Clinton vs. Trump

Let me start out by saying that I don’t have an ideological dog in the race for who will become our next president. Exhibit A is that I was a strong McCain supporter in 2000 and a rabid Rand Paul backer this year. But unlike so many people who argue about politics today, my first love is my country. Religion and political parties take a back seat to my patriotism. I also have enough wisdom that age can bring to know that no matter how passionate my support or dislike of a candidate, law, or political movement is, I could be wrong. I have been completely mistaken before, and I’m humble enough to know it could happen again.

With that disclaimer out of the way, at this point, Clinton and Trump are the most likely nominees for president in 2016. Clinton for sure, and while Trump is still a maybe, a successful bid to stop him will damage the Republican Party so badly that it won’t matter in the general election. This is especially true if a brokered convention chooses Ted Cruz. Cruz scares the hell out of me, but that’s the subject for another column. Unlike many people, I am not worried about a Trump presidency. It’s true that Trump spouts a lot of fascist rhetoric. I am a firm believer in the idea that when someone shows you who they really are, believe them. But based on his history of fluid opinions, I think it is all blue collar theater to get elected. I trust the Constitution and its defenders enough to think they would prevent him from significantly altering the Republic. I think Trump would be more of a pragmatist in the mold of Ronald Reagan rather than a loose cannon like Mussolini. Ultimately, though, it does not really matter what kind of president he would be since the Republican Party and its base will never pull together enough to get him elected. If they couldn’t do it for the milquetoast Romney, there’s no way they would do it for the bombastic Trump, the “Anybody but Hillary” speech be damned.

Therefore, I have become convinced that Hillary will be our next president. Bernie won’t go quietly, but that just makes Hillary tougher. Yes, the Republicans hate her. But the serious power brokers are more afraid of Trump because they can’t control him. Obviously, many people have issues with Clinton’s politics. But of greater importance, I think, is that she will be a more effective President than Obama has been. Whether that will be good or bad is going to be the subject of much discourse in the future. I know there are those who think Clinton is guilty of crimes that should disqualify her. But I disagree, and so far, the legal system is on my side of this issue. It’s sort of like the “Birther” thing with Obama. It’s pragmatically a dead end, so I won’t waste my time on it. What all of the legal inquiries (Benghazi, emails, etc) have shown is that Hillary Clinton is as thick-skinned and politically astute as her husband.

It’s her toughness that impresses me on a personal level. Based strictly on her resume, she is the most qualified of the remaining candidates. Between the governor’s office and the White House, she has the domestic political experience. Having been a Senator gives her the governmental skills, and Secretary of State makes her the foreign policy expert. In each of her governmental roles, from losing and regaining the governor’s office in Arkansas to the current email hearings, Hillary has shown herself stronger than any of her opponents. Borrowing from a phrase once said of Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko, I think Hillary could sit on a block of ice until hell freezes without ever moving.

In a divided government like we have, such toughness and mastery of the intricacies of power are needed to get things done. Obama never figured it out. He seemed to think that a rational argument was all that was necessary to get Congress to act. Reagan and Bill Clinton had the political skills to force bipartisan action, and Hillary has demonstrated that she does as well. For example, let’s take Mitch McConnell’s statement in 2010 that his only job was to make Obama a one term president. Imagine him making the same remark about Hillary. What would happen next is that the Senator from Kentucky would receive a secret memo outlining the economic effects of a relocation of 90% of the Army troops stationed in Ft. Campbell, Kentucky to Colorado, California, or some other Clinton-friendly state. Then, watch how fast his opposition to her would crumble. Every politician in Washington has military and federal dollars to protect in order to stay in office.

If that seems far-fetched, then you are unfamiliar with how Bill personally humiliated and undermined Newt Gingrich on Air Force One. The Clintons know how to operate the levers of power in ways the junior Senator from Illinois discovered much too late in his presidency. And a Clinton victory will be a “twofer” just like it was in 1992. Such expertise is not to be taken lightly. Of course most people will focus on her being the first woman president just like the fixation during the Obama presidency was race. This is a major mistake for anyone interested in the political future of our country. Hillary is by far the toughest and most experienced candidate for President in 2016. As such, I think she might become the embodiment of the saying, “Sometimes the best man for the job is a woman.” For better or for worse, Hillary, like Obama, is poised to make history.