When Hillary Clinton declared her support for the Iraq war authorization on the Senate floor in 2002, she cited her experience in foreign policy as a determining factor on her vote. That experience hadn't quite swelled to thirty-five years yet, but according to Clinton, it was substantial:
[P]erhaps my decision is influenced by my eight years of experience on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue in the White House watching my husband deal with serious challenges to our nation.
Of course, since the Clintons have spent the last eight years stonewalling efforts to find out just what Hillary Clinton's experience consisted in, the primary source for verifying her claims has been…Hillary Clinton.
Well, despite the Clinton campaign's best efforts, records of her comings and goings as first lady are now in the public domain. And — pretend to be shocked — reality doesn't match up to the Hillary Clinton approved biography of Hillary Clinton. Highlights:
Clinton has said she helped negotiate the April 1998 Good Friday agreement between warring factions in Northern Ireland. But while Catholic and Protestant figures hashed out last-minute details of a power-sharing agreement in Belfast, Clinton was at the National Press Club in Washington at a party honouring Bella Abzug, a congresswoman from New York City who had died recently. While President Clinton phoned major participants in the peace talks, she met with Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel and joined a farewell party for Democratic operative Karen Finney. On the day the agreement was actually signed, she met with Philippine first lady Amelita Ramos.
When Nato launched air strikes against Serbia in an attempt to punish Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic for the country's onslaught against ethnic Albanian separatists in Kosovo, Clinton toured ancient Egyptian ruins, including King Tut's tomb and the temple of Hatshepsut. She dined at the Temple of Luxor, and stayed overnight at the Sofitel Winter Palace Hotel there.
On August 20, 1998, Bill Clinton ordered US missile strikes on suspected terrorist sites in Sudan and Afghanistan. The president and Hillary Clinton were on holiday on Martha's Vineyard, a posh island vacation spot off the coast of Massachusetts. After announcing the attack, Clinton cut short his break and returned to Washington to confer with his national security team; Hillary Clinton remained on the Vineyard until August 30, her records show.
There are other key foreign policy dates when the record is not so clear: on the day the presidents of three Balkan states signed a peace agreement in Dayton, Ohio, in November 1995, ending years of ethnic violence in the former Yugoslavia, Clinton's file lists no public schedule for that day, but indicates she was in Washington.
So there really is no remaining rationale for Clinton's candidacy. The pinnacle of her involvement in policy-making as first lady was a catastrophic failure on health care reform, a failure that she has breathtakingly claimed should count in her favor, presumably on grounds that would justify giving George W. Bush another go at foreign policy. She has further claimed that the Hindenburg-like outcome of her health care initiative spurred her to create the State Children's Health Insurance Program — a magnificent achievement (if you're into government sponsored healthcare, anyway) undermined only by the fact that Orrin Hatch and Ted Kennedy created SCHIP while the Clinton administration opposed it.
Her vaunted foreign policy experience apparently consists in exotic vacations and, to be fair, occasionally delivering desperately-needed commodities to US troops in Bosnia, such as Sheryl Crow and Sinbad.
And then in 1999, she became a New Yorker ex nihilo, used her husband's political machine to brush aside actual self-made women like Nita Lowey and claim a Senate seat against minimal opposition. From that perch, she quickly set to work as an utterly unexceptional pothole senator, taking a break from constituent services to vote for the odd war resolution without reading it.
Now, it's true that Hillary Clinton literally has more experience than Barack Obama: She's older than he is. But she's also younger than John McCain. And has accomplished less than either of them (not that McCain's accomplishments are particularly heartening). Will the fact that her candidacy is ultimately grounded on nothing at all finally put a stop to it? Never mind, there are Jeremiah Wright sermons on Youtube.