Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy ‘Experience’ Unscheduled

Recently released schedules of Hillary Clinton’s eight years as First Lady document that she was mostly engaged in frivolous, unrelated activities during foreign policy events for which she has claimed “experience.” Or do they?

The NYT lede:

When the World Trade Center was attacked for the first time on Feb. 26, 1993, President Bill Clinton flew to New York to be briefed on the attack and the response by city, state and federal authorities. According to newly released White House calendars of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s time as first lady, Mrs. Clinton stayed behind in Washington to attend a photo shoot with Parade magazine and a performance of “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

Seven years later, in October 2000, Mr. and Mrs. Clinton were enjoying a quiet weekend at their new home in Chappaqua, N.Y., when word came that the Cole, an American destroyer, had been attacked in a Yemen port. Mr. Clinton rushed back to the White House to deal with the crisis. Mrs. Clinton returned to the campaign trail in her run for the Senate.

Her supporters argue this is unfair:

Mrs. Clinton’s aides argued that the calendars backed up her argument that her time as first lady was marked by substantial foreign policy experience, although they emphasized that the calendars only show her public events and do not reflect the wide sphere of influence she had with her husband and others. “The schedules are only a guide for Senator Clinton’s time in the White House and by their nature don’t include a lot of the very kinds of things that gave her deep experience in her eight years there — calls with world leaders, impromptu meetings and strategy sessions are all omitted from the schedule,” said Jay Carson, a Clinton campaign spokesman. “And some of her greatest influence and experience was as the president’s trusted adviser — precisely the kind of thing that is invaluable but doesn’t make it on a daily schedule.”

Melanne Verveer, Mrs. Clinton’s top aide in the White House, said that she served as “her husband’s closest adviser.” “She was the first lady,” Ms. Verveer said. “She was not the commander in chief or the director of counterterrorism. But she certainly saw what her husband was going through and had a ringside seat for all these crises. And often, as in the case of the Macedonian border issue, had an active role.”

But by this standard, Nancy Reagan won the Cold War.

And this is simply laughable:

A top White House aide said that after the terrorism episodes, Mrs. Clinton made a concerted effort to maintain her normal schedule to avoid giving the impression of panic or tip off possible targets of retaliation.

So, she helped bring peace to Northern Ireland by going to Disneyland?

Still, she has clearly had a longstanding interest in public policy and her informal position gave her tremendous access:

But a former senior Clinton White House official who supports Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy but is not authorized to speak for it, said that Mrs. Clinton routinely called top White House and administration officials to inquire about policy matters or make her views known. Top aides to Mrs. Clinton also participated in high-level policy and political sessions from the first days the Clintons moved into the White House, he said. “If there was something that she was interested in weighing in on, I don’t think she ever hesitated to go ahead and call,” the aide said. He said her interests and advocacy ranged across the entire domestic and foreign policy landscape. He said she participated in various ceremonial duties, both in the United States and abroad, but foreign leaders took her seriously as an emissary of the American government.

Surely, though, she didn’t have a Top Secret clearance? If not, anyone briefing her using classified information was committing a crime. So, any input she was giving on national security policy was that of an interested outsider.

Via Alex Massie, who gives Hillary (and the NYT) less credit than I do.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Bithead says:

    But by this standard, Nancy Reagan won the Cold War.

    heheh. I take your point James, but I warn you, the left finds such an idea far more agreeable than the idea that Ronald Reagan won it.

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    Basically, just like any First Lady. The response to this, I believe, is that Sen. Clinton made vital and significant contributions but they don’t show up on logs and schedules but were more subtle and off-the-books in nature.

    I don’t have any particular problem with that response but I do think it invites the question of why Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan, or Barbara Bush haven’t been touted for the presidency. Lack of interest on their parts?

    I’ve said before that Sen. Clinton needs to be evaluated based on the resume she has rather than the resume she wishes she had and I’m sticking to that.

  3. Michael says:

    heheh. I take your point James, but I warn you, the left finds such an idea far more agreeable than the idea that Ronald Reagan won it.

    Gorbachev decided that it was more important to save Russia than to turn the West into communists. To say that Reagan or anybody else “won” the war is ridiculous.

  4. Bithead says:

    … case in point.
    Sheesh.

  5. Michael says:

    … case in point. Sheesh.

    Yes, but when you say something like “Liberals are more agreeable to the truth”, then someone points out that the truth is still the truth, that is generally a positive for liberals, not a negative.

  6. Bithead says:

    Yes, but when you say something like “Liberals are more agreeable to the truth”, then someone points out that the truth is still the truth, that is generally a positive for liberals, not a negative.

    Thing is, I didn’t SAY that, did I?

    Nor did I mean it.

  7. Michael says:

    Thing is, I didn’t SAY that, did I?

    Seems to me that you did. If you had said something like “Liberals are more agreeable to evolution” as a negative attribute, I’d have pointed out to you that evolution is factual truth. Just because a Liberal agrees with something, doesn’t automatically make that something wrong.

    The fact is that while Reagan played a big part in not losing the Cold War, as did many Presidents before him, the Soviet Union collapsed from the inside out.

  8. anjin-san says:

    Bit,

    Can you go even a single hour without saying something laughable? You identify me as a member of “the left”. I voted for Reagan twice. I think he was, overall, a good president and a damn good man. There were other factors in winning the cold war, but Reagan sealed the deal.

    Really dude, try and get out of your comic book, black and white world and join us on planet Earth.

  9. Bithead says:

    Can you go even a single hour without saying something laughable? You identify me as a member of “the left”. I voted for Reagan twice. I think he was, overall, a good president and a damn good man. There were other factors in winning the cold war, but Reagan sealed the deal.

    First of all, what, aside from your words, and your positions, would I have to identify you as such? You’re fighting the impressions you leave, and nothing more. Whose fault would they be?

    And at what point prior to your opening your editor, were you even identified at all in this trhead, much less as a liberal? You seem to be leaping up to defend against an attack which isn’t happening, yet.

    (Sigh)Since you insist, however;

    So, you were a Reagan Democrat. A goodly number of his voters were. That’s how landslides are had, after all.

    At the same time, I’d say the majority of those… (yourself included, if your writings are any indication) have lost track of the lesson he taught. So I’m not sure exactly how to credit your claim….

    Nor do I know how to credit your complaint, for that matter, given you agree Reagan ‘sealed the deal’. What, exactly, is your problem with what I said, here?

  10. anjin-san says:

    Actually, I was a Reagan Republican. When the Bush family became the dominant force in the GOP, I was far too embarrassed to remain in the party.

    Who exactly has forgotten Reagan’s lessons? Government growth and spending are out of control. Government intrusion into the lives of Americans is growing by leaps and bounds. Big brother is watching…

    Reagan essentially ended the cold war without firing a shot. Bush has us boggled down in a bloody stalemate in a war we started against a country that did not threaten us.

    I could go on for a while, but I have work to do…

  11. anjin-san says:

    Hey, I hear Elton John is doing some shows for Hillary. Did she help him write “Candle in the Wind”?

  12. Michael says:

    Hey, I hear Elton John is doing some shows for Hillary. Did she help him write “Candle in the Wind”?

    Yeah, but she did it while dodging sniper fire.