Her non-vote on Tuesday regarding the FISA bill (both Obama and McCain voted, McCain believing that the telecoms deserve retroactive immunity, Obama believing differently) — because, you know, it’s not like the primaries that day were being held anywhere near DC or anything — I actually like Hillary. I like her a lot more than most Obama supporters I know. I have no doubts that she’d do a great job as president, but I’ll get to that in a minute. I think, however, that her time as First Lady might actually be screwing her over.
Recently I’ve been asking people how you qualify the experience that Hillary got from being married to the president of the United States. On one hand, she had no real power, although she also had no one to answer to. I would imagine that any deals she made would have to have been using Bill’s abilities as currency, as Hillary didn’t have any of her own political power to offer up, at least not any above the board. For that matter, the most high profile project she worked on ultimately failed, which is either an indication that she really doesn’t know how to get the job done or she’s unable to.
On the other hand, she probably knows the day to day operations of the White House better than almost anyone else alive and certainly better than any of the remaining candidates. She was Bill Clinton’s highest adviser, even if she really didn’t have the political experience to be given such a role.
The problem, as Obama has pointed out, is that Hillary will claim the successes of her husband, yet back away from the failures. As her role has never been defined, she can do so with little evidence to the contrary.
That might actually come back to haunt her, though. Evidently, she was against NAFTA, but kept quiet while it was pushed through. Now she’s in a position where she has to stand by one of the failures of Bill’s term.
Regardless of her experiences with regards to policy while she was First Lady, in the end it’s the enemies she made that are going to bring her down. While I applaud the fact that she basically broke down the door to the boys’ club using the only avenue offered to a woman at the time, there’s no doubt that many people resent her for that. For every person who disliked her because she was a strong woman, there’s another person who thought she was overstepping her bounds. After all, no one elected Hillary, they elected Bill. She ultimately had as much right to power in the Clinton White House as Chelsea.
It’s flatly unfair. There was absolutely no way Hillary could have made a run at the White House up until now, so she had to learn the ropes through Bill, not because she particularly wanted to, but because it was the only option. Were she running on a history uncluttered by her husband — like Geraldine Ferraro was able to do — then the negative bias that so many have against her honestly wouldn’t be there.
There is an awful joke to be made, though, that, as First Lady, she failed in her one clearly defined responsibility…I kid! I kid!
As for a Hillary presidency, I have no doubts that she would pull us up out of the muck we’ve found ourselves in. I have no doubts that she would smart and efficient and steadfast in fixing the damage that Bush has done. But I think Hillary would simply get us back to even, whereas Obama would takes us beyond that.
More on that tomorrow.