The yellow-billed oxpecker stands atop the mighty rhinoceros, gobbling ticks and chirping loudly when danger looms. This tiny bird would make a perfect mascot for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential bid. Akin to that creature, the New York Democrat leaves tiny footprints and has spent more than three decades riding aboard her outsized, accomplished husband, William Jefferson Clinton.
And, like the oxpecker, Hillary Clinton is remarkably unprepared for the presidency. Beyond helping to secure post-9/11 recovery funds for Gotham, her legislative achievements are rather slight. Lighter yet is her executive experience, which is measurable in grams.
While Clinton has been an outspoken liberal activist since the 1960s, she never has run a business, a city, a state or a Cabinet department. She was a partner at Little Rock’s Rose Law Firm, but did not administer it. Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families aside, she headed none of the nonprofits whose boards her Web site says she joined.
While she conducted President Clinton’s health-reform task force in 1993, the plan it concocted in secret collapsed in public. This 1,368-page prescription for government medicine quietly vanished, sparing a Democratic Congress the embarrassment of euthanizing it.
Since her 2000 election, Clinton never has chaired a Senate committee. However, she does lead the Senate Superfund and Environmental Health Subcommittee. As its Web site explains, the panel oversees “recycling, federal facilities and interstate waste.”
Clinton has presided over something. She commanded the Wellesley College Republicans in 1965, and then became student-government president.
Despite repeated requests, Clinton’s campaign did not identify the executive experiences that supposedly merit her presidency.
Conversely, Clinton’s Democratic rivals display relevant resumes.
Bill Richardson was elected New Mexico’s governor in 2002. He handles a $13.7 billion budget, guides 20,816 state workers and serves 1.9 million constituents. He was a U.S. House member between 1982 and 1996. He also gained valuable global expertise as U.N. ambassador from 1996 to 1998. Under Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush, Richardson has negotiated nuclear issues with North Korean generals and helped free Americans from Cuba, Iraq and Sudan. As energy secretary from 1998 to 2000, Richardson addressed Arab-oil dependency and nuclear nonproliferation, and maintained America’s atomic arsenal.
First elected in 1972, Delaware’s Joseph Biden chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and also directed it between 2001 and 2003.
Connecticut’s Chris Dodd, elected U.S. representative in 1974 and senator in 1980, chairs the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.
Even far-left eccentric Rep. Dennis Kucinich was Cleveland’s one-term mayor, years before his 1996 House win.
Elected in 2004, former Harvard Law Review President Barack Obama’s credentials are limited. Nonetheless, the Illinois senator is 2008’s “fresh face” — a phrase rarely in the same sentence with Hillary Clinton.
Clinton’s Republican competitors offer considerable executive dexterity:
Rudolph Giuliani was mayor of New York, America’s largest city, with 8 million people. Between 1994 and 2002, he managed budgets as high as $40 billion and as many as 222,836 employees, a payroll surpassed only by Uncle Sam’s and California’s. As U.S. attorney, Giuliani supervised 130 prosecutors and some 200 support staffers between 1983 and 1989. In 2002, he launched Giuliani Partners, a security consultancy that reportedly earned tens of millions in revenues.
Mitt Romney founded Bain Capital, a prosperous enterprise, before becoming Massachusetts’ one-term governor in 2002. His final, $36 billion budget funded 43,979 personnel who aided 6.4 million citizens.
Mike Huckabee was Arkansas governor between 1996 and 2006. His final, $15.6 billion budget financed 29,151 staffers who covered 2.8 million Arkansans.
Arizona Sen. John McCain was a decorated Navy pilot and Vietnam-era POW before his 1982 U.S. House victory. He was elected senator in 1986 and has chaired the committees on commerce and Indian affairs.
To Clinton’s credit, she represented America as first lady in 82 countries, perhaps her most pertinent duty. This may qualify her for secretary of state, a position she could execute with energy and discipline.
However, facing a $2.9 trillion federal budget and 5,120,688 civilian and military employees, Clinton is ill-equipped to become president of the United States, commander in chief of the armed forces and leader of the free world. Her executive experience is lighter than a fistful of feathers.
(Deroy Murdock is a columnist and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University. E-mail him at deroy.murdock(at)gmail.com.)