Senator Clinton yesterday said that current conditions make it a bad idea to elect a President who will require "on the job training." By the lofty standard she has imposed, there are only four people in the country who are qualified to be President, and two of them are ineligible under the Constitution. That leaves two men, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush, both of whom will turn 85 years old should they see the year 2009. Each served only one term and thus could be elected to another term.
Did I miss something? Some people interpret the Senator's comments as asserting her exclusive qualification for the White House compared to her current competitors. I'm not sure I understand the logic. For eight years Hilary Clinton was the "First Lady" of the United States, an office unlisted in the Constitution, by virtue of her marriage to President Clinton. She had the President's ear, and as a personal favorite was given certain privileged responsibilities, including supervision of a project to create a national health insurance policy. All this she did at the whim of the President, having not herself been elected as the President's wife (who knows what woman might win such a vote!) nor confirmed in any of her special responsibilities by Congress. Hers was a privileged position to which she had no right whatsoever, the "First Lady" having no more entitlement to a public role, much less a governmental one, than the obscure wives of Soviet leaders in the days between Lenin and Gorbachev. To assume that Sen. Clinton has Presidential experience that would exempt her from "on the job training" is to concede that Bill Clinton was right back in 1992 when he promised that voters would get two for the price of one, and that his wife was for eight years some sort of unelected, or at best implicitly-elected but nonetheless unconstitutional co-President, having perpetuated, with the connivance of her husband, a nearly unprecedented usurpation of executive power (the degree of precedent depending on whether you believe that Woodrow Wilson's wife ran the country when he was felled by a stroke in 1919). I hope I won't be thought of as a sexist pig if I consider this presumption a monstrous one; it would be just the same if Bill Clinton claimed or was granted similar privileges should his wife win the White House next year.
To sum up, Senator Clinton here baldly asserted her dynastic claim to the Presidency. She claimed, in effect, that her presence in the Presidential household counts for more than the Senatorial experience of Messrs. Biden, Dodd, Edwards, Gravel and Obama, the Congressional and mayoral experience of Rep. Kucinich, and the gubernatorial and diplomatic experience of Governor Richardson, not to mention her own seven years in the Senate. The only thing that puts her pretensions somewhere above those of George W. Bush is the fact that she did participate in her husband's administration, while W. did little apart from electioneering for his father. But saying that you're slightly better than the present President is like saying you're inches above the earth while falling at supersonic speed. In this case, may the crash come soon.