SOUTH BEND, Indiana - Well, it took nearly 12 years, but I finally convinced Sen. Hillary Clinton to speak with me on television. Emboldened by Barack Obama's Rev. Wright disaster, the senator is aggressively reaching out to independent voters, many of whom watch 'The Factor.'
After meeting and speaking with her face to face, my assessment is that health care is Clinton's strongest issue and Iran is her weakest. Polls show that most Americans are fed up with exorbitant medical costs and a callous insurance industry. So any presidential candidate who offers relief from this mess will get a hearing. Of course, the cost would be staggering, but she has a well thought out plan. Whether it is possible, I don't know.
However, Clinton stumbles on Iran. Both she and Obama want out of Iraq, but the unintended consequence of that would be a much bolder Iran. Those fanatics will spin a U.S. withdrawal as an 'Islamic' victory. And then, most geo-political experts agree, Iran would attempt to dominate Southern Iraq.
That kind of aggression would likely cause world oil prices to double, causing major chaos in the economic marketplace. When I described that likely outcome to Clinton, she had no specific answer.
The thing about this presidential race is that some vital issues are so complicated they can give you a permanent migraine. Iraq is a mess. The Iraqi government is largely corrupt. But if we fold, Iran causes big trouble. Awful.
Regarding Afghanistan, the vicious Taliban are hiding in plain sight inside Pakistan. But the Pakistani government is afraid of the radical Islamists, so it allows these killers to operate. That means the Taliban has a sanctuary from which to violently destabilize Afghanistan, and there's little the U.S. can do about it. The Pakistanis have made it clear that NATO forces are not welcome to cross into that country.
Back home, oil prices are hurting most Americans. Sens. Clinton and McCain want to suspend the federal gas tax this summer. Fine with me, but the truth is that both parties have sold out the folks on oil. Clinton voted against drilling in ANWR and the expansion of nuclear energy.
And that's pretty much the problem with her and most politicians: They are shortsighted. A closer look at 'universal' health care costs may upset your stomach. California is running a $20 billion deficit, largely due to out-of-control medical costs. Sen. Clinton's home state of New York is $5 billion in the red. Again, health costs are driving the debt train.
So how on earth will Hillary pay for her plan? There aren't enough rich people in America to foot the bill. Canada has sky-high taxes with just 30 million people receiving government health care. The USA has 300 million people. Do the math.
In the end, I enjoyed my conversation with Sen. Clinton, although I believe she thinks I'm a pinhead. If so, at least I'm a fiscally responsible and national security-driven pinhead. Those issues are vital to all of us. No spin.
Veteran TV news anchor and author Bill O'Reilly is a host on Fox News.