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Bill Clinton trashes Obama's experience

Challenged by Bloomberg Television's Al Hunt that Senator Barack Obama is the same age Clinton was when he first ran for President, President Bill Clinton brought the hammer down. Kristin Jensen has the story for Bloomberg.com:

Former President Bill Clinton said he was far more experienced when he made his successful 1992 White House run than Senator Barack Obama is today.

``There is a difference,'' Clinton said in an interview with Bloomberg Television's ``Political Capital With Al Hunt'' that will air this weekend. ``I was the senior governor in America. I had been head of any number of national organizations that were related to the major issue of the day, which is how to restore America's economic strength.''

Clinton was 46 in 1992 when he beat Republican President George H.W. Bush to win the highest U.S. office, the same age that Obama is now. When Clinton, then the Arkansas governor, was first running, ``he was initially dismissed as an obscure if colorful outsider, handsome and articulate but, at age 46, too young and inexperienced for the job,'' his wife Hillary wrote in her autobiography, ``Living History.''

Read the whole story at the link above. President Clinton is entirely correct. When he ran in 1992, he was in his sixth two-year term as Governor of Arkansas. He had also served one term as the state's Attorney General. That's fourteen years of administrative experience.

Now, Arkansas is a small state, it is true. But governing it, or even running its Justice Department, provides essential experience in administering and managing a large operation. Serving in a legislature, even the United States Senate, in contrast, does not. Senators manage their staffs, but aren't even responsible for funding their salaries or the office's expenses. For some reason, though, all Senators are even more convinced they are qualified to be President than actors think they are qualified to direct.

There is no substitute for hands-on management experience. The United States government is the largest enterprise in the world. It has a budget of roughly $3 trillion and millions of employees. The President administers a operation with revenues larger than the top 20 corporations combined. It's not the sort of job conducive to on-the-job management training, but so many candidates believe they are entitled to start at the top.

I haven't often agreed with Bill Clinton over the years, but he's absolutely right this time.

Now, it would be entirely fair for Obama's supporters to counter that his three years in the US Senate and eight years in the Illinois State Senate compares to Hillary's seven years in the US Senate as her sole experience. Realists, however, would point out that through Bill Clinton's twelve years as Governor in Arkansas and eight years as President in Washington, Hillary was continually sticking her nose into everything. That should count for something, I suppose . . .


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Comments (23)

Anyone in this post arguing... (Below threshold)

Anyone in this post arguing that Bill Clinton has more experience, when he ran in 1992 is a loon. Let's face it; he was a governor of a backward state in the south running against a seating president George Herbert Walker Bush. Before his presidency, he happened to be a World War II veteran, who flew into combat. He was the Vice President of the United States in the administration of Ronald Reagan (1980 -1988). He has also served as the member of the United States House of Representatives for the 7th district of Texas (1967-1971), the United States Ambassador to the United Nations (1971-1973), Chairman of the Republican National Committee (1973-1974), Chief of the United States Liaison Office in the People's Republic of China (1974-1976), and Director of Central Intelligence (1976-1977).
My argument is that if Americans will elect Bill Clinton over Senior Bush then they will elect Obama over Hillary...end of story...

Stan ~ The question isn't i... (Below threshold)

Stan ~ The question isn't if Clinton had more experience than Bush did in 1992, but did Clinton in 1992 have more relevant experience than Obama in 2008.

Given that Obama's only true management experience was in college as editor of the Law Review, and Clinton had 12 years as a Governor and two as a state Attorney General under his belt, the answer is obvious.

by the same logic, bill is ... (Below threshold)

by the same logic, bill is unwitting saying that hillary is also actually not qualified for the presidency either, since he was qualified when he ran i 1992 than hillary is today.

The Clinton's have far more... (Below threshold)

The Clinton's have far more experience than Osama Obama (that we know of). Look at the trail of 50+ unexplained deaths that follow the Clintons, we don't know how many Obama beheaded during his radical Islamic training. Experience should tell you that you don't want a Clinton as a friend or enemy.

by the same logic, bill is ... (Below threshold)

by the same logic, bill is unwitting saying that hillary is also actually not qualified for the presidency either, since he was qualified when he ran i 1992 than hillary is today.

Bingo! We'll take care of her in the debates!!

Ironic that the Clinton's a... (Below threshold)

Ironic that the Clinton's argue for experience. It is our experience with the Clintons that accounts for the 50% negative ratings she gets. This is Obama's whole point. To bad he has to sound like a baby to make it.

You conservatives talk abou... (Below threshold)

You conservatives talk about relevant experience, yet you come up with people like The Governator.
"Now, Arkansas is a small state, it is true. But governing it, or even running its Justice Department, provides essential experience in administering and managing a large operation. Serving in a legislature, even the United States Senate, in contrast, does not." -- Jim Addison

Well, Jim, Abraham Lincoln lacked this "essential" experience you speak of. How well did his presidency turn out? Also found lacking was JFK. Let's just say that history will remember JFK a bit more fondly than this Dumbya you guys came up with.

Herman, what are you whinin... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

Herman, what are you whining about, exactly? This post is about Hillary and Obama. Which one are you supporting? Try to stay on topic.

More "red on red" violence.... (Below threshold)

More "red on red" violence. Like the Pinko Mom challenging Pelosi for her seat.

Yes, she was in both BC's a... (Below threshold)

Yes, she was in both BC's admins in AR abd the Whitehouse so by default she was present and privy to the inner circles.

Shouldn't it by extension, her experience in the Clinton administration, disqualify her from serving as President?

After all, one of their slogans was "Two for the price of one."

Dont stop thinking about Ob... (Below threshold)

Dont stop thinking about Obama!

Dont stop it'll soon be here!

Bush/Clinton are gone..yesterday's gone!

Fleet Words, mac!... (Below threshold)

Fleet Words, mac!

Excellent ep.Your ... (Below threshold)

Excellent ep.

Your point in the first comment, Stan, would not stand had Bush used all the power, legitimate and illegitimate, of the Presidency to stop Clinton, a power Hillary certainly will use against Obama, to the extent she and Bill can.

Well, Jim, Abraham Linco... (Below threshold)
John Irving:

Well, Jim, Abraham Lincoln lacked this "essential" experience you speak of. How well did his presidency turn out?

Well, we had a Civil War, over half a million dead, almost that in wounded, hostile relations with Europe, and it ended with his assassination. I imagine President Lincoln could have wished for things to go a bit smoother.

Herman ~ in Lincoln's day, ... (Below threshold)

Herman ~ in Lincoln's day, the federal government was a small and limited operation, not the sprawling leviathan of today. And, as John Irving points out above, it wasn't exactly the Golden Age. In fact, if Grant and Sherman hadn't turned in serious victories in the fall of 1864, particularly taking Atlanta, Lincoln would not have been re-elected.

It's a touch early to say how history will judge Bush - remember Truman's approval was in the 20s when he left office. But if you are arguing Kennedy was a successful President, you evidently prefer mythology to reality.

Comments 11 and 12: P... (Below threshold)

Comments 11 and 12: Phunny!

Lincoln was also a railroad... (Below threshold)

Lincoln was also a railroad lawyer, probably involved in admininstration. Railroads were big and expanding organizations at the time.

Rather than admit that he b... (Below threshold)

Rather than admit that he blew it by failing to think deeply enough, Jim continues on with his stupidity. No surprise there.

Jim, get this through your thick skull: 1) Lincoln is considered the greatest American president, PERIOD, and 2) Lincoln had no experience governing in the public sphere prior to becoming president. That is, he lacked the experience you deem "essential." Did he fail, Jim? Yes or no? Cat got your tongue, Jim???

And don't think your feeble attempt to squirm out of being nailed fools anyone. Let's just say that managing a civil war to victory is indeed a "large operation," one for which Lincoln had no experience for, but one that he was ultimately extremely successful in doing.

Lincoln was such a great president that his portrait was put on American currency. Which reminds me. Jim, next time you look at a 50-cent piece look to see whose picture is on it. It's a guy whose approval rating is in the 70+ range. A guy who lacked this "essential experience" that you wrote about. Like Jimmy Carter, Dumbya didn't though. And your Dumbya, Jim, will have his portrait on American currency when hell freezes over.

I agree with Bill, he had m... (Below threshold)
Neo Author Profile Page:

I agree with Bill, he had more experience in 1992 .. than Hiliary has now.

Herman, I'm still chuckling... (Below threshold)

Herman, I'm still chuckling over your view of JFK's historical significance. Unless you just meant "fondly" in the simplistic manner of JFK's charm rather than his clumsy handling of America's affairs at the time. The rest of your view of history will remain difficult to take seriously as a result.

What is most amusing to me is that you credit Lincoln, who actually abused his power in truth far more than even the mythology Democrats repeat so often about Bush, as the greatest President.

Obama's relative inexperien... (Below threshold)

Obama's relative inexperience proves itself in every Democratic debate. Obama is part of the new generation of African-American lawmakers who lack the experience growing up in the Civil Rights Movemnent like a John Lewis or a Thurgood Marshall, although he is certainly an expert at law.

Herman, fantasy informs you... (Below threshold)

Herman, fantasy informs your historical view. Read, and critically compare what you read with what you think. It's a nice trick.

Well that's what's really h... (Below threshold)
roger Author Profile Page:

Well that's what's really hurting Obama, is his lack of experience. He would be a much stronger candidate if he were a governor rather than a senator. Then he could simultaneously point to his experience, attack Washington and possibly attack lobbyists. It's looking very messy for the Democrats in November. Half of the people who voted for Hillary in PA would not vote for Obama in November. Maybe the mean it, maybe they don't.

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