Challenged by Bloomberg Television‘s Al Hunt that Senator Barack Obama is the same age Clinton was when he first ran for President, President Bill Clinton brought the hammer down. Kristin Jensen has the story for Bloomberg.com:
Former President Bill Clinton said he was far more experienced when he made his successful 1992 White House run than Senator Barack Obama is today.
“There is a difference,” Clinton said in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital With Al Hunt” that will air this weekend. “I was the senior governor in America. I had been head of any number of national organizations that were related to the major issue of the day, which is how to restore America’s economic strength.”
Clinton was 46 in 1992 when he beat Republican President George H.W. Bush to win the highest U.S. office, the same age that Obama is now. When Clinton, then the Arkansas governor, was first running, “he was initially dismissed as an obscure if colorful outsider, handsome and articulate but, at age 46, too young and inexperienced for the job,” his wife Hillary wrote in her autobiography, “Living History.”
Read the whole story at the link above. President Clinton is entirely correct. When he ran in 1992, he was in his sixth two-year term as Governor of Arkansas. He had also served one term as the state’s Attorney General. That’s fourteen years of administrative experience.
Now, Arkansas is a small state, it is true. But governing it, or even running its Justice Department, provides essential experience in administering and managing a large operation. Serving in a legislature, even the United States Senate, in contrast, does not. Senators manage their staffs, but aren’t even responsible for funding their salaries or the office’s expenses. For some reason, though, all Senators are even more convinced they are qualified to be President than actors think they are qualified to direct.
There is no substitute for hands-on management experience. The United States government is the largest enterprise in the world. It has a budget of roughly $3 trillion and millions of employees. The President administers a operation with revenues larger than the top 20 corporations combined. It’s not the sort of job conducive to on-the-job management training, but so many candidates believe they are entitled to start at the top.
I haven’t often agreed with Bill Clinton over the years, but he’s absolutely right this time.
Now, it would be entirely fair for Obama’s supporters to counter that his three years in the US Senate and eight years in the Illinois State Senate compares to Hillary’s seven years in the US Senate as her sole experience. Realists, however, would point out that through Bill Clinton’s twelve years as Governor in Arkansas and eight years as President in Washington, Hillary was continually sticking her nose into everything. That should count for something, I suppose . . .