Posted by: Christine Johnson | March 20, 2008

Experience, Sure, But What Kind?

Hillary’s schedules from when she was amassing all that experience as First Lady have now been released. According to

The schedules, made public Wednesday, offer only the skeleton of her life as first lady and neither confirm nor rebut her claims that her White House experience prepared her to one day hold the office of president.

Though there’s little to suggest she had a seat at the table for substantive negotiations during trips abroad, the schedules reflect her active involvement back home on key domestic policy initiatives, most notably the failed health care reforms pushed by her husband’s administration. The schedules will surely provide fodder to supporters of her rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, who argues that Clinton, now a New York senator, drastically exaggerated her involvement in the achievements of Bill Clinton’s presidency, particularly in the foreign policy arena.

The schedules cover more than 11,000 pages. Nearly half of the schedule pages include redactions, justified primarily by codes indicating the excluded information “would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy” or “would disclose information compiled for law enforcement purposes.”

Of course, she was there for a lot of foreign trips:

To be sure, the schedules detail scores of White House meetings with foreign dignitaries and trips around the globe. But in almost every case, Clinton appears to have filled the traditional role of goodwill emissary rather than diplomat in her own right.

One typical instance was a three-day, January 1994 trip with her husband and daughter to Russia and Belarus. While in Russia, President Clinton and then-Russian President Boris Yeltsin unveiled an agreement between their nations and Ukraine intended to secure former Soviet nuclear warheads. In Belarus, the President prodded leaders to institute democratic reforms and signed an agreement to encourage U.S. investment.

When Hillary Clinton wasn’t participating in ceremonial events with her husband, her schedule shows she spent most of her time with Yeltsin’s wife and other Russian and Belarusian spouses and U.S. officials. She toured a cathedral and two hospitals, watched a birthing class, took in a ballet and had a lunch at the Kremlin of blinis with caviar and salmon, game chaudfroid and mutton baked in puff pastry.

Of course, that definitely qualifies her, right? I’m not saying that it’s a necessity (after all, G. W. Bush didn’t have tons of foreign diplomatic experience), but she has touted that she’s got all this great experience dealing with foreign dignitaries, right? “Thirty-five years of experience” and all?

It’s a bit like me saying that I’ve got experience running training classes for a Fortune 500 corporation because I was in Florida with my husband on a business trip, even though I didn’t do the actual classes and was visiting family instead.

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