Hillary Clinton’s political opponents are utterly frustrated. She remains the strongest Democratic presidential candidate and likely nominee, despite endless revelations about her covert network server, her missing emails, allegations of influence peddling, unanswered questions about the Benghazi massacre, and her obstinate refusal to address those and other issues.
About 45 percent of voters, however, remain firmly committed to Clinton, dismissing all those concerns as irrelevant. They’re inspired by her rise to power, but aren’t interested in how it came about. They cite her experience and equate it to accomplishments. They see her tenacity, and call it strength.
Leadership requires more than just resilience. Political ideology aside, throughout her public life, Hillary Clinton has proven herself to be woefully deficient in the qualities that define leadership, the qualities we need in a President.
She calls herself a champion. But don’t champions have to stand for something? Hillary has spent her political career adjusting her core values to reflect public opinion.
In 2002, shortly after the 9-11 attacks, the entire country, including Hillary Clinton, stood with President Bush. In October of that year she, like so many other future finger-pointers, supported the Iraq war, announcing, "In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program...if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons.”
But in 2007, as support for the war waned, Hillary proclaimed, “… it is time to reverse the failed policies of President Bush and to end this war as soon as possible.” Now she excuses her earlier hawkish position as a simple mistake.
Regarding gay marriage, she said in the year 2000, “Marriage has got historic, religious and moral content that goes back to the beginning of time, and I think a marriage is, as a marriage has always been, between a man and a woman.” That’s when she was running for the U.S. Senate, and most Americans rejected same-sex marriage.
As the polls shifted, so did Hillary’s core beliefs. In 2013, she announced, “L.G.B.T. Americans…are full and equal citizens and deserve the rights of citizenship. That includes marriage. That’s why I support marriage for lesbian and gay couples.”
In 2003 Hillary’s position on illegal immigration was crystal clear. She said during a radio interview, “…I am, you know, adamantly against illegal immigrants.” Now, as a presidential candidate, Hillary is portraying herself as an advocate for illegal immigrants, even promising to use her own Executive Orders to provide them a pathway to citizenship.
As First Lady, she trumpeted her husband’s aggressive crime control bill, proposing more than 100,000 new police officers on the street. Today she is calling for “an end to the era of mass incarceration.” She’s reversed herself on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which she now opposes. As a senator, she voted against ethanol 17 times, but during a 2007 visit to Iowa, she signaled her strong support of corn ethanol. Late last year, during a rally in Boston, she had an Elizabeth Warren moment, proclaiming, "…don’t let anybody tell you, that, you know, it's corporations and businesses that create jobs.” Maybe she was just caught up in the moment, or perhaps she accidentally read Warren’s speech. A few days later, Clinton reversed herself, claiming that she had misspoken in Boston, and acknowledged that, “Our economy grows when businesses and entrepreneurs create good-paying jobs here in America…”
Some would point to other politicians who changed positions for political expediency. But Hillary is in a class of her own. It is hard to find a single important position that Hillary hasn’t readjusted for political advantage. Even her trademark cause, women’s issues, is exposed as a farce, when we consider those substantial contributions to her foundation from Saudi Arabia and other countries known for their oppression of women. And those who still see her as an advocate for women should research her 1980s interview, recorded by journalist Roy Reed. On the tape, Hillary light-heartedly recounts her clever and successful legal defense of a vicious child rapist she knew to be guilty.
And worse yet, Hillary’s amorphous core beliefs have not always been tied to polling data. In the recently published “Clinton Cash,” author Peter Schweizer lays out a series of decisions and policy reversals by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which favored foreign entities that either contributed to her foundation or paid exorbitant speaking fees to her husband. Her defenders indignantly argue that there is no “proof” of a quid pro quo. But elections don’t take place in a courtroom. Voters only need common sense, not a Black’s Law Dictionary.
We have a right to expect that the person occupying the White House is the same person we elected. When someone’s core values continuously change so dramatically, we simply don’t know who that person is. The old adage cautions us about buying a pig in a poke. Why would we elect one? Common sense tells us that, while champions stand for something, Hillary Clinton is an opportunist, an efficient gauge of public opinion, who stands for nothing. Worse, it suggests that she is a purveyor of political favors, completely devoid of the principles essential to leadership.
Peter Lemiska has spent more than 28 years in government service. He is a former Senior Special Agent of the U.S. Secret Service and an Air Force veteran. His political commentaries have been widely published on line and in print.
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