March 12, 2008

"Saying that Hillary has Executive Branch experience is like saying Yoko Ono was a Beatle."

Glenn Reynolds quotes a commenter on DailyKos.

I disagree. Saying that Hillary was President is like saying Yoko Ono was a Beatle. Yoko Ono definitely had a Beatles experience. The serious question here is whether one gains something useful by watching someone else do a job and being in a position to have many deep and involved discussions with him about his work as a trusted advisor. This experience alone won't make you the equal of the person you've observed so closely. You'll have to practice the finger movements before you can play guitar, and your aptitude for the job hasn't been tested. It's not everything but it's not nothing.

47 comments:

freelunch said...

Should we credit her with familiarity with the labor movement because she was on the Wal*Mart board?

JDAXC said...

and is she a retail, distribution, and merchandising pioneer because she served on the Wal-Mart board?

SteveR said...

Closer to nothing...

Simon said...

Ann:
"This experience alone won't make you the equal of the person you've observed so closely. You'll have to practice the finger movements before you can play guitar...."

That's an interesting analogy; I wonder how far it can extend. Playing an instrument like the guitar has a physical component; how you physically attack the instrument, how you prefer to articulate give notes, &c., all contribute to how the notes come out. That's why guitar's such a richly expressive instrument: the notes are only the beginning. I would imagine that spending a great deal of time with a person, seeing how they tackle these physical aspects of playing the instrument, would allow someone to much more readily reproduce that person's sound than someone who just listened to the record.

Hillary's experience in the White House probably leaves her rich in the nuance; that's not a substitute for the notes, but it is, as you say, not nothing. She's got an idea of what works and what doesn't within the real confines of the Presidency, which is what her "hit the ground running" campaign's trying to convey, I think. I have no idea if that's accurate, but I think she's trying to imply that you won't have any of those Hillarycare pratfalls with her, while Obama will still be learning the ropes of the office - that is, the realities of the office, as opposed to the simplified caricature that the general public (including Congress) sees - by the next election.

madawaskan said...

You know I always felt it went something like this-

She knew that Bill was not as smart as her and not as devoted- i.e. he had that thing, that took up alot of his spare time-kinda like having a three year old that you can't find a babysitter for-and she said jeebus if he can do it, and they love him so much-I can do it better and I don't have that same you know "three year old".

The same thing that gets most guys in trouble.

Ever find a female politican in a brothel?

Maybe Bella Abzug but you know it's a stretch.

[damn maybe it's a eighteen year old that you can't find a babysitter for...]

rhhardin said...

The joke trades on Yoko ruining the Beatles, rather than just being close.

Middle Class Guy said...

"It's not everything but it's not nothing."



It's not everything but it's not enough. She is not just running on her First Lady "experience" but on thirty five years of public service "experience". I keep asking what experience?

Even Bill Clinton has not cited one specific policy she has had a positive impact on.

I grudgingly giver her credit for what she has learned. I also giver her credit for the respect she has garnered in political circles on both sides. But, what exactly has she done?

Trevor Jackson said...

The joke also trades on the terrible music that Yoko Ono makes.

TROBlog said...

That's an interesting analogy; I wonder how far it can extend. Playing an instrument like the guitar has a physical component; how you physically attack the instrument, how you prefer to articulate give notes, &c., all contribute to how the notes come out. That's why guitar's such a richly expressive instrument: the notes are only the beginning. I would imagine that spending a great deal of time with a person, seeing how they tackle these physical aspects of playing the instrument, would allow someone to much more readily reproduce that person's sound than someone who just listened to the record.

Hillary's experience in the White House probably leaves her rich in the nuance; that's not a substitute for the notes, but it is, as you say, not nothing. She's got an idea of what works and what doesn't within the real confines of the Presidency, which is what her "hit the ground running" campaign's trying to convey, I think. I have no idea if that's accurate, but I think she's trying to imply that you won't have any of those Hillarycare pratfalls with her, while Obama will still be learning the ropes of the office - that is, the realities of the office, as opposed to the simplified caricature that the general public (including Congress) sees - by the next election.


Excellent thought. While I can't stand her, I do think that she would hit the ground running where Obama would be crawling on baby legs. She is well-aware of how and how not to get things done in Washington and, through watching Bill and no doubt providing more than a little input into what he did, she certainly knows more than Obama does when it comes to being President.

Will she use that knowledge and experience wisely? I doubt it.

But then again I don't think Obama will use any wisdom in his Presidency either.

titussplitleap said...

Madonna has more executive experience than Hilary.

Look at that empire she manages. Her budget is huge.

The tours, the dancers, the choreographers, the videos, the new looks, the yoga instructors, all the designers, lawyers, accountants, subsidiary rights.

I love Madonna so much.

garage mahal said...

"A commenter on DailyKos"

Which diary?

Hillary is a cross between Hitler/Lizzie Borden or Nixon/Annie Wilkes? With Poll!

Racist Face-Painting Ninjas working covertly with Karl Rove to drug Superdelegates with blowdarts?

Is Bill Clinton really Client #9 ???

Dewave said...

Good catch. The quote is subtly dishonest and inconsistent in its wording.

It should be "Saying that Hillary has Executive Branch Experience is like saying Yoko Ono has Beatles Experience"

which could well be true. The question is, what kind of experience and how much?

Middle Class Guy said...

titussplitleap said...
Madonna has more executive experience than Hilary.

Look at that empire she manages. Her budget is huge.

The tours, the dancers, the choreographers, the videos, the new looks, the yoga instructors, all the designers, lawyers, accountants, subsidiary rights.

I love Madonna so much.





Madonna for President!!!!!!!!!!!!!

madawaskan said...

Wait....

Isn't this some version of the chickenhawk argument?

They were for it before they were against it?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Huckabee said something interesting and funny on an interview last night regarding Hillary running on experience.

Words to the effect: That if he were to say he had experienced childbirth because he was in the delivery room when his wife gave birth to their 3 children, most women would probably want to slap him sidways.

former law student said...

Our lack of universal health care makes me agree HRC is well-aware of how not to get things done in Washington. How to get things done: not so much.

Revenant said...

Since none of the remaining candidates for President have any executive experience worth mentioning, arguing over exactly what kind of non-experience they have seems a little silly.

David said...

The old distinction between "line" and "staff" is relevant here. Being an advisor to a decision-maker is entirely different from *being* the decision-maker, with the authority to make the decision and the responsibility to be evaluated on its outcome. Being a legislator is not being an executive, and running a Senate office or a fighter squadron represents executive experience on only a very small scale.

Based on the current candidates, one would think we are electing either a chief policy wonk or a chief speechmaker.

Ron said...

George Martin, Mal Evans, and Brian Epstein had 'Beatles experience' too (even more than Ono), but I wouldn't want them to front my band! Nor would I want Stu Sutcliffe or Pete Best for that matter.

Bill Clinton can yell "I got blisters on my fingers!," not Hillary...

Trooper York said...

Bill never got blisters on his fingers. And those were cold sores.

Balfegor said...

Re: David

Based on the current candidates, one would think we are electing either a chief policy wonk or a chief speechmaker.

That covers Clinton and Obama. But McCain isn't particuarly good at speeches, and he isn't particularly deft with the policy details either.

Being a legislator is not being an executive, and running a Senate office or a fighter squadron represents executive experience on only a very small scale.

True. It's also worth noting that the proxy some people have tried to use in the absence of any real evidence of executive or managerial quality -- the way the candidates have run their campaigns -- isn't much of a proxy either, unless your idea of a good chief executive is the spokesperson for an advertising campaign.

Revenant said...

People are reading too much into the analogy. It doesn't matter whether it would be more accurate to say Ono "had Beatles experience"; the point of the analogy is that Hillary's position in the Clinton Administration was akin to Ono's in the Beatles. She was involved in some of the activities, but nobody in their right mind thinks she was a driving force behind their successes, or that she somehow acquired skill and talent through osmosis just by being around the actually skilled and talented people she worked with. Did anybody ever say "oh, awesome, a new Yoko Ono album -- its the best thing since the Beatles"? I'm sure a few sick individuals did, but for the most part no. :)

That's the point. Not whether or not Hillary can claim "experience", but whether there's any reason to care about what experience she had. That's the "Ono" parallel -- that Hillary might have hung around the White House, but she didn't contribute anything worthwhile and didn't emerge from the experience with any skills worth noting.

Richard Dolan said...

"The serious question here is whether one gains something useful by watching someone else do a job and being in a position to have many deep and involved discussions with him about his work as a trusted advisor."

The "watching/talking" mode of supporting a claim to have acquired executive experience seems quite odd. But take that logic and run with it a bit. If that qualifies as "experience," I suppose a scholar who has studied a Presidential administration in detail, poured over the relevant papers in the Presidential library, and interviewed the players, would have a similar claim to have acquired "executive experience." But no one really has that sort of thing in mind when they claim to have acquired "experience" in doing something. Something funny -- a little "eely", to use Ann's word about Fish -- is happening to the words.

To say that such second-hand "executive experience" is "not nothing" is just tautological. But I don't see how it supports Hillary's claim to be "ready on day 1." In all events, it's not what Hillary is trying to project. She wants to convey the idea that, based on her "experience," she has acquired the judgment, seasoning, understanding -- i.e., everything that goes along with experience of the acquired-from-doing sort -- to be ready to answer the red phone at 3 am.

The example of learning to play an instrument by watching an experienced musician is unhelpful here, and fanciful to boot. No one learns to play any instrument that way. Watching the master musician is a small part of how the skill can be taught, but pales in significance to practice, endless practice. Same with any profession -- a student can learn a lot by watching, say, a talented surgeon or trial lawyer do his thing, but that student will never acquire the skills until he does it himself (and learns from his own mistakes).

So count me as deeply skeptical about "executive experience" supposedly acquired by the "watching/talking" method. While I agree that "it's not nothing," in the context in which Hillary wants to talk about "executive experience," it's pretty close to nothing.

Balfegor said...

Re: Revenant

She was involved in some of the activities, but nobody in their right mind thinks she was a driving force behind their successes, or that she somehow acquired skill and talent through osmosis just by being around the actually skilled and talented people she worked with.

The same could be said of Vice Presidents, though, Cheney being the only real exception. Theirs is an office without any power other than what the President decides to give them (well, other than being able to vote from time to time in the Senate). And Presidents typically don't give them much. But we still view Vice Presidents as having a credible claim on relevant executive experience, not so much because they've done anything as the chief executive as because they've been the understudy for the chief executive for the past 4-8 years. Watching. And hopefully learning.

terrance said...

I am not a neurosurgeon, or even a doctor, but you definitely want me performing neurosurgery on you for two reasons.

1. My wife is a neurosurgeon, and
2. I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

Kirby Olson said...

Monica Lewinsky would therefore qualify, too?

Quayle said...

Hum, the Hillary-Yoko analogy.

Pretty clear that Bill Clinton thought he was more popular than Jesus Christ.

Still, I can't and don't want to envision a picture of Bill and Hillary sitting naked together in bed to protest the war in Iraq.

But on the other hand, maybe that is what's missing with her mojo.

Revenant said...

But we still view Vice Presidents as having a credible claim on relevant executive experience, not so much because they've done anything as the chief executive as because they've been the understudy for the chief executive for the past 4-8 years. Watching. And hopefully learning.

The thing is, post-WW2 vice presidents HAVE been treated like Presidential understudies. They have security clearances, they are kept up-to-date on the administration's plans and goals -- in short, they are generally kept fully aware of what the President is doing, plans to do, and how he plans to do it. This is necessary because of the possibility that the President might be killed and the Vice President may need to act immediately afterwards.

Unless both Bill and Hillary committed countless felonies during their time in the White House -- which admittedly isn't outside the realm of possibility -- Hillary didn't have that kind of access and training. The reason is that she while she may have been sleeping with Bill Clinton, she wasn't a government official and wasn't cleared for classified information.

Hillary's "I have experience" schtick is based on letting people assume that she had that kind of inside access. Well, if she did then she needs to be in prison right alongside whoever gave her the access. If she didn't, then she's got no more White House experience than any other civilian follower of politics.

Balfegor said...

Well, if she did then she needs to be in prison right alongside whoever gave her the access.

The . . . uh . . . the President? Who is, if I recall correctly, completely empowered to do that if he likes.

Balfegor said...

Building on this further, I recall reading about how President Clinton had his teenage daughter sitting in on cabinet meetings. I just don't get the sense that the Clinton Administration was a real stickler about what was classified and what was not, at least as far as the President's immediate family was concerned.

Trooper York said...

Well Buddy the Lab picked out where we would bomb the terrorists in the aspirn factory. That's why he was assinated by the CIA. The had to muzzle him so to speak. It was a big coverup.

former law student said...

Here's my analogy. Having ridden in private planes and watched the pilot, I can pull back the stick to go up, and push it in to go down. I can even keep it on a heading that the pilot selected. But I've never taken off or landed, much less navigated. And I sure as hell can't solo.

Revenant said...

The . . . uh . . . the President? Who is, if I recall correctly, completely empowered to do that if he likes.

I'm not sure that he is, actually. But even if he is, the fact remains that he didn't. The legal procedure for granting someone access to classified information is more involved than simply saying "sure, sweetie, you can read the file if you like".

You know that cliche, in movies, of government officials saying "that's on a need-to-know basis, and you don't need to know"? In reality that's how ALL classified information is treated; you aren't allowed to give anyone access to it who doesn't have a need to know about it. The First Lady doesn't need to know anything except how to host tea parties, and I'm pretty sure that information wasn't classified.

I just don't get the sense that the Clinton Administration was a real stickler about what was classified and what was not, at least as far as the President's immediate family was concerned.

Well, yeah -- like I hinted above, saying the President wasn't a real stickler for obeying the law is something of an understatement where Clinton was concerned. But if Clinton WAS feeding classified information to his wife, I'd like to hear them admit it. Right now they're just coyly hinting that she was in the loop without actually admitting to the felonious actions that would have entailed.

Methadras said...

The real problem with Hillary is that it isn't enough and it certainly won't be enough with Obama, nor McCain. Why? Because they are Senators, not executives nor administrators of anything other than their own offices and staff. And even then they are mostly hands off. The only reason Hillary can claim a modicum of experience in the white house is because she was their and then given a task to radicalize health care as a collective governmental institution to supplant the already existing system. She failed and failed hard. It's not like she bothered to retry bringing it back during her tenure as first lady. She simply gave up when the opposition was so great and overwhelming in its tsunami like response. Given her tantrums in other positions within the white house, for example like the travel office, where firing everyone may be construed as executive privilege and yet was a seemingly dumb idea, then one has to ask the real question on whether whatever experience she has garnered while in the white house was actually valuable?

It's one thing for Hillary to claim she has experience in this or in that, but the question no one is asking is, does it actually have merit? Is it of value and does it directly relate to the position she is running for? How does a first lady's position reconcile with the life and death decisions that a president has to make on a daily basis. Watching and doing are two different things, but Hillary would tell you, "Hey, I was there, I saw it happen, therefore I know what it takes."

Yeah, maybe so, but she had zero authority to affect anything one way or the other. She didn't pen her name to legislation or executive orders, Bill did. That is a markedly different distinction than she is claiming she has experience in.

RHSwan said...

Revenant,
Hillary could have had a clearance in Bill's White House if he wanted her to have one. The President can give people a temporary clearance if he/she deems it necessary. This is usually done to allow people to either do a job on a short term basis or to allow them to do the job until their normal clearance came through. The length of this clearance is up to the President.

ricpic said...

A mind like Hillary's, a third rate apparatchik mind, learns nothing from experience and forgets nothing of the rigid doctrine in which it was formed: as in, They learn nothing and they forget nothing, which was coined to describe the French Bonapartists of the mid 19th century who tried to reinstate the Napoleonic State without Napoleon; Hillary's Napoleon being Marx, of course.

George said...

NPR did a piece tonight about her international experience. Summary....

She gave a speech in China saying that women's rights were human rights.

She did a photo op in Belfast with Catholic and Protestant women.

She met with the PM of Slovenia? And she gave a speech about the horrors of ethnic cleansing.

She visited 80 (?) nations in her official capacity as first lady.

She did not ululate. That was Yoko.

Elliott A said...

With apologies to Geraldine Ferraro, Hillary is where she is only because her "husband" was president, and she had the motive and opportunity to build the machinery that would enable her candidacy. There are many more able individuals, including women, out there. She has no clue what it is like to live as the typical American, and has no clue how to be CEO of a 300 million member organization. She has no clue how to hire competent people to run her campaign, let alone the USA. She was never in the military. Bill's lack of military experience led to the deciamtion of our capabilities in the 90s along with acts of genius such as "don't ask, don't tell". One can become winded listing her nonexperience. Hillary's effect on the country would mirror Yoko's effect on the Beatles; disaster.

Cedarford said...

madawaskan said...
You know I always felt it went something like this-
She knew that Bill was not as smart as her and not as devoted- i.e. he had that thing, that took up alot of his spare time-kinda like having.


Except that you are wrong. Bill Clinton was the brillant one. Hillary the slightly above average IQ person that made it on being a good, dedicated, diligent girl who always got the "effort" gold stars - but never got to the top.

Not in any of her schools or in law. Or, it looks like, to the Presidency...

Simon said...

Cedarford said...
"Hillary ... made it on being a good, dedicated, diligent girl who always got the 'effort' gold stars - but never got to the top."

Irony, alive and well in America.

Revenant said...

Hillary could have had a clearance in Bill's White House if he wanted her to have one.

Yes, but he didn't give her one.

Fen said...

This was always a moronic contention by the Clinton camp. This is not a mundane task that you can pick up by observation, this is the leadership of the most powerful nation in history, in time of war.

Zeb Quinn said...

This was always a moronic contention by the Clinton camp

It's only moronic if you take Bill out of the future equation. The implication is that he'll be right there, whispering in her ear.

Otherwise Hillary may have a very bright future as a dog-training guru. Just demonstrate to the dog what to do, and shazam! --trained.

TMink said...

"Yoko Ono definitely had a Beatles experience."

As did we all of a certain age. Hers was certainly more close to the creative work, but then there are those nagging questions about her destroying it too.

The bottom line is not that she was there, but that she is not equipped to serve in the role of a Beatle. 15 seconds of her recordings is all it takes to confirm that! What I have read of her art was much more interesting than her music.

And so it is with Hillary! She may have been there and seen it, but she is in no way qualified as a (gulp) Bill replacement.

Trey

Revenant said...

It's only moronic if you take Bill out of the future equation. The implication is that he'll be right there, whispering in her ear.

But by that standard anybody could be qualified to be President. All they have to do is say "and of course I will be happy to have [insert former President's name] as a trusted adviser".

Zeb Quinn said...

But by that standard anybody could be qualified to be President. All they have to do is say "and of course I will be happy to have [insert former President's name] as a trusted adviser".

But Hillary doesn't have to say it. It's already there, built-in, installed, and ready to go. And she's banking on people liking that idea.

Jenni said...

My husband is a System Administrator for his company. I've visited his office many times, been out to dinner with his co-workers, even passed along phone messages from his boss. So, how exactly, does this experience qualify me to do his job?