn't have been doing everything that she now says she did, precisely because she was managing the social calendar and choosing the decorations, etc., just like every previous first lady. It's all a bunch of bunk meant for public consumption.

Sources and references, please. JOOC, do you think that it's possible other people were handling such tasks, in whole or in part? And do you believe in "multi-tasking"?

Cheers,
 

Does anyone know if Darth Cheney allows the current Deciderer to do anything more than manage the social calendar and choose decorations?
 

Ever heard of Abigail Adams? Mrs. Woodrow Wilson? Eleanor Roosevelt? Jackie Onassis?

Hmmm, yes, from somewhere...wait a minute, I bet those are first ladies, right?

All I'm trying to point out is that you're being hampered by the category "First Lady." You have presumptions about what being a first lady entails (not to mention a certain willing ignorance of the social factors involved in running for office while an elected official's wife), and they're preventing you from taking a very politically active and acute person seriously.

Furthermore, the ultimate qualification for the job--besides certain age and citizenship requirements--is the ability to garner enough public support to win a national election. Maybe I'm just being cynical, but it seems to me that these days anything else--leadership, image, policymaking, deciderating, whathaveyou--will be more the function of the administration as a whole (understood to include not only the cabinet and federal agencies, etc, but also the personal assistants, speechwriteers, image consultants, and the political party that staffs/directs those positions) than the specific directions or qualifications of the President.
 

[PMS_Chicago]: Maybe I'm just being cynical, but it seems to me that these days anything else--leadership, image, policymaking, deciderating, whathaveyou--will be more the function of the administration as a whole (understood to include not only the cabinet and federal agencies, etc, but also the personal assistants, speechwriteers, image consultants, and the political party that staffs/directs those positions...

... and party hacks, dirty tricksters, cronies, political donor/appointees, sinecures, nepotistic opportunists, pre-/ex-lobbyists, etc.)....

No. You're not cynical. I am.

Disclaimer: I don't include Prof. Lederman in any of the latter categories. Can I still post here?

Cheers,
 

Sources and references, please. JOOC, do you think that it's possible other people were handling such tasks, in whole or in part? And do you believe in "multi-tasking"?

Arne, she wrote a BOOK about decorations in the White House. And yes, she had a staff working on those things. But that's the point. Her staff was working on THOSE things, NOT policymaking.

Again, I don't doubt that she had a certain influence, just like EVERY first lady. But overall, the position of First Lady is not relevant job experience for the Presidency, and she shouldn't step ahead of women who actually prepared for the job by doing real policymaking.
 

Dilan:

Again, I don't doubt that she had a certain influence, just like EVERY first lady. But overall, the position of First Lady is not relevant job experience for the Presidency, and she shouldn't step ahead of women who actually prepared for the job by doing real policymaking.

I tend to agree with you. But I think you sell her short.
 

not to mention a certain willing ignorance of the social factors involved in running for office while an elected official's wife

Like Bill Paxon and Susan Molinari? Bob and Elizabeth Dole? Nancy Kassebaum and Howard Baker?

Plenty of politicians' spouses work. And if she really COULDN'T work (which is not true), then fine. But SHE DOESN'T GET A FREE PASS TO BE PRESIDENT. There are plenty of stay-at-home mom, helpmate housewife, "partners" to their husbands in this world. There is nothing wrong with them. But they aren't qualified to be President!

What you seem to want is for Hillary to get a free pass because she was married to Bill. But this job is too important to be giving out free passes.

Furthermore, the ultimate qualification for the job--besides certain age and citizenship requirements--is the ability to garner enough public support to win a national election. Maybe I'm just being cynical, but it seems to me that these days anything else--leadership, image, policymaking, deciderating, whathaveyou--will be more the function of the administration as a whole (understood to include not only the cabinet and federal agencies, etc, but also the personal assistants, speechwriteers, image consultants, and the political party that staffs/directs those positions) than the specific directions or qualifications of the President.

After Bush, I don't want to take my chances on that.
 

Experience may be overrated (e.g., Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld). Judgment, temperament, and leadership are more important.

Paul
 

What you seem to want is for Hillary to get a free pass because she was married to Bill.

No, I don't want that at all. Not only do I think that's insufficient to qualify someone, I have my druthers about candidates and she isn't one of them.

What I wanted to do is counter the idea expressed upthread that Hillary entered politics in 2000 after "hanging around the White House and eating and sleeping (on occasion) with the President" and that that particular experience is the sum of her involvement with politics.

Furthermore, I wanted to counter the idea that you put forward that being First Lady "isn't relevant experience." I agree that it may not be sufficient experience in and of itself, but to call it irrelevant, particularly when you're involved in senior staff meetings and crafting national health care policy, is incorrect.

Lastly, your unease seems to be based on lack of experience in a certain structural role or levels of participation. What would a perfect President's credentials be for you? You mention different levels of government upthread. Does that mean a qualified candidate must have served in local office, county office, state senate, US congressperson, governor, then finally President? Is there a set path one must take?

Myself, I would look for certain features in a candidate:

1. Ability to win a campaign
2. Experience working with groups of advisors/directors to make decisions
3. Experience in weathering scandals.
4. Ability to listen to other people (part of #2, surely)
5. Comports oneself well in public and private (aka "it won't embarrass me to admit they're our elected President")
 

Lastly, your unease seems to be based on lack of experience in a certain structural role or levels of participation. What would a perfect President's credentials be for you? You mention different levels of government upthread. Does that mean a qualified candidate must have served in local office, county office, state senate, US congressperson, governor, then finally President? Is there a set path one must take?

I think dues-paying in roles where one is responsible and accountable to the public is very important. So while there's no set path, that's the difference between, say, holding a cabinet position (important experience) and being an informal advisor to a politician (not important experience).

I also want to see, ideally, a variety of different types of experience, again in jobs where you are responsible to the public and can be removed for poor performance. For instance, I like the fact that Obama served in a state legislature. I love all the different jobs that Richardson has held.

Part of the reason I don't buy the First Lady position as relevant experience is because nobody can remove the First Lady if she does a bad job. Holding unaccountable power-- even if she did indeed hold some-- is not really good preparation for holding accountable power.
 

I think dues-paying in roles where one is responsible and accountable to the public is very important.

I agree wholeheartedly. I'd even add the willingness to be held accountable to the list of ideal qualities, and you make an important point.
 

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