Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Hillary Clinton’s Qualifications to Serve as Vice President

are 'just words'?

I hope everyone got this memo today:
When your entire campaign is based upon a claim of experience, it is important that you have evidence to support that claim. Hillary Clinton's argument that she has passed "the Commander- in-Chief test" is simply not supported by her record.

There is no doubt that Hillary Clinton played an important domestic policy role when she was First Lady. It is well known, for example, that she led the failed effort to pass universal health insurance. There is no reason to believe, however, that she was a key player in foreign policy at any time during the Clinton Administration. She did not sit in on National Security Council meetings. She did not have a security clearance. She did not attend meetings in the Situation Room. She did not manage any part of the national security bureaucracy, nor did she have her own national security staff. She did not do any heavy-lifting with foreign governments, whether they were friendly or not. She never managed a foreign policy crisis, and there is no evidence to suggest that she participated in the decision-making that occurred in connection with any such crisis. As far as the record shows, Senator Clinton never answered the phone either to make a decision on any pressing national security issue - not at 3 AM or at any other time of day.

When asked to describe her experience, Senator Clinton has cited a handful of international incidents where she says she played a central role. But any fair-minded and objective judge of these claims - i.e., by someone not affiliated with the Clinton campaign - would conclude that Senator Clinton's claims of foreign policy experience are exaggerated.

  • Northern Ireland: Senator Clinton has said, "I helped to bring peace to Northern Ireland." It is a gross overstatement of the facts for her to claim even partial credit for bringing peace to Northern Ireland. She did travel to Northern Ireland, it is true. First Ladies often travel to places that are a focus of U.S. foreign policy. But at no time did she play any role in the critical negotiations that ultimately produced the peace. As the Associated Press recently reported, "[S]he was not directly involved in negotiating the Good Friday peace accord." With regard to her main claim that she helped bring women together, she did participate in a meeting with women, but, according to those who know best, she did not play a pivotal role. The person in charge of the negotiations, former Senator George Mitchell, said that "[The First Lady] was one of many people who participated in encouraging women to get involved, not the only one."

    News of Senator Clinton's claims has raised eyebrows across the ocean. Her reference to an important meeting at the Belfast town hall was debunked. Her only appearance at the Belfast City Hall was to see Christmas lights turned on. She also attended a 50-minute meeting which, according to the Belfast Daily Telegraph's report at the time, "[was] a little bit stilted, a little prepared at times." Brian Feeney, an Irish author and former politician, sums it up: "The road to peace was carefully documented, and she wasn't on it."

  • Bosnia: Senator Clinton has pointed to a March 1996 trip to Bosnia as proof that her foreign travel involved a life-risking mission into a war zone. She has described dodging sniper fire. While she did travel to Bosnia in March 1996, the visit was not a high-stakes mission to a war zone. On March 26, 1996, the New York Times reported that "Hillary Rodham Clinton charmed American troops at a U.S.O. show here, but it didn't hurt that the singer Sheryl Crow and the comedian Sinbad were also on the stage."

  • Kosovo: Senator Clinton has said, "I negotiated open borders to let fleeing refugees into safety from Kosovo." It is true that, as First Lady, she traveled to Macedonia and visited a Kosovar refugee camp. It is also true that she met with government officials while she was there. First Ladies frequently meet with government officials. Her claim to have "negotiated open borders to let fleeing refugees into safety from Kosovo," however, is not true. Her trip to Macedonia took place on May 14, 1999. The borders were opened the day before, on May 13, 1999.

    The negotiations that led to the opening of the borders were accomplished by the people who ordinarily conduct negotiations with foreign governments - U.S. diplomats. President Clinton's top envoy to the Balkans, former Ambassador Robert Gelbard, said, "I cannot recall any involvement by Senator Clinton in this issue." Ivo Daalder worked on the Clinton Administration's National Security Council and wrote a definitive history of the Kosovo conflict. He recalls that "she had absolutely no role in the dirty work of negotiations."

  • Rwanda: Last year, former President Clinton asserted that his wife pressed him to intervene with U.S. troops to stop the Rwandan genocide. When asked about this assertion, Hillary Clinton said it was true. There is no evidence, however, to suggest that this ever happened. Even those individuals who were advocating a much more robust U.S. effort to stop the genocide did not argue for the use of U.S. troops. No one recalls hearing that Hillary Clinton had any interest in this course of action. Based on a fair and thorough review of National Security Council deliberations during those tragic months, there is no evidence to suggest that U.S. military intervention was ever discussed. Prudence Bushnell, the Assistant Secretary of State with responsibility for Africa, has recalled that there was no consideration of U.S. military intervention.

    At no time prior to her campaign for the presidency did Senator Clinton ever make the claim that she supported intervening militarily to stop the Rwandan genocide. It is noteworthy that she failed to mention this anecdote - urging President Clinton to intervene militarily in Rwanda - in her memoirs. President Clinton makes no mention of such a conversation with his wife in his memoirs. And Madeline Albright, who was Ambassador to the United Nations at the time, makes no mention of any such event in her memoirs.

    Hillary Clinton did visit Rwanda in March 1998 and, during that visit, her husband apologized for America's failure to do more to prevent the genocide.

  • China: Senator Clinton also points to a speech that she delivered in Beijing in 1995 as proof of her ability to answer a 3 AM crisis phone call. It is strange that Senator Clinton would base her own foreign policy experience on a speech that she gave over a decade ago, since she so frequently belittles Barack Obama's speeches opposing the Iraq War six years ago. Let there be no doubt: she gave a good speech in Beijing, and she stood up for women's rights. But Senator Obama's opposition to the War in Iraq in 2002 is relevant to the question of whether he, as Commander-in-Chief, will make wise judgments about the use of military force. Senator Clinton's speech in Beijing is not.

  • Iraq: Senator Obama's speech opposing the war in Iraq shows independence and courage as well as good judgment. In the speech that Senator Clinton says does not qualify him to be Commander in Chief, Obama criticized what he called "a rash war . . . a war based not on reason, but on passion, not on principle, but on politics." In that speech, he said prophetically: "[E]ven a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences." He predicted that a U.S. invasion of Iraq would "fan the flames of the Middle East," and "strengthen the recruitment arm of al Qaeda." He urged the United States first to "finish the fight with Bin Laden and al Qaeda."

    If the U.S. government had followed Barack Obama's advice in 2002, we would have avoided one of the greatest foreign policy catastrophes in our nation's history. Some of the most "experienced" men in national security affairs - Vice President Cheney and Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and others - led this nation into that catastrophe. That lesson should teach us something about the value of judgment over experience. Longevity in Washington, D.C. does not guarantee either wisdom of judgment.

  • Conclusion: The Clinton campaign's argument is nothing more than mere assertion, dramatized in a scary television commercial with a telephone ringing in the middle of the night. There is no support for or substance in the claim that Senator Clinton has passed "the Commander-in-Chief test." That claim - as the TV ad - consists of nothing more than making the assertion, repeating it frequently to the voters and hoping that they will believe it.

    On the most critical foreign policy judgment of our generation - the War in Iraq - Senator Clinton voted in support of a resolution entitled "The Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of U.S. Military Force Against Iraq." As she cast that vote, she said: "This is probably the hardest decision I have ever had to make -- any vote that may lead to war should be hard -- but I cast it with conviction." In this campaign, Senator Clinton has argued - remarkably - that she wasn't actually voting for war, she was voting for diplomacy. That claim is no more credible than her other claims of foreign policy experience. The real tragedy is that we are still living with the terrible consequences of her misjudgment. The Bush Administration continues to cite that resolution as its authorization - like a blank check - to fight on with no end in sight.

Barack Obama has a very simple case. On the most important commander in chief test of our generation, he got it right, and Senator Clinton got it wrong. In truth, Senator Obama has much more foreign policy experience than either Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan had when they were elected. Senator Obama has worked to confront 21st century challenges like proliferation and genocide on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He possesses the personal attributes of a great leader - an even temperament, an open-minded approach to even the most challenging problems, a willingness to listen to all views, clarity of vision, the ability to inspire, conviction and courage.

And Barack Obama does not use false charges and exaggerated claims to play politics with national security.

Based upon the evidence presented in this memo, I conclude that Hillary Clinton should immediately knock off on her campaign for President. Then she could take a couple of crash courses at C.C.N.Y. in international relations and American foreign policy and see if she can't train-up and get up to speed by the third week in this coming August. She could then contend for the position of Vice-President on a slam-dunk winning Democratic ticket. But if she persists in her campaign to run on John McCain's shirt tails ... well, I guess we'll never get a chance to re-start the 21st century.

11 Moderated Comments:

Blogger Samuel Brainsample said...

I did, and it was fantastic.

3/11/2008 07:33:00 PM  
Blogger Blogging4Food said...

Me, too! Passed it on.

3/11/2008 08:10:00 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

Once again, Vigilante, your posting performs an invaluable public service. Thank you for sharing this Memo with all of us. It saddens and sickens me to see the distortions, exaggerations, and outright lies Hillary is concocting and proclaiming as truth.

I cannot believe the enormity of Hillary Clinton's grandiose sense of entitlement. She is revealing her true character, and it sure ain't purty.

It is clear that she has decided that she can't win the nomination on her own merits, so she has determined to destroy Obama, decimate the Democratic Party, and hand the 2008 election (and the Congress and the Supreme Court) to the swarmy Republicans who, themselves, are doing their best to annihilate our Constitution and our country.

"Why would she do this dastardly deed?", you ask. So that she may run again in 2012.

Hillary's behavior is insolent, selfish, and utterly reckless. She "shats" upon her party and her country.

Shame on you, Hillary Clinton. Shame! Shame!! Shame.

3/11/2008 11:16:00 PM  
Blogger Not Your Mama said...

Ditto everything Emily said. And no, she should not get a shot at even the vice-president spot, she would add nothing of value to the ticket.

We've already had years of a leader with no character, willing to say or do anything to get their own way, we do not need another one.

3/12/2008 07:33:00 AM  
Blogger Anonymiss said...

*Golf claps*

This is so well-written and informative.

3/12/2008 09:21:00 AM  
Blogger Big Yellow Forehead said...

It's much easier to say what you did than prove what you've done. Hillary knows that she can't prove anything, which is why she has not authorized the release of various documents. Her "experience" platform is based solely on the fact that she was married to the president.

3/12/2008 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger Stella said...

Bravo, BYF. Perfect comment. And Emily, "she shat upon her party."

I see now why Gravel didn't get anywhere: he was too experienced and honest for this (or presumably any) election.

Yeah, I know. Tilting at windmills again.

3/12/2008 11:56:00 AM  
Blogger Beach Bum said...

How any Democrat did not cringe, or better yet puke, when she knifed Obama in the back by saying that she and McCain had a lifetime of experience while he had a 2002 speech they are not supporting her for real reasons. Given how the Clinton's crave the power and spotlight I'm positive that Obama has chuckled to someone that Hillary would never have a job running the copier in his administration much less be a heartbeat away from the Oval office.

3/12/2008 05:39:00 PM  
Blogger Utah Savage said...

Wow, this is the motherload of intelligent and engaged folks I ever had the pleasure to share a page with. So glad I got to meet you, read all of you and yes, "She shats upon her party is the best quote I think I've heard so far. Thank you for this invaluable information. I wish I knew how to bookmark you or link this site so that in some way i could just wake up and read it every day, at noon.

Bravo! Vigilante

3/12/2008 08:21:00 PM  
Blogger The Commentator said...

Should anyone be surprised?

Just because you were the sous chef doesn't mean you're the head chef.

3/17/2008 03:16:00 PM  
Blogger Yellow Dog said...

Lynching Hillary? Where's the outrage, people?

3/18/2008 09:34:00 AM  

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