Someone, somewhere, pointed out that what Hillary Clinton takes so much pride in -- "experience" -- is more accurately described as her familiarity with Washington and issues. Familiarity is dandy, but it's only a small step on the road to wisdom. Frank Rich writes about Hillary's "experience" in today's New York Times.
The rabid hunger for change, it turns out, has made the very idea of experience as toxic as every other attribute of the Bush White House. The once-heralded notion of a C.E.O. presidency, overstocked with “tested” Washington and Fortune 500 executives like Cheney and Rumsfeld, is now in the toilet with Larry Craig. You couldn’t push the pendulum further in the other direction than by supporting a candidate like Mr. Huckabee, who is blatantly unprepared to be president and whose most impressive battle has been with his weight. In a Rasmussen poll in Florida, Mr. Huckabee even did well among foreign-policy-minded Republicans whose most important issue is Iraq.
But for Mrs. Clinton, the problem isn’t just that the Bush years have tarnished the notion that experience is a positive indicator of future performance. She has further devalued that sales pitch with her own inflated claims of what her experience has been.
Is there a single American who doesn't, by this point, want change of one kind or another? Mark Kleiman puts his finger on one significant change we are looking for -- desperate for.
Many people want to be listened to as much as they want to be agreed with. Those people will be, if not delighted, at least satisfied, if a candidate will say clearly that he understands their concerns and acknowledges the legitimacy of those concerns, even in reaching an answer they don't like. What they don't want is to be on the losing end of the culture war, ruled by people who have contempt for them and for the things they value
That concern extends to the sheer nastiness and dishonesty of Team Bush-Cheney-Rove. The last thing most of us want is more arrogance followed by more dirt followed by more cover-up. In this respect, the Bush-like tactics of Hillary Clinton's campaign are a warning.
Attacks on Mr. Obama’s record and views are fair game. But the steady personal attacks — the invocations of “cocaine” and “Hussein” and “madrassa” by surrogates — smell like the dirty tricks of the old Clinton haters. The Clinton-camp denials that these tactics have been “authorized” sound like Karl Rove’s denials of similar smear campaigns against John McCain in 2000.
Bill Clinton is annoyed with the media's lack of respect for his wife's "experience." Frank Rich counters with this:
Her choice for foreign-policy director in 2008 makes me question her ability to profit from experience and make a clean break with the establishment thinking in both parties that enabled the Iraq fiasco. Judgment calls like this rather than failures of the press may answer her husband’s question as to why the public finds her experience “irrelevant.”
So okay, keep this in mind. Wisdom and great presidencies come from the ability to profit from experience. "Experience" that leads you to make the same mistakes over and over again isn't really experience. The experience America has gained from two terms of George Bush and Dick Cheney is about to be tested by the next election. In that respect, there is a major issue which many of us are shocked to find untouched by campaign debates and media attention, and that's the issue of presidential power. Glenn Greenwald, Pruning Shears, and Charlie Savage are on top of it.
Glenn Greenwald cites Mitt Romney's unforgiveable lack of concern about the most basic civil liberties and limits on presidential powers.
Even with regard to his grudging allowance that American citizens should have "some type of habeas relief," Romney -- and only he -- implicitly endorses Alberto Gonzales' bizarre claim that -- despite the clear language of Article I, Section 9 -- "nothing in the Constitution confers an affirmative right to habeas corpus" (Question 9). Under this twisted Romney/Gonzales view, the right of habeas corpus -- which Thomas Jefferson described as "one of the essential principles of our government" and "the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution" -- is not constitutionally guaranteed to Americans but can be revoked at any time, for any reason.
Savage notes this warning.
"The sleeper issue in this campaign involves the proper scope of executive power," said Richard Epstein, a University of Chicago law professor.
Note: I guess it's pretty cold and energizing up there in New Hampshire. At least the folks in Concord are demonstrating that their heads are clear and screwed on right. The editors of the New York Times are reporting gleefully that the Concord Monitor is most definitely not endorsing Mitt Romney:
“When New Hampshire partisans are asked to defend the state’s first-in-the-nation primary, we talk about our ability to see the candidates up close, ask tough questions, and see through the baloney,” the editors wrote.
“If a candidate is a phony, we assure ourselves and the rest of the world, we’ll know it. Mitt Romney is such a candidate. New Hampshire Republicans and independents must vote no.”
...You can probably count on one thing: If Mr. Romney starts surging, television viewers are going to see that quote from the Concord Monitor editorial board on advertisements for as long as Mr. Romney is in the race.
Nice going, Monitor! Live free or die, Mittsky.