Thursday, September 13, 2007

Hillary's experience-by-proximity

Steven Stark writes in the Phoenix:
    There’s a strange debate dominating the Democratic campaign so far. Hillary Clinton’s calling card seems to be the experience that she possesses and that Barack Obama lacks. “ ‘Change’ is just a word if you don’t have the strength and experience to make it happen,” she told an audience this past week, before promptly making the line the centerpiece of a new ad in New Hampshire and Iowa. “Hillary is the best-prepared to be president of any non-incumbent I have ever had a chance to vote for,” the clearly biased Bill Clinton has said repeatedly on the trail this summer.

    The contrast with the “inexperienced” Obama is meant to be obvious. But is it true? Mrs. Clinton has only been in the Senate for one term, not much more than Obama has. And Obama served in the state legislature before that, which Hillary never did. The only experience she has that Obama lacks is that she married a guy who was elected president and, as a result, got to live and work in the White House.

    And that’s the difficulty.

    The idea that spouses gain qualifications through their partners’ jobs is a radically new idea in this country. And no one seems to be debating it — at least not publicly. It’s not really about Hillary per se. We don’t name CEO spouses the next head of the company when their partner steps down, any more than we let the wives or husbands of doctors perform brain surgery because they happen to be married to someone who does...
I'm glad someone with some political knowhow wrote this, because, frankly, it's the question that's been sitting in my brain for months now. How does the experience of being married to a president trump the experience a personal slog from the ground up brings?
    So far, the press certainly has bought it....The larger question, of course, is whether the voters will buy it, too...
I've been married for a long time, but does that qualify me to do my husband's job? I don't think so.

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