LOS ANGELES, July 8, 2015 — Hillary Clinton wants to be president, and her main selling point is her experience. She and her supporters claim that she has been “fighting for” certain causes for her entire life. Her critics insist that she does not have a single notable policy accomplishment.
Let’s put aside those who love and loathe Mrs. Clinton and analyze her record.
When she ran for president in 2008, Clinton repeatedly cited her “35 years of experience.” That claim is a stretch. She was born in late October of 1947. She graduated law school in 1973 at the age of 25, a perfectly normal timetable. When she announced her first quest for the presidency, she had been 35 years out of law school. Her lifetime of experience was merely her time of living as an adult. The questions remain the same.
What was she actually doing and did she succeed at what she did?
Answer those questions and a familiar pattern emerges. Hillary Clinton is praised as a hard-working, intelligent and competent individual; she is also a person who produces average results. For most of her career, she was neither a disaster nor a godsend for her employers. She was never a superstar or a complete failure.
This pattern began with her tenure at the Rose Law firm. Despite being married to the governor of Arkansas, she was not a star in terms of bringing new clients to the firm. She treaded water, bringing in enough retainers to keep her job. Since she was married to a rising political star, there was little pressure on her to become a spectacular success in her own right. She may have resented being seen as a woman who married well, but there is zero evidence to contradict this critique.
She went from being the First Lady of Arkansas to the First Lady of the United States. By the time she left that job in January of 2001, she was a 53-year old woman without any successful professional accomplishments.
She wanted to build a political career of her own, but did not want to gamble on a conservative Arkansas electorate that never warmed to her. She ran for the Senate as a Democrat in liberal New York, a fairly easy endeavor. While her husband had become a liability to his successor Al Gore in much of the country, New York was still friendly territory.
Hillary went straight from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to the United States Senate. She won re-election in 2006, a miserable year for Republicans nationwide. As a senator, she was true to form. She did nothing spectacularly disastrous or remarkably brilliant. She was just there. She again was the bright woman who worked hard without producing any tangible results.
Her supporters insist that there were results. What were they? Her supporters cannot say.
After losing the presidential contest in 2008, she was appointed secretary of State. To say that her tenure was unremarkable would be charitable. Most areas of the world were worse off after she left the post. This is without including Benghazi, which people have every right to include.
So what has Hillary done in over four decades of adulthood? What is the essence of her life? What is the heart and guts of her life’s work?
She did not produce any good or provide any service. She never ran a business, never served in the military, never managed a successful team that completed a meaningful project.
Hillary Clinton attended meetings. She spoke. She listened. She nodded her head. She smiled. She sipped beverages, ate meals and shook hands with people. Her life has been about attending meetings. As much as it offends her supporters to hear this, going to meetings is not an accomplishment.
In fact, it is the exact opposite of an accomplishment.
People in meetings are not getting things done. They are planning, strategizing, brainstorming, conceptualizing and discussing. They are not “doing.”
Ask professionals under deadlines how they feel about meetings. They will respond that they need to get their work done and do not have time to sit in meetings. Meetings are theoretical sessions that deal with how to do the work. They are not the work itself. Lazy employees love meetings because it keeps them away from their desks. They can munch on company sandwiches while the actual work gets delayed. Despite accomplishing nothing, people who can stay awake in meetings and scribble random words can masterfully look busy.
Hillary Clinton met with leaders. Nobody seems to be able to explain how this matters. There is no evidence that any productive or meaningful work came out of these meetings.
Kim Kardashian has meetings to build her brand. Pippa Middleton has meetings to promote her books. They are both socialites, famous for their parents, famous for who they married, famous for their friends, famous just for their fame.
In the age of social media and selfie-sticks, this is what Hillary Clinton has become. She is famous for being famous. She has meetings with very important people. There is no evidence that those meetings have ever done any good for anyone who hasn’t attended them; they have, however, done a lot of good for Hillary Clinton.
Hillary Clinton is by all accounts a smart and talented woman, but her career amounts to an interminable series of meetings, a career about nothing, a George Costanza-worthy career. You don’t need to work when you look busy, and Hillary has mastered the art of looking busy.