THE WORST PROSPECTIVE CANDIDATE as President of the United States has declared, with an announcement by former Secretary of State and New York Senator Hillary Clinton that she would seek the Democratic Party nomination as President; the development should galvanise conservatives and more reasonable figures in Clinton’s own party, for she would be a domestic liability and international menace if ever elected to office.
At the outset — to answer the charge my trenchant opposition to a “President” Hillary Clinton is motivated by opposition to women, which it most certainly isn’t — I should like to simply observe that there are several capable, high profile women on both sides of American politics who would theoretically make very good Presidents, and that anyone whose politics are dictated by gender rather than a rational assessment of the best candidate for office should identify one of the other women in the field of potential contenders, and get behind her instead.
For Hillary Clinton, to be completely blunt, is just about the worst candidate going around for the Presidency, and should she ever be elected to that office the consequences for both the United States and the wider world are likely to be dire.
For someone who has spent decades at, near, or adjacent to the edifices of real power in the United States, Clinton is someone the US public has gotten to know all too well; there can be no doubt hers would be the most recognisable name on the ballot should she win the nomination of her party as President — which she has now announced her intention to seek — but name recognition and suitability for office are two very different notions.
In some respects, it is possible to feel some admiration for Clinton’s stoic determination; after all, this high-profile liberal lawyer (and no intellectual slouch) was forced to play bridesmaid — literally — to her husband Bill through stints as Governor of Arkansas in the 1980s, two terms as President himself, and what seems to have been a virtual lifetime of dealing with her husband’s philandering and infidelity, with a string of affairs and humiliations an unwanted bequest in life from the contemptible specimen to whom she is married.
I don’t propose today to embark on some forensic analysis of Bill Clinton’s tenure as President, although it is safe to assert it was helpful that it ended when it did, and equally helpful that the Democratic Party was moved on from the White House after eight years lest his deputy — who, among other things, “invented the Internet” and forecast polar ice caps would have melted by last year — be elevated to an unmerited and equally unpalatable stint as the US’ Commander-in-Chief.
Clinton is, to coin an idiom only ever deployed to demean its target, a Washington insider; this scion of the Democratic Party establishment, left-leaning social activist and hypocritical champion of the status of women is synonymous to many Americans with the interests of big business, lobby groups, and not concerned with the lot of the “little guy.”
And I say “hypocritical champion” of women because there is ample evidence Clinton is nothing of the kind; in recent weeks the US has been swept by rumours — neither denied nor, tellingly, responded to by the Clintons, even through recourse to legal proceedings — that Clinton was the enforcer who bullied and harassed and heavied husband’s conquests to keep them from going public; affairs and even rapes are said to have been hushed up and their victims bought off, intimidated, or thuggishly ground into submission.
Clinton has form for this, as we saw last June, as a report emerged in the US press of her boasting and laughing about getting a child rapist acquitted on a legal technicality; this is not conduct becoming of a putative President, and it is to be hoped Clinton’s Republican adversaries make great use of this — and other items from Clinton’s cavalier and wilful past — to explode the myth that she is in any way the candidate for women and families.
But her problems do not stop there.
Her age, for one thing, is a liability that can and should be turned against her; Democrats have form for making merry over the age of some of the candidates their opponents have run for the Presidency (one of the best Presidents in Ronald Reagan not least) and she deserves to be fair game as a 69-year-old by the time Americans vote in November next year.
As I said last year of the Democrats’ age-based crusade against Reagan, also 69 when first elected:
At 69 by the time the election is held in 2016, Clinton will be the same age Ronald Reagan was when he won in 1980, and despite the spectacular successes of the Reagan era, Democrats have spent the 30+ years since lampooning him as a senile gerontocrat whose administration was run exclusively by his wife and his advisers.
What compounds this consideration is the story — again, never denied by the Clintons — that Hillary some years ago suffered a stroke, and whatever recovery might have been made from that event (and be it one of life’s great injustices or otherwise), anyone who has suffered a stroke is literally not fit to serve in the most powerful office in the world with thousands of nuclear weapons at their disposal and on hair-trigger alert.
Foreign policy is going to be important on the watch of the next President, and incumbent Barack Obama — the worst President since at least the thoroughly useless Jimmy Carter, if not ever — has spent the past six and a half years inflaming global hotspots and imperilling the security of the United States and its allies, a track record neatly if sarcastically itemised in Brisbane’s Courier Mail this morning.
As someone who served for four years as one of the most senior members of the Obama Cabinet and who is deeply enmeshed in Democratic Party governance whenever it holds power, Clinton is as culpable in the representative sense for these failings as Obama is, and as President would face the responsibility of dealing with them.
Yet Americans can have no faith she is equipped or willing to do so, and the evidence of this can be found in the track record of her philandering husband, whose own administration (often said to in fact be influenced and run by Hillary) consistently kicked foreign policy challenges down the road to be dealt with by someone else.
It actually matters who wins this election in the US, with a resurgent and bellicose Russia openly threatening nuclear retaliation if held to account for its outrages, the Middle East seemingly erupting in a firestorm with the tacit imprimatur of Obama, and other hotspots around the world seemingly ignored.
Obama has overseen both the world becoming more dangerous and a diminishing of US power, prestige and reach. His country — and the world — cannot afford another of his ilk to follow him, yet like peas in a pod, Hillary would little different to Obama in his mishandling of international affairs, and America’s role in them.
Like most Democrats, there are few signs that Hillary Clinton has any inclination to address the ballooning US deficit and/or national debt, let alone the ideas and/or the backbone with which to do so; as it is, total US debt has doubled during the tenure of the Obama administration, to $US 13 trillion, and with an agenda heavy on left-leaning social spending and expanding public addiction to welfare, Clinton does not present as a responsible or capable economic stewardess.
Clearly, this is no subject that can be summarily dealt with in a single article, and the process for electing a replacement for Obama in a little over 18 months’ time is only now sputtering slowly into motion; we will follow the election races on both the Republican and Democratic sides as they unfold.
But although unsurprising, the formalisation of a Clinton candidacy is the last thing the United States needs, and should be regarded as an invitation to better candidates on the Democratic side of the equation to do what Obama himself did the last time Hillary was said to be a shoo-in for their party’s nomination and to oppose, out-campaign and defeat her.
And I reiterate that at this early stage of proceedings, my own support lies with a hypothetical Republican ticket led by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker as his running mate: we will see how that dynamic plays out.
But a “President” Hillary Clinton?
Should it ever come to pass, then God help us all, and God help the United States of America; this veteran, inveterate Washington hack is just about the worst prospective candidate either side of US politics could dredge up to inflict on an unsuspecting public.
It is to be hoped, in good time, that even if she emerges with her party’s nomination, her only reward for the endeavour will be a humiliating concession speech — ideally to Bush — which would be neither more nor less than she deserved but which, by virtue of the fact they would have enforced its delivery in the first place, be exactly what the citizens of the US most needed after eight years of mismanagement and neglect by Obama that has made her country and the world around it a far, far more dangerous and less secure place.