I wrote a piece last week on Donald Trump so it’s only fair that I write a piece this week on Hillary Clinton, right?
It should be noted that an hour or so before I began writing this article, the FBI announced that it has discovered a bunch of new emails that it considers may be relevant to the previously closed investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server. Consequently, the FBI is going to review these emails to see if any classified information is included and whether the emails appear relevant to the enquiries they’ve made previously.
This is all fair enough. Clinton has admitted publicly that her use of a private server was an error of judgement. The FBI has investigated and said that the practice was extremely careless but that no charges would be brought against anyone. It’s right and fair that they look at this new content.
Clinton says that she wants the voting public to see these emails as soon as possible, that a bomb like this should not be dropped on the public just 11 days before an election without more information. I think she has a fair point. I think if this issue had Donald Trump at the core instead of Hillary Clinton, the cries about a rigged system would be deafening and the pitchforks would finally come out of the shed.
Donald Trump’s reaction to this news sums up The Clinton Situation quite succinctly, I think. At his rally in New Hampshire only minutes after the news came through, he said the following, as quoted in the New York Times:
“Hillary Clinton’s corruption is on a scale we have never seen before. We must not let her take her criminal scheme into the Oval Office.”
After deriding the F.B.I. for weeks as inept and corrupt, Mr. Trump went on to praise the law enforcement agency.
“I have great respect for the fact that the F.B.I. and the D.O.J. are now willing to have the courage to right the horrible mistake that they made,” Mr. Trump said. “This was a grave miscarriage of justice that the American people fully understand. It is everybody’s hope that it is about to be corrected.”
The nutshell, as per the mind of the right:
Clinton is guilty. Anybody who says otherwise, regardless of who they are and whether they should be worthy of respect or not, is inept and corrupt (unless they eventually agree with us, then they’re OK).
The Clintons are a massive target. They’ve been involved in public life in one way or another since Bill Clinton took over the job of Arkansas Attorney General in the late 1970s. When you’ve been involved in politics for that long, you make a lot of contacts. And when you’ve been successful in politics for that long – and despite their controversies, they have been successful – you make a LOT of enemies.
Those enemies are now lining up, foaming at the mouth. Everyone wants to be The Man who Brought Down The Clintons. It’s got to the point now where nobody’s crossing lines of decency or morality anymore because those lines have been erased.
There is no moral line in America’s public discourse right now. People have been offered $5,000 to interrupt Clinton rallies shouting that Bill Clinton is a rapist. You’d be forgiven for thinking that that is an extremist position and there’s no way someone making an offer like that could get close to the next President. But no.
The guy making the offer was granted an interview with Trump during the primary season and Trump has spouted some of his ‘globalist’ conspiracy theories at times during the campaign.
This is the depth to which people seem happy to drag what is supposed to be the highest office in the United States, one of the most responsible positions in the world. All in the name of bringing Hillary Clinton down. The political hucksters of the right want her head on their wall and there are no bridges-too-far in this quest.
What do I think of Hillary Clinton?
I think there are only two people in this election who can rise to the office of the president – Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
I also think that’s a bit sad, but that’s the way it is.
I think Hillary Clinton is – by a long margin – the most experienced, the most suitable and the most qualified out of those two candidates.
Hillary Clinton has seen the job up close as First Lady. She’s seen the job up close as Secretary of State. She’s a policy expert with plenty of experience in the way Washington works. And make no mistake, Washington is still going to work exactly the same way regardless of who wins.
Hillary Clinton is stable. She is tough. She is smart. She uses proper sentence structure and speaks beyond a grade 3 level. Sorry, that was petty of me, wasn’t it?
Hillary Clinton has had consistent positions on all the issues throughout her campaign. Yes, she’s moved to the left a little in response to the success of Bernie Sanders (with Elizabeth Warren lurking, at stage left) but that’s what’s called political pragmatism. More on that, later.
Hillary Clinton has been subject to more scrutiny than any other candidate in political history. That scrutiny is not confined to this campaign. It’s dogged her for most of her adult life. Whitewater, cattle trading, Troopergate, Bill’s indiscretions, paid speeches, Benghazi, the Clinton Foundation, and now her private email server. No candidate has had his or her dirty laundry exposed as completely or as often as Hillary Clinton. Not even her husband.
And yet she just keeps on getting cleared, not always un-bruised but always cleared, and keeps on working.
I don’t necessarily think that Hillary Clinton is the best America could do. I think Bernie Sanders would have beaten Donald Trump in a landslide because he has none of the Achilles heels that continue to dog Hillary and he would have mobilised the youth vote in a massive way.
But Hillary Clinton is the Democratic candidate, right or wrong. And she’s way more qualified, competent and temperamentally fit for the job than Donald Trump, who is the worst candidate of my lifetime and an embarrassment to his adopted party.
Why don’t people like Hillary Clinton?
I hate to say this, but I think a lot of it is down to a combination of personality and biology. A lot of women don’t like her because she’s of an age when women were supposed to be stay-at-home mothers, and she wasn’t a quiet little stay-at-home mother.
She’s not seen by many as being a warm person. That’s an interesting observation from my point of view, because it feeds into the biological argument.
Being ‘warm’ is not a criterion that would be a decider for many male politicians, if any at all. Some male politicians get a definite advantage from being especially charming. Bill Clinton comes to mind. But being ‘warm’ is not usually a thing for male politicians. If they’re hard-nosed and determined, they’re just being hard-nosed and determined, a desireable quality in a political representative.
The other side of the biological argument is nothing more complex than plain old misogyny. There are some people on the conservative end of the spectrum who think that Hillary Clinton is unfit for office simply because she has a vagina. Most of them, like this guy, have penises. According to these types, people who have vaginas can only have authority over other people with vaginas, not over people with penises.
If you felt put off by my use of the words penis and vagina just then, there’s a chance you might be one of those people. And if you’re one of those people, how you can offer even tacit support for a guy who brags about grabbing women “by the pussy” beggars belief. But I digress.
I have a feeling there are more people out there who think like this than anyone in America cares to admit. They hate Hillary because she’s a Clinton. And they hate her even more because she’s a woman who might become President.
Then there are the ‘scandals’.
Forget the old stuff. That was Bill’s baggage and despite what Donald thinks, Bill’s not running for office.
Actually, let’s bring up one of the old things because the right made it part of the demonisation of Hillary Clinton – her supposed treatment of women Bill Clinton had been involved with.
I find it astounding that the right brings this up. Even if Hillary Clinton did characterise these women poorly after they were involved with her husband, what do people reasonably expect that she would do in that situation? Invite them over for tea? Hillary was one of the victims of Bill’s indiscretions and yet the right makes her out as the villain. Again, it’s plain, old-fashioned misogyny at play. Blame the woman, even if the pain is happening to her.
To the more recent ‘scandals’, then…..
The private email server – dealt with at the top of this article. The investigation was ‘closed’ but the FBI has just announced that they’ve found new emails on the device of one of Clinton’s top advisers. These emails were discovered while the FBI were looking into an unrelated matter. They don’t know if the emails will be relevant at all, but they’ve owned up to finding them and they’re going to look at them. Hopefully they shed more light on them soon, lest they destabilise what will already be a rocky start to a new Presidency. Yes, I still think Hillary will win. The investigation has not be re-opened, technically. They’re assessing these emails for relevance.
Benghazi – Hillary Clinton is basically held out by the right to be personally liable for both the terrorist attack itself and the way the whole Obama administration handled it. Subsequent investigations, including 11 straight hours of questioning earlier this year, found no grounds for action against Clinton.
Still, if you throw enough mud, some of it begins to stick. That’s exactly what the Republican candidates did during the primaries. Leave questions open, even if they’ve been asked and answered. Nobody bothers to check anymore, right?
The Clinton Foundation – The insinuations about the Clinton Foundation centre around ‘pay-to-play’.
Prior to this US election campaign, the Clinton Foundation was one of the world’s most respected private charities. It has an ‘A’ rating from Charity Watch. It has a ‘Platinum’ rating from Guidestar. It spends approximately 88% of the money it raises on its charitable work, which is a very high percentage compared to similar institutions. It costs the Clinton Foundation just $2 to reel in a $100 donation. I’ve read reports of Australian charities having to spend up to $40 to attract similar donations. It’s fair to say, then, that the Clinton Foundation is very efficient.
The Clinton Foundation is not only efficient, it’s effective, too.
The Clintons were pioneers in lobbying for AIDS treatment effectiveness and the Clinton Foundation has lowered the price of AIDS treatment by up to 90% for over 11.5 million people in poor countries.
Read that again: the Clinton Foundation has lowered the price of AIDS treatment by up to 90% for over 11.5 million people. That’s staggering.
Donald Trump’s foundation – which he hasn’t actually contributed to himself in nearly 10 years – bought a six-foot high portrait of Donald Trump. And it settled a lawsuit for his business. Damn. There I go again.
Back to the Clintons…. as well as saving people’s lives from lack of AIDS medication, the Clinton Foundation has a lot of health and wellness programs around the world, including school programs in every US state. It’s a charitable behemoth and again, prior to the smearing it’s received during this election campaign, it would have gone down as one of the best philanthropic undertakings in modern times.
The pay-to-play accusations are just that – accusations. Political enemies of the Clintons suggest that countries or interest groups that wanted favourable treatment while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State gave donations to the foundation to grease the tracks.
It’s a reasonable premise but completely unsupported by actual evidence.
The Clinton Foundation is noted by charity watchdogs for filing all of its reports, accounts, etc, in a timely and transparent manner. But when Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State she gave undertakings to provide extra reporting, over and above that which was legally required, in order to protect the reputation of the foundation. This reporting related to lists of donors, etc. The allegation is that the Clinton Foundation did not disclose these extra reports in full.
There’s your smoke.
The fire has come in the form of Donald Trump and the right calling the Clinton Foundation – which is still ‘A’ and ‘Platinum’ rated – a morally and actually corrupt institution.
The Clinton Foundation has been criticised, for example, for taking donations from Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has a shocking human rights record, especially as pertains to the treatment of women. Should the Clinton Foundation accept money from Saudi Arabia? I don’t know about you, but I think $25 million dollars is better spent helping thousands of young, disadvantaged girls get an education than it is buying another fleet of Rolls Royces for a Saudi prince.
The Clinton Foundation, on balance, has been a massive force for good in the world. Yes, there should be steps taken to ensure its independence and the proper use of funds raised. You expect that from all charitable institutions.
But this is a massive, massive beat-up. It’s the target on the Clintons’ back writ large.
To quote The Donald……. Give. Me. A. Break.
Politicians the world over give paid speeches when they retire. It’s a fact. And when you’re a couple with the experience, the war stories and the connections that the Clintons have, there’s going to be plenty of demand. And those pant-suits are expensive!
The Clintons are far from being the first to do it and they will definitely not be the last. Obama’s going to make millions per year from this – and so he should. Just do it, and use it, the right way, Barack.
Ronald Reagan got an estimated $2 million – in 1989 dollars – for a series of speeches and meetings with business leaders in Japan in the first year after his presidency.
George W Bush has made around 200 speeches in the last eight years, at between $100,000 and $175,000 a throw.
Clinton-haterz cite the content of her speeches as the problem, so let’s look at that.
Hillary Clinton wants ‘open borders’…. is a claim touted by Trump at his rallies. He says that she wants to let people just pour in. Politifact dissected this premise and rated it as Mostly False:
Although she wants to make it easier for some undocumented immigrants to stay here, she has repeatedly said she supports border security, so Trump is exaggerating when he says she wants open borders.
In a brief speech excerpt from 2013, she called for “a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders, some time in the future with energy that is as green and sustainable.” Clinton has said she was talking about clean energy, but we can’t fully evaluate her remarks to a bank because we don’t have the full speech.
We rate this statement Mostly False.
Hillary Clinton is too cosy with Wall St and wants to let it regulate itself……. err, no.
Hillary Clinton wants to get people with Wall St experience and get them on board to help draft regulations that will affect Wall St. Sure. That’s normal. That’s smart. You get people with industry experience who are also politically sympathetic to come in and help govern the industry. They know it best.
At a securities law firm in September 2014, Clinton said that as a senator, she had “worked with so many talented principled people who made their living in finance” and “did all I could to make sure they continued to prosper.” But she added that she supported reforms to the industry too, saying she had long called for “closing the carried interest loophole,” “addressing skyrocketing CEO pay,” and “regulating derivatives and overcomplex financial products.”
Finally, Clinton said at an October 2013 Goldman Sachs symposium that she’d likely turn to the financial industry for regulatory advice, because they know the industry best:
“There’s nothing magic about regulations, too much is bad, too little is bad. How do you get to the golden key, how do we figure out what works? And the people that know the industry better than anybody are the people who work in the industry.”
It’s sound practice and it’s been done for decades. You don’t ask your local florist for financial advice. You go to an expert. It’s the same with government – you get industry experts in and mix them with legislators to get the right balance. It’s balance that’s the key.
Hillary Clinton has private and public positions on things….. yes, she does. And I bet most political operatives do, to some degree, as well. It’s called pragmatism.
Politics is the art of the possible. It’s played out in a field full of compromises made in the name of actually getting something done instead of nothing. Clinton’s explanation citing Abraham Lincoln during the second debate was poorly spelt out and stumbling, but essentially correct.
People compromise all the time. Marriages are built around it. Businesses are built around it. It’s the measure we have to take sometimes in order to make progress.
In meetings that precede such progress, opening gambits will be made that might be contrary to the final position. And we have to allow those opening gambits because the process of discussion and negotiation around those points is the starting point for a decision eventually being made.
It’s a matter of the idealist vs the pragmatist.
I guess you could call me a Clinton pragmatist.
My private thoughts are that I don’t warm to her and I think she’s quite flawed. But I also recognise that she’s done a lot of good in her public life and she’s far more qualified for the job.
I think her judgement in the last 4 weeks of this campaign has been terrible. She had Donald Trump dead to rights after three debates that made him look like the bad-tempered, ill-considered imp that he is – and she took her foot off his neck. She counted on Donald being Donald when she should have been reinforcing again and again how morally bankrupt and inexperienced he is.
Where has the pressure been on his tax returns? We learned from just three pieces of paper that he’d lost nearly a billion dollars in one year, enough to realistically not pay any federal taxes for nearly 20 years. Imagine what we could learn from proper disclosure. There’s been no pressure on that issue at all. That’s poor judgement from the Hillary campaign, and it’s not the only example.
But still, when you’ve got these two candidates and you want to put one of them in charge of the Oval Office, with all that that entails…… I would select Hillary Clinton in a heartbeat.
She has experience. She’s got things done. She’s a policy wonk who actually has proper policies and can tell you about them. She’s tougher than leather and has been the subject of more scrutiny than anyone running for president, ever. She has had a target the size of Texas on her back for decades and she’s been scrutinsed in much more detail than men in equivalent positions.
And yet she’s still standing.
If the alternative were someone like John Kasich or even Marco Rubio, I think it’d be a much tougher contest for her.
But if the alternative is Donald Trump, then I’m With Her.