Parsing … Hillary on Obama’s Foreign-Policy Cred

“Parsing” is an occasional series in which we dissect the candidates’ words down to the nitpickiest detail. First up, Hillary’s remarks today on Barack Obama’s foreign-policy experience:

Hillary Clinton knows how to craft an insult. On the same day that she releases an ad deploring the “Republican Attack Machine,” she goes after Barack Obama’s claim that living overseas as a child gave him a unique understanding of foreign policy. Quoth Hillary: “Now voters will judge whether living in a foreign country at the age of 10 prepares one to face the big, complex international challenges the next president will face. I think we need a president with more experience than that. … I don’t think this is the time for on the job training on our economy or on foreign policy.”

Let’s pick this apart, shall we? 

Wording: “Now voters will judge …” Effect: Reassures the audience that it’s not Hillary doing the judging. It’s the voters themselves. She’s not attacking anyone; she’s merely pointing out a set of facts that others can interpret as they wish.  

Wording: “… living in a foreign country …”  Effect: Reminds listeners that Obama was not born and raised an American. Does that make him Muslim?

Wording: ” … at the age of 10 …” Effect: Reminds you that Obama is still relatively young. Ties in with portrait of Obama as “naive” and “inexperienced.” From Hillary’s perspective, he might as well still be 10.

Wording: “… big, complex international challenges …” Effect: Juxtaposed with “age of 10,” suggests that Obama is a child in above his head. Doesn’t go into detail about what those challenges are. You wouldn’t understand, and neither would Obama.

Wording: “… on the job training …” Effect: A favorite Hillary phrase. Similar to an attack Mitt Romney leveled at Hillary when he called her an “intern.” Leverages Clinton’s experience in the White House to paint Obama as a newbie. 

Translation: Barack Obama is a stripling from another country who can barely dress himself, let along negotiate complex nuclear disarmament pacts. If he were president, they’d need to hire an official White House babysitter. Plus, he’d be so busy reading the Constitution for the first time (after having it translated), he wouldn’t know how to protect it.