Saturday, March 15, 2008

US Elections: Clinton's test

Throughout the primary campaign, Hillary Clinton's major strategy in attempting to prevail over Barack Obama has revolved around creating the perception that she has the experience to lead the country, whilst Obama hasn't.

In the beginning, the Clinton mantra was: "Ready on Day One". More recently, her line of attack has focused on foreign policy and national security concerns, culminating in what must be one of the strangest statements of the campaign so far:

"I think that I have a lifetime of experience that I will bring to the White House. I know Senator McCain has a lifetime of experience to the White House. And Senator Obama has a speech he gave in 2002."

Leaving aside the obvious fact that the satement is rather illogical (doesn't everyone alive have, per definition, a lifetime of experience?) and politically very imprudent (any such "lifetime" argument is bound to favour McCain), it is also contradictory with Clinton's flirtatious suggestions that Obama could be her VP running mate. After all, far and away the most important qualification a vice president needs is to be ready and able to take over office at a moment's notice. So how can Obama not have a "lifetime of experience" and not be "Ready on Day One" and still make a good VP?

Rather like Clinton's foreign policy claims, the statement is undoubtedly "a wee bit silly".

Even more silly, however, are the ways in which the Clinton campaign has attempted to explain their reasoning. In order to do this, they have made up what they call "a commander in chief test".

Now obviously no such test exists (although setting it up might actually not be such a bad idea: please tell us, Contestant Number 1, who the next president of Russia will be?). But that doesn't prevent the likes of Howard Wolfson (Clinton's chief spokesman) from using their fabrication in order to explain their position:

Asked about the contradiction of touting Obama as a vice presidential candidate while condemning his ability to lead, Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson implied there was still time for Obama to prove himself before the Democratic Party convention in Denver in August.

"We do not believe Senator Obama has passed the commander in chief test," Wolfson said. "But there is a long way to go between now and Denver."

Ah, I see. So whether Obama can or cannnot become VP - or, indeed, president - is dependent upon how well he's going to do in a nonexistent test, the results of which are to be determined by the Clinton campaign?

Hmm. That goes beyond being a wee bit silly. It's disturbingly delusional.

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