December 18, 2007

Fournier Misses The Mark

Ron Fournier tries to paint Bill Clinton as hypocritical for criticizing Barack Obama's lack of experience. The AP analyst claims that Clinton faced many of the same criticisms when he ran for the presidency in 1992, but discounts the extensive executive experience that Clinton already had at the time of that first run for office:

Bill Clinton says Sen. Barack Obama is a callow, highly ambitious political prodigy who is asking voters to "roll the dice" and elect him president.

He should know — that's a fair description of Clinton when he sought the presidency in 1992.

The fact that the former president is stealing a page from the same Republican playbook used against him 15 years ago underscores the threat Obama poses to the candidacy of Clinton's wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

It also illustrates Clinton's penchant for rewriting history. ... Clinton was 42 in 1988, four years younger than Obama is now. Already one of the nation's longest serving governors, Clinton had a limited number of accomplishments between 1988 and 1992 that added to his depth of experience — other than winning a fifth term as Arkansas governor while promising not to seek the presidency before his term expired.

Yeah -- other than having five terms as Governor of Arkansas (and at least one as Attorney General), you can hardly tell the resumes apart.

I'm no fan of Bill Clinton, but this is rather unfair. People thought that Bill Clinton lacked foreign-policy experience, not executive experience. Obama lacks both. The "callow" argument against Obama, the one Clinton made, is essentially correct. He has been in politics an entire ten years, only three at the national level, and Obama has never had any executive responsibilities in public office at any level. He hasn't even been mayor.

Fournier uses the Charlie Rose appearance to talk more about Bill Clinton's past than Obama's present. He even provides a rather cheap shot by claiming that Clinton spoke about Obama condescendingly, as "a boss condescends to a scrappy new intern." Gee, that phrase certainly has no baggage when used in conjunction with Bill Clinton, does it? And what did Bill say that set off Fournier? He called Obama an "enormous talent" -- somewhat gracious for his wife's political opponent.

When Bill ran for office, he had far more qualifying experience than Obama, Edwards, and his wife put together. As Fournier notes, the problem with Clinton wasn't executive experience but a different kind of experience of which he had far too much -- and what got him into trouble in the White House. The bimbo eruptions threatened to derail him at any point, not just in 1988; he would have had a tough sell to run against George H. W. Bush at 42, coming off of eight years of a tremendously successful Reagan presidency, and the skirt-chasing would have knee-capped him altogether. If it hadn't been for Ross Perot, he would have lost in 1992 as well.

Fournier seems to go out of his way to criticize Bill. If he wants to beat up a Clinton, he should focus on Hillary and her campaign, where the criticisms would make more sense. This "analysis" should have stayed in the draft folder.


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