Monday, February 04, 2008

How Smart is Hillary Clinton, Really?

The conventional wisdom, even among critics of Hillary Clinton, is that she has what everyone calls “an encyclopedic knowledge of policy.”

For the life of me, I can’t tell from listening to her interviews, speeches and debates, what these people are talking about!

When Hillary Clinton talks, I hear someone who so wants to be seen as having extensive knowledge that she answers filibusters every issue with a barrage of often irrelevant facts, stated with such authoritative zeal that she hopes to convince listeners to accept her superior knowledge without question. So far, this tactic has worked! Few members of the media are willing to second guess a woman with a “ten-point-plan,” even when eight of those points sound like complete jibberish!

I’ll cite just a few examples from recent days that have led me to question, despite Hillary’s brainiac reputation, whether she knows what she’s talking about when it comes to policy, leadership, or anything else:

Universal Health Care

Clinton has often criticized Barack Obama for failing to offer what she considers to be “universal health care.” She says he doesn’t intend to mandate that every single person buy the insurance, while he focuses on making it affordable enough that everyone who wants to buy it would be able to do so. Regarding her mandates (my emphasis),
Clinton has not always specified the enforcement measures she would embrace, but when pressed on ABC's "This Week," she said: "I think there are a number of mechanisms" that are possible, including "going after people's wages, automatic enrollment."

Clinton said such measures would apply only to workers who can afford health coverage but refuse to buy it."
So what about those who can’t afford to buy it, such as the homeless or chronically unemployed who have no wages to go after? How are they any different under Hillary’s plan, than those not buying insurance under the plan Obama is proposing? If asked, I’m sure she would reel off a dozen reasons why, each of which would contain serious sounding phrases like “health legacy initiatives” or “innovation agendas” in such rapid fire succession that any breathing person with a pulse would become desperate to change the subject rather than ask a follow up question!

Running the Federal Government

Another area where Clinton has tried to establish her superiority over Obama is her stated approach for running the federal government as president, which came in response to Obama’s comments about inspiring others to help achieve his vision (and his admitted need to have a good secretary):
"I know that we can get on top of this, but it's going to require strong presidential leadership - it's going to require a President who knows from day one you have to run a government and manage the economy," she said. "The buck stops in the Oval Office."
What the hell does this mean? Is she going to be delivering the mail? Conducting tax audits? Will she be handing out checks to stimulate consumer spending around the Christmas shopping season?

I suppose rather than delegating responsibility for the many front-line tasks of the various government agencies under her administration, she’ll be out there supervising them all. At least, I hope she will be prepared to resign if anyone in the federal government, whose work results apparently would stop at her desk, makes a serious mistake (like, say, calling a political opponent a Muslim drug dealer!) Surely she wouldn’t ask someone else to take the blame for responsibility that wasn’t delegated!

I’m sorry, but I can’t buy this “encyclopedic knowledge of policy” thing at all. In fact, I think a more accurate description would be to say this:

Hillary Clinton has a “Wikipedic” knowledge of policy: She sounds authoritative, but half of it is bullshit!

(by the way, the video was included primarily for the section right after the 3 minute mark, where she demonstrates a less than encyclopedic knowledge of humility!)

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