Saturday, December 15, 2007

Bill Clinton: It's the experience, stupid

By Creature

Bill Clinton appeared on Charlie Rose last night [video pending] and, like any good surrogate would, he hammered Obama on the "experience" front (the final message Hillary would like Iowans to hear over and over again).

I actually think the experience hit on Obama is a legitimate one (though I do question how much actual experience Hillary brings to the table). Seeing as how I lean Obama (and to a lesser degree Edwards), I buy Obama's answer to the experience question: that you can have all the experience in the world, but sometimes judgment, good judgment--judgment not based on the political winds of the time, trumps experience. Hillary's experience, and her politically motivated judgment, got us into Iraq. Obama was at least prescient enough to be against the whole boondoggle from the word go. Bill answered that contrast last night, but I take issue with his analogy. From E&P:

[Clinton] also hit back at the charge that experienced politicians had helped get us into the Iraq war, saying that this was "like saying that because 100 percent of the malpractice cases are committed by doctors, the next time I need surgery I'll get a chef or a plumber to do it."

No, Bill, all malpractice cases may be committed by doctors, but some doctors have never committed malpractice. There are plenty of politicians who did not commit Iraq malpractice and I would turn to one of them, long before I turn to Hillary, whose experience did nothing to shape her judgment, except insofar as to read the political tea leaves which told her, wrongly, that she needed to be on the hawk side with respect to Iraq.

Now, I don't want this post to devolve into an anti-Hillary, anti-Bill screed--the right is already having a field day with this interview, but Bill raises one more point worthy of mention. Again, from E&P:

"I guess I'm old fashioned," [Clinton] said, in wanting a president who had actually done things for people. He said some people could "risk" taking someone who had served just a year in the Senate if they chose.

When Rose said that all this seemed to add up to Clinton hinting that people would be "rolling the dice" if they picked Obama, the former president replied: "It's less predictable, isn't it?"

Yes, an Obama presidency would be "less predictable," but that's exactly what I'm looking for. We can "predict" that Hillary's presidency would be more hawkish, more poll-driven, more cautious, less audacious, more polarizing, and, well, more of the same.

This week is the last for any real political maneuvering before the voting finally begins, and this Charlie Rose interview is going to play out in a big way. Marc Ambinder has more, including the inside word that the Clinton people themselves thought Bill was going a bit too far.

Update: Obama answers back.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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