In humble attempt at casting this in the tradition of Socrates, a (slightly altered) quote:

"The unexamined vote is not worth casting."

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Pray Tell Hillary, What KIND of Experience?

A resume from floor to ceiling tells a potential employer that the applicant has experience, yes. But what employer worth his salt would stop there? Might there be a second, more important question asked, regarding the quality of that experience?

Hillary indeed has experience, but her strident touting of said experience belies the dirty underbelly of the issue. Case in point (the most important case in point): Of the two Dems left in it, Mrs. Clinton is undoubtedly the one with the most experience--indeed the only experience--of sending us into what has been described as the “worst foreign policy disaster since Vietnam” (those are Richard Holbrooke’s words, former UN Ambassador under Bill Clinton and purportedly a possible Secretary of State under Hillary). Not only did Hillary support this war with her early vote, but as also noted in the above article, she plans to enlist the same crew if she were to make it to the White House: "Clinton has lined up a foreign policy team dominated by those who shared her early support for the war in Iraq, but then, like her, changed their minds."

But more to the point of this post, her "experience" is marred by this vote in my view. Of the myriad issues comprising the arguments in this primary season, we must remember that they are not all created equal. War must be paramount if we are to claim a high view of human life. The hundreds of thousands dead because of it, must be at the forefront of our mind when considering "the issues." Thus her vote is deeply troubling, based on my analysis of it. And, simply speaking, it has told me enough about her experience for me to realize that I do not want her as my president.

Yet each one of us, if we are to make our decision with the most information possible, must examine the details of that vote to come to a thoughtful determination. I do not want to go into the full reasoning for my decision here, as I have done so in past posts, but I'll provide a few links here before explaining a bit more why I find her vote to be so troubling. As I have described here, there were over 150 members of the U.S. House and Senate that opposed that 2002 vote to authorize use of force against Iraq. In that same post, I lay out some of the reasons those members of Congress voted against the war. I also discuss those reasons here, in a post highlighting parts of a speech given by Congressman Dennis Kucinich (former presidential candidate) a week before the vote.

Furthermore, when Clinton was preparing to vote for this use of force against Iraq, Obama was, as all likely know by now, opposing the war in a 2002 speech, including the now famous line, “I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of Al Qaeda” (emphasis added). Both of Obama’s points about the problems of an invasion and the strengthening of Al Qaeda were unfortunately proven true. (More excerpts and a link to the full speech are available in this previous post.)

To draw out my initial analogy though, imagine, if you would, an employer who is considering hiring an accountant. One candidate has years of experience, and has shown to do well in a number of areas. However, at one point she, in conjunction with others, made a decision that caused an accounting disaster, plummeting her organization into debt. Might this be a fair, and even more so, a necessary consideration for the employer? Is it not one of, if not the most important consideration in terms of that accountant's “experience”? And lastly, would it not augment the need to consider this aspect of her experience if many of her coworkers had warned that she and others were making the wrong decision? Certainly the details of the scenario would have to be examined prior to a final decision by the employer, but a nuanced judgment would be needed, wherein the employer would weigh the good and the bad of her experience. Indeed a judgment might be made that yes, the accountant did have some good experience, but in one of the most integral areas of her job, she made the wrong decision—thus, to overstate the obvious, she had some significant bad experience.

Imagine further that the employer had an alternate candidate who had spoken up, albeit from outside the organization, warning against the bad decision that was eventually made. It stands to reason that this aspect of the alternate candidate’s experience, and the judgment it showed, would be a significant factor, particularly given that the area in question was central to the job. If the alternate had less experience, the question might then become, does he have enough experience? And this question is where I will end this post and pick up with my next, "The Rich Experience of an Obama."

Update: An addendum here, from a recent Washington Post article: "[Clinton's] refusal -- her inability -- to simply confess poor judgment says to me that her vote was politically motivated. In that, she was not alone. All of her 2008 Democratic primary colleagues who were in the Senate at the time voted for the war resolution. Many other Senate Democrats voted against it -- on the basis not of different facts but of a different judgment about the same facts." Based on the facts that were available at the time, as I linked to above, and the sentiment around the country that we needed to be "tough on terrorism," it's not beyond possibility in my mind that Clinton voted politically and not ethically. If it was not political however, I find it no less troubling: she either wasn't diligent enough in researching the available facts (which does not seem as likely), or she did not view war as an utter last resort, as I feel compelled to (along with those such as Sen. Carl Levin, as noted here).

Update 2: I should add that while Clinton's 35-year claim to experience is true in part, as noted in this CQ article on it, some aspects of it are worrisome, on top of the Iraq war vote; namely, her attempt at bringing about health care reform during the Clinton Administration excluded even some Democrats, and was of course unsuccessful on a whole.

No comments: