Are You Experienced?

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On a recently concluded call with reporters, Susan Rice was pushing back vigorously on the Clinton campaign's assertions that she trumps Obama in the national security experience department. Her strong points where when she pointed out that Clinton's claims of experience often seem overblown. Rice referenced the fact that Clinton's surrogates couldn't site any examples of her crisis-management experience, said that Clinton "claims to have negotiated opening the border of Macedonia, but that opening preceeded the opening of that visit by a day," and said that Clinton's "claimed to have played a crucial independent role in the Northern Ireland negotiations, but George MItchell said she was 'not involved directly.'"

I think that's all about right. Rice and the rest of Team Obama is quite a bit less convincing when they try to talk up their own candidate's experience in these domains. They wind up winning this argument since they're not the ones who've been trying to fight the campaign on this issue, but the reality is that like most presidents either Clinton or Obama would be entering office without significant diplomatic or military experience even though these are the most important aspects of the job. I'll take "little experience plus good ideas" over "years of experience have committed me to crazy warmongering" in a heartbeat, but that's the basic shape of things.

There were some more interesting ideas put forth on the call on more interesting topics -- including ideas aimed squarely at John McCain -- but it'll probably take me until tomorrow to get my thoughts together on them.

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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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