Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Experience v. Judgment

This is the dichotomy presented on the Democratic side between the front-runners Clinton and Obama. Clinton presents herself as "experience" and Obama as judgment.

Well, the Pilgrim chooses judgment.

Two thoughts on this matter.

First, what good is experience if it is not a guide to good decision making? Clinton voted for the war in Iraq, demonstrating that her experience, whatever it is, did not help keep her from throwing her support behind a self-destructive foreign policy. Rumsfeld and Cheney are supremely experienced, and yet they are the architechts of the Iraq invasion, and Clinton fell right in line. Even now she won't admit to her failure- meaning she hasn't even learned from this most recent experience.

Obama opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning. He made that clear. His judgment was superior to Clinton's.

Secondly, just what is her experience? Yes, she's served a full Senate term, and he only a part of a term, but that doesn't seem to be what she refers to in her use of the word "experienced." She seems to be referring to her time in the White House with her discussions of foreign heads of state she's met and her being "battle tested" by previous campaigns. Let's remember, when in the White House she was First Lady- not a decision maker. She's obviously an intelligent woman and capable politician, and she clearly advised her husband (not to great success when it came to her healtcare proposal, however). But she was not a policy maker. Her 8 years in the White House were largely ceremonial. She met many people, but did not have an accountable policy making role- she simply delivered messages she was supposed to deliver for the President. Just how important is this experience? Not very when it comes to policy issues, but perhaps very important when it comes to political calculations. Is that what we want- another political calculator as President?

In the end, for all her experience, she gave this nation no better than what Cheney and Rumsfeld fed her.

Clinton's vote for the war in Iraq and her unwillingness to admit her error should be a fatal flaw in the eyes of voters. It may not be, but it should be.

It is for the Pilgrim.

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