Hillary Clinton. Not Lesser. Not Evil.

July 17, 2016

[Note: This post has been percolating for days. Thanks to RF for noting that he is tired of the lesser of two evils narrative as it relates to Hillary Clinton, which brought the thoughts together.]

Last week the Curator mentioned Understanding Hillary: Why the Clinton America Sees Isn’t the Clinton Colleagues Know, written by Ezra Klein for Vox on July 11. I read the piece with interest, for I have friends who know Hillary Clinton very well. They report on her warmth, kindness, and smarts. But for smarts, these attributes do not appear readily for those of us who only know the public woman.

Mr. Klein focuses on Mrs. Clinton’s skills, and, in particular, her ability to listen. Listening is, in fact, a skill. Hearing comes by us naturally; listening, not so much, and that’s especially true for men. Beyond listening, however, Mr. Klein looks at the skillset which relates to a successful presidency. He relies on Why President Fail and How They Can Succeed Again by Elaine Kamarck—the book is available on July 26—and states: “successful presidential leadership occurs when the president is able to put together and balance three sets of skills: policy, communication, and implementation.” Then, he notes Ms. Kamarck’s reference to the fact that presidential campaigns only test for communications skills.

A complete look at Mrs. Clinton reflects evident policy and implementation skills. This lady really, really knows health care. And foreign policy. And much about many other issues. But she has also demonstrated skill in working with others. You can’t be a very successful attorney—please, trust me on this one—without working really well with others. You can’t shine as a diplomat if everything is about you. And you can’t be a successful United States Senator if you want all of the glory. (On Mrs. Clinton’s career, read Hillary Clinton’s Senate Years Provide Insight into How She Might Govern, by Susan Davis for NPR a few months ago. The qualitative comments from Republicans are telling.)

Senator Bernie Sanders is not part of the mix anymore. But, a few days ago on Facebook I shared Let’s Grow Up, Liberals by Kevin Baker. Mr. Baker expressed concerns about Bernie and the Berners, which prompted this question from an old friend: “When even [Mr. Baker] points out that the party has coalesced more quickly behind HRC than it did in 08 behind BHO, I’m not sure why he still has vapors over this year’s PUMA-lite crowd?”

Mr. Baker is not here, but I’ll answer for myself. The primary on the D side focused totally on policy and methods. Bernie Sanders was to Hillary Clinton’s left, and he was ready to burn down the barn. And that directness resonated with many people. Alas, Mr. Baker sums up Senator Sanders well in these two sentences:

Mr. Sanders has led an admirable life of social activism, and his record of public service is impeccable. But it is impossible for me to imagine that he possesses the temperament or the talents required to be a successful president.

That brings me to Donald J. Trump. He’s unimaginable as President of the United States. Lest we forget all of the stuff which has preceded yesterday, here he is at the Mike Pence introduction, speaking about the apparent coup in Turkey:

So many friends in Turkey. Great people, amazing people. We wish them well. A lot of anguish last night, but hopefully it will all work out.

OK, OK, I’ll address the emails! What a stupid, dumb scandal. Secretary of State follows the same email protocol her predecessors used. She’s careless, and she responds to yet another investigation poorly. (Jeffrey Toobin addresses the issue very well in Hillary Clinton’s Scandal Mistake, written for the New Yorker on July 13.) So what? With anyone else this is a one week story!!!

My friend RF said “Hillary Clinton is a good candidate – my first choice eight years ago – and she is the alternative to evil.” He is so right, for she is a good candidate, and Mr. Trump is a bad man. Singularly incompetent and disinterested, and selfish and crooked … .

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