So yes, last night was the big 2-0. The 20th Democratic debate of this election. And though there were, shall we say, instant replays of answers and sound bites we've seen before, Liberty and I have ransacked the transcript looking for those two exchanges that made us sit up and say "oh!" Here's mine; Liberty's is coming soon!
Citizen: I'm going to call it the "first lady question that launched a Russert naildown of NAFTA positions." During the "potentially embarrassing videos" portion of the evening, Obama's video showed him criticizing Clinton of claiming a "co-presidency" during her years as first lady. When asked to respond, Obama made me sit up and take note. He said,
I have not in any way said that experience is not relevant, and I don't begrudge her claiming that as experience. What I've said, and what I would continue to maintain, is you can't take credit for all the good things that happened but then, when it comes to issues like NAFTA, you say, well, I — behind the scenes, I was disagreeing. That doesn't work. So you have to, I think, take both responsibility as well as credit.
This idea sparked a little discussion in the comments last night. I think it highlights a prickly position for both, especially as the concept of "experience" is hotly contested. While I think the fact that Barack brought it up at all does give credence to the notion that perhaps first lady doesn't count as experience (despite his actual position), it puts Hillary in a tough position. To see if "first lady" should make Hillary's resume, read more.
Of course she wants to claim her time in the White House — she was arguably one of the most involved first ladies of modern history. But in doing so she is saddled with policy that she really didn't get to shape, like NAFTA. Russert jumped on this opportunity to nail down both on their future plans for the trade agreement, and both finally said they would use the threat of withdrawal as a means to reform. (Though if a threat is labeled as such, I daresay it's no longer a threat.)
So does Hillary's first ladyship count? Are you with Obama, she has to claim it all — or should Hillary be able to give voice to just her opinions from that time?