Her problems are in a normal range. His are off the charts. This is not a close call.
OCT 30, 2016
Get a grip, America.
FBI Director James Comey has no idea what is contained in the new emails that agents will be examining in connection with the Hillary Clinton email investigation. Odds are the FBI will no more uncover an indictable offense than it did in July. Whatever happens, the choice on Nov. 8 remains simple and stark.
On the one hand, we have a candidate with years of service as first lady, senator, and secretary of state. She is a centrist Democrat who knows public policy cold. Her meticulous preparation was on display in the three debates, all of which she won.
Sure, like all politicians, Hillary Clinton sometimes stretches the truth. (No, she wasn’t under sniper fire in Bosnia.) Sure, like all politicians, she adjusts some positions based on shifting public sentiments. She was for the Trans-Pacific Partnership before she was against it. She was, at the least, “extremely careless” with her emails, as Comey said in July. Her ties to the Clinton Foundation lead many to wonder whether donors were buying access.
These would be serious handicaps if Clinton were running against Jeb Bush or John Kasich. But she’s not. She’s running against Donald Trump. To paraphrase P.J. O’Rourke, Clinton’s problems are within the normal parameters. Trump’s are off the charts.
Think she has ethics issues? Trump faces a civil trial for fraud over Trump University. He has denounced illegal immigration while employing illegal immigrants to build his buildings. He claimed to have donated $102 million to charity without giving a penny of his own money. He is a pathological liar who keeps repeating falsehoods — such as his claim to have opposed the Iraq War — long after they have been debunked. According to Politico, he lies an average of once every three minutes and 15 seconds.
One of the few times he told the truth was when he bragged about groping women against their will. A dozen women have come forward to accuse him of sexual assault. Another one claims he raped her when she was 13; that trial begins Dec. 16. This is not “locker room” talk. If true, these are criminal acts far more serious than anything in Clinton’s emails.
What Trump is doing to our democracy is also a serious offense. He vows to lock up his political opponent, calls the election “rigged” without evidence, and won’t promise to respect the result if he loses. This is an unprecedented and disqualifying assault on our political system.
Another disqualification: Trump is the first candidate in decades not to release his tax returns. We know he hasn’t paid income tax since 1995, when he lost $916 million, contradicting his claims to be a boffo businessman, but we don’t know what other ethical landmines are buried in his records. Does he have financial as well as sentimental ties to Vladimir Putin? No way to know.
We do know Trump is intolerant of dissent. He threatened lawsuits against his accusers and libel suits against newspapers that have reported their allegations. He wants to loosen libel laws to facilitate such suits. He has incited violence at his rallies. He is, in short, a budding authoritarian who should never be given control of the FBI and IRS.
Trump lacks a presidential temperament. He gets flustered in debates. Imagine how he’d perform in a crisis. Trump is also almost completely ignorant of public policy. He says that U.S. and Iraqi forces blundered by not launching a surprise attack on Mosul, yet can’t explain how it’s possible to hide 30,000 troops in flat terrain.
When Trump speaks, he offends. He insulted a Gold Star family, called U.S. troops thieves, and said that John McCain isn’t a hero. He mocked a disabled reporter. He said that Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who was born in Indiana, isn’t fit to preside over his fraud trial cause because he’s “Mexican.” He spent years pushing offensive claims that Barack Obama, the first African-American president, wasn’t born in America. He has run the most blatantly racist campaign since George Wallace.
It’s almost an afterthought, but Trump does have policy proposals — and they would be ruinous if implemented. He thinks that NATO, the most successful alliance in history, is obsolete. He threatens to pull troops out of South Korea and Japan, and he doesn’t care whether this leads to nuclear proliferation. He wants to order U.S. troops to commit war crimes by killing relatives of terrorists and torturing terrorist suspects. He vows to launch trade wars that will cost millions of jobs.
The email flap doesn’t change the fact that Clinton is sane and safe, while Trump is the least qualified, most dangerous presidential candidate in U.S. history. This should not be a close call, America.