Friday, March 14, 2008

Hillary Makes Up "Experience"

March 14, 2008, 8:45 p.m., 9:40 p.m.; March 21, 2008, 7:30 a.m.

[Add-item, March 21: An update today on this topic is both balanced and consistent with what I reported earlier. Peter Baker and Karen DeYoung, "Clinton's Experience Is Debated; While Not a Foreign Crisis Player, She Carried U.S. Message," Washington Post, March 21, 2008, p. A6 ("While Clinton's advertisements have boasted that she is best prepared for a 3 a.m. crisis phone call, the schedules contain no evidence that Clinton was at the table during major national security decisions. They do not list her as attending National Security Council meetings or joining briefings in the Situation Room. She did not have a national security clearance. And the documents make clear that at moments of major crisis, Clinton was often busy with her own agenda.")]

Senator Clinton's Claims of Credit for Children's Health Care Challenged

I have written earlier of Hillary Clinton's "lack of qualifications" generally, notwithstanding her very general and unsupported assertions of "35 years of experience" and "you know my record." [Nicholas Johnson, "Hillary's Lack of Qualifications," March 8-12, 2008.] Now it turns out that some of the "experience" she specifically claims may be at best wildly exaggerated, and at worst just flat wrong.

The Boston Globe reports today [March 14] that those who were responsible for SCHIP (children's health care) are irritated by, and factually refuting, Senator Hillary Clinton's campaigning on, and repeatedly taking credit for, the program the White House actually opposed while she was living there. Susan Milligan, "Clinton Role in Health Program Disputed," The Boston Globe, March 14, 2008. (Candidate Clinton's Web site says that, as First Lady, "She was instrumental in designing and championing" the program.)

Rather than summarize or comment about the Globe's story, I'll just provide some brief excerpts and let them speak for themselves.

This is apparently something of a pattern for Senator Hillary Clinton. Following the Globe story are some excerpts from Time magazine's take on two additional examples of her exaggerating her "accomplishments" in Ireland and Kosovo.

# # #

Clinton Role in Health Program Disputed

By Susan Milligan

The Boston Globe

March 14, 2008

WASHINGTON - Hillary Clinton, who has frequently described herself on the campaign trail as playing a pivotal role in forging a children's health insurance plan, had little to do with crafting the landmark legislation or ushering it through Congress, according to several lawmakers, staffers, and healthcare advocates involved in the issue.

In campaign speeches, Clinton describes the State Children's Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP, as an initiative "I helped to start." Addressing Iowa voters in November, Clinton said, "in 1997, I joined forces with members of Congress and we passed the State Children's Health Insurance Program." Clinton regularly cites the number of children in each state who are covered by the program, and mothers of sick children have appeared at Clinton campaign rallies to thank her.

But the Clinton White House, while supportive of the idea of expanding children's health, fought the first SCHIP effort, spearheaded by Senators Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah . . .. And several current and former lawmakers and staff said Hillary Clinton had no role in helping to write the congressional legislation, which grew out of a similar program approved in Massachusetts in 1996.

"The White House wasn't for it. We really roughed them up" in trying to get it approved over the Clinton administration's objections, Hatch said in an interview. "She may have done some advocacy [privately] over at the White House, but I'm not aware of it."

. . . "We all care about children. But does she deserve credit for SCHIP? No . . .."

. . . Hatch, a longtime Kennedy friend, said he didn't want to criticize Clinton, but felt that the record should be set straight about how the SCHIP program was developed. . . .

[P]rivately, some lawmakers and staff members are fuming over what they see as Clinton's exaggeration of her role in developing SCHIP, including her campaign ads claiming she "helped create" the program. The irritation has grown since Nov. 1, when Clinton . . . missed a Senate vote to extend the SCHIP program . . ..

Kennedy said he patterned the SCHIP plan on a similar program Massachusetts had approved in 1996. Kennedy's account was backed up by two Bay State healthcare advocates who met with Kennedy in Boston to discuss the possibility of taking the idea nationwide: Dr. Barry Zuckerman, director of pediatrics at Boston Medical Center, and John McDonough, then a Democratic state legislator and now the executive director of Health Care for All, a healthcare advocacy group.

. . . McDonough, a Democrat who has not endorsed a presidential candidate, also said it was Kennedy who developed the SCHIP idea after that meeting. "I don't recall any signs of Mrs. Clinton's engagement," McDonough said. "[I]t . . . is demonstrably not the case" that she was driving the effort, he said.

After meeting Zuckerman and McDonough, Kennedy sought out Hatch, and the two worked on the bill together, offering it as an amendment to a budget resolution. But President Clinton - much to the surprise and anger of Kennedy - lobbied Democratic lawmakers to oppose the Hatch-Kennedy amendment, the lawmakers and staff members said.

"It was a bipartisan bill. I don't remember the role of the White House," said Representative Henry Waxman, a California Democrat who has not endorsed a candidate in the presidential race and who was the chief Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, which deals with health matters. "It did not originate at the White House."

# # #

Here's what Time magazine has to say about her claims regarding Ireland and Kosovo (in an article that also discusses the SCHIP claims). Karen Tumulty, Michael Duffy and Massimo Calabresi, "Assessing Clinton's 'Experience,'" Time, March 13, 2008:

In her race to win the democratic nomination against a first-term Senator from Illinois, Hillary Clinton has put the criterion of experience front and center. She often references what she says is 35 years of work that qualifies her to run the country. And the most important achievements Clinton cites are the ones she claims from her years as First Lady . . ..

Northern Ireland


On the campaign trail, Clinton has claimed she "helped to bring peace to Northern Ireland" in the 1990s.

. . . Her involvement was more about generating public and private support for peace talks in the months leading up to that agreement.

It's a key distinction. . . .

[S]everal diplomatic sources who worked on the peace talks say that the women's groups were not nearly as pivotal to the process as Hillary's backers maintain. And Lord Trimble of Lisnagarvey, former First Minister of Northern Ireland, told Britain's Daily Telegraph that Clinton was not involved in the process and her claims to have played a direct role were "a wee bit silly."

. . .Jean Kennedy Smith, former ambassador to Ireland, referring to a women's organization in the country [said], "But as far as anything political went, there was nothing as far as I know, nothing to do with negotiations" [noting that] the process was well under way by the time Clinton got involved.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Clinton played a role in hearing the concerns of Irish women left out of the peace process, . . .. But that does not mean she rolled up her sleeves and conducted or led the talks that resulted in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

Macedonia Refugees


"I negotiated open borders to let fleeing refugees into safety from Kosovo," Clinton has asserted when asked to identify an example of her foreign policy experience.

. . . When Clinton arrived in the middle of the situation in that May, diplomats on the ground expected an ineffectual high-profile visit. But . . . Clinton visited refugees in camps on the border and held talks with the Macedonian leadership.

When the Prime Minister complained about American companies terminating textile contracts with local firms, Clinton promised to urge the businesses to change course. . . .

THE BOTTOM LINE: In the case of Macedonia, Clinton engaged in personal diplomacy that brought about change. But securing the return of American business partners is not the same as the opening of borders to thousands of refugees. That accomplishment was a result of broader U.S. and European efforts during the war.

# # #


VC said...

This is from the Associated Press. Note that Ted Kennedy is quoted as giving Hillary some credited before he became and Obama supporter.

October 5, 2007

After her universal health insurance effort was defeated in 1994, Hillary Rodham Clinton began looking for other viable health plans. Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and the Clintons explored expanding health insurance coverage to children who had none. President Bill Clinton announced a plan to expand coverage to as many as 5 million children in his 1997 State of the Union address. Kennedy, meanwhile, introduced the legislation.

But Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, a Republican, said the plan violated the balanced budget deal and refused to back it, prompting the president to call lawmakers to kill the bill. But Hillary Clinton said he would find ways to provide the insurance. The effort was revived, and Bill Clinton signed the bill in 1997.

While Kennedy is viewed as the driving force behind the program, the former First Lady's pressure was seen as crucial. Kennedy said, "The children's health program wouldn't be in existence today if we didn't have Hillary pushing for it.

"She wasn't a legislator ... and she wasn't the president," said Nick Littlefield, an ex-Kennedy aide. "But we relied on her, worked with her and she was pivotal in encouraging the White House to do it."


gwojtowy said...

Ya might want to preruse this little snippet: