The histrionics of the presidential campaign has masked a simple question: Who is qualified? At this point, there is only one candidate who meets this essential requirement: Hillary Clinton.
She is flawed, for sure, dogged by personal and political baggage. Her penchant for secrecy and spin has done her more harm than good. As secretary of state, she made a terribly irresponsible decision to use her own email server, and she wasn’t honest about it when it was revealed.
But she is clearly qualified to be president. The breadth of experience – from White House, to U.S. Senate, to secretary of state – is unrivaled. Her grasp of the issues is impressive. She is not a charismatic leader, but she is tough, focused and cool under pressure. She has a moderate record to run on and her positions are well-known.
That is not the case for Donald Trump, who requires deeper examination.
Conservative Wall Street Journal editorial writer Dorothy Rabinowitz, a frequent Clinton critic, summed it up in a recent column: “Her election alone is what stands between the American nation and the reign of the most unstable, proudly uninformed, psychologically unfit president ever to enter the White House.”
Remember the question about who would be most suited to take a momentous 3 a.m. phone call? Trump would already be up, revenge-tweeting against anyone who got under his skin that day. For obvious reasons, the commander in chief must have greater impulse control.
From puerile feuding, to “birtherism,” to bigotry, Trump’s candidacy draws out the ugly side of America. He seems incapable of accurately discussing any issue, choosing instead to pull the pin on verbal grenades, many of which blow up in his face. His claim that the election is rigged undermines the very task that thousands of candidates in local, state and national elections have undertaken in earnest.
Trump touts his business acumen, but he’s left behind a string of failures, along with unpaid contractors and workers. Governing is not a series of deals backstopped by bankruptcy laws. Trump isn’t any better when it comes to transparency, refusing to release tax returns that might contradict his boasting.
His demagoguery on trade and immigration have damaged the prospects for much-needed progress in these areas. As for foreign policy, Trump has trashed NATO, but is complimentary of an actual threat, Russian leader Vladimir Putin. His boast that he will “get rid of ISIS fast” is ridiculous.
Neither candidate has paid appropriate attention to entitlement reform and the debt. Clinton’s spending plans would increase the debt. Trump’s budget ideas would send it into the stratosphere. Clinton has a history of supporting trade deals, and we suspect she’s playing politics in opposing the Trans Pacific Partnership. Trump is hopeless on the topic.
Some frustrated voters have looked at third-party candidates. Gary Johnson has shown little understanding or interest in foreign affairs. Dr. Jill Stein is not a serious candidate.
Hillary Clinton was not our first choice for president, but now she’s the only choice.
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