Clinton’s Experience Claims Debunked by Congressional Quarterly

One reason that Hillary Clinton’s campaign has been unsuccessful is that she has failed to provide a compelling reason for many of us to vote for her. Initially Clinton’s campaign was based upon her being the inevitable winner, but that collapsed when she lost the Iowa caucus. She also claims experience as a reason to vote for her, but that argument doesn’t hold up very well either. Congressional Quarterly evaluated her claims and found they were untrue. First they reviewed her claims:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton often boasts that she has a long resume — 35 years long, to be precise.

“I have 35 years’ experience making change,” she said in a TV ad.

“I’ve gotten up for 35 years every day and tried to figure out what I could do to help somebody else,” she said in a TV interview.

Asked about the difference between her and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama , she replied, “Well, about 35 years of experience.”

She has used the phrase “35 years” in at least 55 speeches, debates and interviews since 2004, according to our search of a public statements database maintained by Project Vote Smart. So it’s no surprise that a Google search of “Hillary Clinton” and “35 years” yields 515,000 hits.

Next they determined if her claims were true:

In simple terms, any experience counts as experience, but it’s clear from the context of Clinton’s remarks that she’s speaking about public policy experience, so that’s how we have focused our examination. We’ll start with the math.

Clinton is 60, so if we assume that her 35 years were consecutive, they would have begun in 1973 when she graduated from Yale Law School at age 25. That year she joined the Children’s Defense Fund, an advocacy group for children.

But her math was way off when she claimed the difference with Obama is “35 years of experience.” By our count, Obama, who is 14 years younger than Clinton, has three years of experience as a community organizer, four years as a full-time attorney handling voting rights, employment and housing cases, and 11 years in the Illinois Senate and U.S. Senate. That’s a total of 18 years. So the difference between Clinton and Obama is really 17 years. We rate her claim False.

Has Clinton really awakened every morning for 35 years and “tried to figure out what I could do to help somebody else,” as she claims? We can’t read the senator’s mind, so this one’s not verifiable. If she’s like us, our first thought every morning is about coffee, not helping mankind.

Clinton has some experience during the past thirty-five years but it is hardly sufficient to consider her more qualified to be president. Often the experience consisted of assignment to part times posts while she was primarily working in corporate law. This included sitting on the board of Wal-Mart as they fought unions. Her years as first lady are of some value, but again are hardly sufficient to qualify her to be president. I’ve previously noted reports that Clinton did not have national security clearance as first lady. Her major action as first lady was on health care, which didn’t turn out very well. In contrast, Obama was successful in his efforts at expanding health care in Illinois. It is also notable that, although she is running on her experience, she is keeping the records from her years as first lady secret until after the election.

If we are to count every year since graduation from law school, Clinton does have more years with some experience. What is more important is the type of experience and what was done with it. While Clinton’s experience was frequently based upon seeking government solutions to problems, Obama was involved as a community organizer. This might partially explain why Clinton concentrates on imposing government solutions for problems while Obama also considers ways in which people can help themselves.

While Clinton was practicing corporate law, Obama was teaching Constitutional law. This has had an impact in his strong support for separation of church and state and the differences in their views on presidential power and executive privilege as Clinton supports decreased transparency and would be more likely to continue, and I fear abuse, the powers taken by George Bush.

I’ve noted Obama’s legislative record in another post this morning. In contrast, Clinton has supported the Iraq war, voted for Kyl-Lieberman, opposed needle exchange programs, favored strict sentences for drug use (while Obama has favored retroactive changes), supported legislation to ban flag burning, supported censorship of video games, and opposed the banning of cluster bombs. These are just some of the areas where I feel Clinton was wrong and Obama was right. Clinton’s experience certainly does not mean having better judgment on the issues

Cross posted at The Carpetbagger Report


  1. 1
    ariel says:

    I would like to express my disappointment with CNN’s post analysis of the Clinton – Obama debate. The debaters appeared to lean towards Clinton regardless of her failure to actually focus on the question at hand and providing actual solutions. For example her solution to our budget crisis was to ask for a solution from her cabinet members unlike Obama who had actual plans at hand to attempt to solve these issues. Clinton’s answers we?re orientated toward her past history of attempts at changing political policy (which have not drastically changed our society)she fought for universal health care in the past and lost?.what I’d really like to know is why should I believe she can make it work now. If her “actions speak louder than words” she’s telling me she can’t bring the change needed. The use of condescending language and demeanor toward her opponent turned my stomach quite frankly. What ultimately bothered me the most was how blind-sighted people seemed to be by her “feel good statements” which in essence showed complete lack of empathy with the American people. Her most testing moment ultimately boils down to dealing with her husband having extramarital affairs ( which is not evidence of solving major crisis) as opposed to Obama discussing his plight in struggling to help those in need by obtaining jobs and fighting for their civil rights. Her final feel good statement’s ultimate bottom line said I don?t need to worry about this election, my life is good either way, this is America’s problem…not hers. How any one felt reassured by this statement makes me question whether her supporters will be the ones truly suspected of being “delusional”.

  2. 2
    Karen says:

    And, the Clintons gave comfort and aid to the terrorist group FALN by pardoning them and invoking executive privilege when questioned about it.

    What’s up with Geraldine Ferraro’s article in The New York Times plugging for super delegates to elect Hillary and to seat the Florida AND Michigan delegates? Also, HIllary supporter, Governor Jennifer Granholm (Michigan), was on “Face the Nation” Sunday and was giddy, smiling, saying that this would all be solved before the convention.

    Hmmm…Ralph Nader too.

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