Russell Wellen

Experience Is to Hillary as 9/11 Is to Giuliani

Rudolph Giuliani's ritualistic incantations of 9/11 have become a national joke. In truth, his inspirational presence was overshadowed by his failure to prepare the city for a terrorist attack.

Also he failed to upgrade the infamous faulty radios used by first responders, many of whom he infuriated by calling off the search for bodies at Ground Zero just when the volunteers felt they were on the brink of finding more.

Hillary's got her own equivalent of Giuliani's 9/11: her "experience." It's gospel to much of the public but some in the media aren't buying it.

Like Timothy Noah at Slate: "Oh, please."

And Ari Emanuel on Huffington Post: "Give me a break,"

What's the problem? For starters, the amount of experience she claims. "Thirty-five years takes you back to 1973," Noah writes, "half of which Hillary spent in law school, for crying out loud."

Emanuel asks, "And what about [Obama's] time at Harvard Law (where he was the first black president in the history of the Harvard Law Review)? Doesn't count? But your time at Yale Law does?"
Second, how much of that time was spent in government? Hillary's electability derives in large part from what she calls her "firsthand knowledge of what goes on inside a White House."
But, Noah writes, her "chief role [was] that of kibitzer." She "did not hold a security clearance, did not attend meetings of the National Security Council, and was not given a copy of the president's daily intelligence briefing."

Emanuel makes the case that, with Biden, Dodd, and Richardson out of the race, and Kucinich, who practically teethed on politics, marginalized, neither of the leading Democratic candidates has significant government experience.

Conning Condi

In a surprise move, writes Jim Lobe on, "U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has appointed a prominent neoconservative hawk and leading champion of the Iraq war to the post of State Department Counselor." Her right-hand man, Philip Zelikow, who was also executive director of the 9/11 Commission and gained further notoriety when he proclaimed that the US invaded Iraq to protect Israel, resigned. He'll be replaced by Elliot Cohen, an American Enterprise Institute type, who learned at the feet of Paul Wolfowitz.

In fact, writes Lobe, Cohen was "particularly scathing about [the Iraq Study Group's] recommendations for Washington to directly engage Syria and Iran and revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process -- recommendations which Rice herself has explicitly endorsed in the last few weeks."

With Rice spreading her diplomatic wings ever wider -- besides promoting the Syria-Iran talks, she did an end run around Cheney on North Korea -- what gives? Is this just another example of her "one step forward, two steps back" syndrome when it comes to promoting diplomacy over force?

If you'll recall, she helped broker a peace in Lebanon last summer. But not before giving her blessings for the carnage to run its course when she said that a cease-fire "will be a false promise if it returns us to the status quo."

Lobe quotes the New America Foundation's Steven Clemons (who also runs a great blog: The Washington Note): "Rice never takes Cheney head-on and is very careful not to take on people who might antagonize him."

Or as Jim Lobe, when contacted, said of Rice. She "triangulates all the time."

But what about Cohen? He must know Rice is using him as a spoonful of sugar to make the diplomacy go down for Cheney.

Lobe then quotes Chris Nelson, editor of the Washington insider newsletter, The Nelson Report. "'And, if she's really planning to put her foot down on the Israelis, which [Washington] will have to do if it wants to get a real process with the Palestinians then a guy like Cohen up there on the [State Department's] seventh floor who is in on it and can claim influence on the outcome can help.'"

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