Mazzuca: Hillary’s experience hard to track |

Mazzuca: Hillary’s experience hard to track

What qualifies a man or woman to be president of the United States? Most of us I suspect, evaluate the respective candidates’ positions on the issues, their character, their penchant to unite or polarize, and their experience.

Issues are open to debate; character and the facility to unite or propensity to divide can be gleaned from past behavior and observation, while experience can usually be ascertained by examining the respective candidate’s public record. But how do we measure the experience of a candidate when his or her ‘public record’ isn’t really public?

Senator Hillary Clinton’s record as a member of the Senate is available for anyone who wishes to examine it, but much of the experience she refers to on the campaign trail occurred during the eight years she was first lady, and is not readily apparent.

The Clinton campaign tells us the senator’s experience qualifies her for the Oval Office. However, since the voting public isn’t privy to what actually occurred within the Clinton White House, how is the average person able to judge just how active Mrs. Clinton was in establishing policy during Bill Clinton’s administration, vis-à-vis the fact that the Clintons haven’t released the records from their White House years?

The anti-Hillary camp is quick to point to her attempt to socialize the health-care industry. It was secretive, expensive and failed to gain traction on the Hill or with the American people. However, that particular episode may not be a good yardstick to gauge the senator’s experience because Mrs. Clinton is a very smart woman and it’s doubtful she would make those same mistakes again.

Sen. Clinton links herself to hubby Bill’s job creation, budget balancing, economic programs and domestic policies initiatives. So is Mrs. Clinton uniquely qualified for the presidency because of her two term co-presidency with Bill? The voters must answer that question, but for some insight into the matter we should consider the following.

In her 2003 book, “Living History,” Mrs. Clinton doesn’t claim to have been an influential co-president working and learning at her husband’s side. In fact, most of what she takes credit for involved traditional first lady issues, such as child care and cancer research while hardly mentioning her role in any of the signature issues of the Clinton presidency.

Meanwhile, on the campaign trail the senator references her advocacy in the White House on social security, the bankruptcy reform bill, violence in the media, budget cuts and improvement in the Family and Medical Leave Act. But in his memoirs, Bill rarely mentions Hillary’s role in any of his administration’s policies-except for health care.

Of the 102 mentions of Hillary in Bill Clinton’s “My Life,” 34 entries describe trips taken by the first couple, 26 entries are about Whitewater or other investigations, 17 entries are about their personal relationship, 11 entries are about Hillary’s integrity, character, her writing a book, supporting American crafts, etc., nine entries describe her role in health care and five entries indicate substantive roles in speaking out for women’s rights in China; campaigning for child protection legislation; campaigning for Democratic candidates, the Millennium Project, and a White House staff gathering at Camp David.

Perhaps Hillary did participate more than is referenced in those books; nevertheless it would be prudent for the voter to examine the following statements by Senator Clinton:

1.”I supported welfare reform and worked hard to round up the votes,” but Bill makes no mention of her role concerning that important issue.

2. “Bill and I convened a White House strategy session on how to curb media violence directed at children.” Bill credited Al and Tipper Gore with a drive to get V chips in televisions. He does not mention Hillary.

3. “I also spent two years helping … stave off cuts in legal services, the arts, education, Medicare and Medicaid.” President Clinton makes no mention of Hillary in discussing the budget cuts.

4. “I worked hard … to spearhead adoption reform.” Bill writes about how proud he was about his “sweeping reforms of our adoption laws” without mentioning Hillary.

5. “Bill and I wanted tougher child support collection efforts.” Bill discusses this in detail, but there is no mention of Hillary.

In addition, Sen. Clinton was not part of the negotiations on welfare reform nor was she involved with most of the talks with the Republicans that led to the balanced-budget deal. Further, after the problems with her health-care initiative she stopped attending strategy meetings and basically limited herself to the customary roles of a first lady, i.e. traveling extensively and acting as an ambassador of goodwill both at home and abroad and writing her book, “It Takes a Village.”

Sen. Clinton may very well be the most qualified candidate in the field. But before one reaches that conclusion, it would be wise to take full measure of her positions on the issues, her character and her ability to bring people together rather than the experience she asserts she has.

Quote of the day: “Using the term “an undocumented immigrant” is akin to calling a drug dealer “an unlicensed pharmacist.”

Butch Mazzuca is a business consultant and writes a column for the Vail Daily. He can be reached at

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