I think Hillary Clinton is definitely qualified to be commander-in-chief of the US military. In fact, I think she’d make a strong one. She had a successful legal career. She participated in key decisions during the Clinton administration. And she’s beginning her second term in the US senate. Her husband was qualified to be commander-in-chief too — at 46 and having spent his whole political career in Little Rock.
But just what on earth is Hillary Clinton talking about when she says she’s crossed the “commander in chief threshold” which John McCain has also crossed but Barack Obama hasn’t?
There are two ways of looking at what’s required for this aspect of the president’s job. One school of thought has it that a potential president needn’t be an expert on military affairs or foreign relations any more than he or she needs to be an experts in economics. They need to be informed and knowledgeable. But what’s most needed is temperament, maturity and judgment. Detailed expertise can come from advisors.
Others think it’s precisely the expertise that’s needed. So someone like a Joe Biden is the kind of person you want — someone who’s deeply schooled in every aspect of foreign relations and has been at it for literally decades. John McCain has some of that and he was also career military which gives him, at least arguably, some special grasp of the military components of the job. Bill Richardson had at least some cred on that scale based on his time in the Congress, UN Ambassador and general ad hoc rogue regime diplomacy.
Hillary Clinton seems to think she’s a strong contender in this latter category. But that’s a joke. She’s starting her second term in the US senate, where, yes, she serves on the Armed Services committee. Beside that she’s never held elective office and she has little executive experience. I think she can argue that she’d make and would make a strong commander-in-chief. But she’s pushing a metric by which she’s little distinguishable from Barack Obama. I’m honestly surprised she’s not drawing chuckles on this one.
A lot of people are seeing red that Hillary’s so aggressively pushing the Republican nominee’s credentials to be president. And I can see their point. But I’m more surprised that she’s pushing an argument she doesn’t need to make and frankly can’t make credibly.