Is Hillary Clinton fit to be president?

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A version of this article appeared in the Midland Daily News, October 15, 2016.

 

Earlier this month I raised the question of Donald Trump’s fitness to be president of the United States. (See Midland Daily News, October 2, 2016 or my website) It is only fair I ask the same question of Hillary Clinton. In Trump’s case, I based my comments on his self-serving use of words, his inability to focus on a subject for more than a few minutes, and his worldview based on power. I concluded that Trump is not fit to be president.

Using the same criteria, Clinton uses and chooses words well in coherent and logical thought. She is able to focus on a subject for longer than a few minutes as her testimony for more than nine hours before a Congressional subcommittee attests, and her worldview is one of inclusion and the common good. Compared to Trump she is eminently fit to be president,

Trustworthiness

A different character trait must be used in discussing Clinton however. Many people think she cannot be trusted. Gov. Chris Christie at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland spoke to the heart of this distrust. Unfortunately, that speech was more bravado than substance. The convention goers were quick to yell “guilty” and “lock her up” but this is totally contrary to our justice system which says a person is innocent until proven guilty. On the other hand, there appears to be an element of secrecy and therefore suspicious dishonesty in keeping with the old saying, “where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”  Let’s take a look at four areas of concern.

Whitewater

The Whitewater Development Corporation was a failed real estate venture by Bill and Hillary Clinton and Jim and Susan McDougal, in the 1970s and 1980s. The McDougals were the owners of the failed Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan. When the investigator of the failed S&L learned that the Clintons were in partnership with the McDougals, the Clintons came under investigation also. The Clintons themselves were never prosecuted after three separate inquiries found insufficient evidence linking them with the criminal conduct of others related to Whitewater. [i]

Wall Street speeches

Clinton gave 91 private talks from April 2013 to March 2015. 14 were delivered “directly to financial-sector interests, including Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman.”   Her fees from these speeches were $3 million of her total $21.7 million for all 91 speeches.

Her critics suggested she was too “close to Wall Street” and that “she had something to hide by not releasing the transcripts of those conversations” [ii] but Clinton has every right to give speeches to whatever group she wishes.

Private email server

While Secretary of State Clinton used her private family email server for official communications, some experts, officials, and members of Congress have contended that her use of private messaging system software and a private server violated State Department protocols and procedures, as well as federal laws and regulations governing recordkeeping.

On July 5, 2016, the FBI stated that Clinton was “extremely careless” in handling her email system but recommended that no charges be filed against her. And none were. [iii]

Clinton in her defense claimed that her immediate predecessors, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, also conducted official business by means of private email, but, as Bill Bloom, a lawyer and retired judge,  wrote, neither “went so far as to set up their own personal Internet systems in their homes, free from government oversight and beyond the reach of the Freedom of Information Act.” [iv]  Here’s another case of “innocent until proven guilty.”

The  Benghazi attack

On September 11, 2012, members of Ansar al-Sharia attacked the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi Libya resulting in the deaths of U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens and others. Critics claim that Secretary of State Hilary Clinton acted improperly in not preventing this attack. After five hearings in the House and two in the Senate, none found “overt wrongdoing.” 

Amy Davidson in an article in the New Yorker about the hearings concluded that “Clinton came across not only as a grownup, as her supporters had hoped, but as the most normal person in the room.”  [v]

Conclusion

Hillary Clinton has been in the public eye for over 30 years. This means that the public has had many opportunities to see, investigate, and judge her performance. The four situations above exemplify that scrutiny. Like the rest of us, who do not live in the public eye, she has made some mistakes, but she was not found guilty of any wrongdoing. I believe the decision to vote or not to vote for Clinton should not be based on the fact she made some mistakes.

With her experience in public service in Arkansas, New York and Washington, she has much to offer as our leader. She has a vision for the country and the world. I concede you may not agree entirely with her vision, nor do I, but Congress will temper that vision. And she will be a far greater president than Trump.

It will be tempting for some not to vote or to vote for a third party candidate but in both cases you are letting others make your decision as to who will be our next president.  I think Clinton is a good choice for president. 

 

 

Comment added October 14, 2016.

 

Many Catholics and others feel they cannot vote for Clinton because of her position on abortion. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops every four years publishes a document about faithful citizenship. In 2015 they called it “Forming conscience for Faithful Citizenship.” In this document they very clearly teach that one cannot support a candidate who favors abortion, stem cell research, euthanasia, or gay marriage, which they call “intrinsically evil”. Yet they add this comment towards the end of the document and I quote:

“35. There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate's unacceptable position even on policies promoting an intrinsically evil act may reasonably decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons. Voting in this way would be permissible only for truly grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamental moral evil.”

 

I believe Catholics and others face such a dilemma this year in the presidential race. Trump’s lewd statements about abusing women sexually and physically make him even more unfit than what I wrote in my column about him.

 



[i] “Whitewater controversy”, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitewater_controversy.

[ii] “Can Hillary Clinton convince voters that she’s honest and trustworthy?”, PBS, June 30, 2016.  http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/can-hillary-clinton-convince-voters-that-shes-honest-and-trustworthy/

[iii] “Hillary Clinton email controversy”, Wikipedia,

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillary_Clinton_email_controversy

[iv] Bill Blum , “Keeping Wall Street Speeches Secret Speaks Volumes About Hillary Clinton” ”The Huffington Post 05/02/2016. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-blum/hillary-clinton-wall-street-speeches_b_9818398.html

[v] Amy Davidson, “The Hillary Hearing”, The New Yorker, November 2, 2016. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/11/02/hillarys-moment-at-the-benghazi-hearing