Democrats must be apoplectic watching Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers crumble like sandcastles in a thunderstorm. Mostly due to the current scandal, the polls on Clinton’s favorability and trustworthiness have all gone from mediocre to abysmal in recent months. Each time one deception is exposed, Clinton tries to explain it with another, and now, even many of her supporters are finally coming to terms with her inherent dishonesty.
Clinton’s frustration is also beginning to show. In her desperation to put Servergate behind her, she has been continuously shifting her defensive position. She’s tried everything from indignation and defiance, to indifference and lame humor. She has appeared at various times petulant, dismissive, amused or just confused by the all the controversy.
But despite the swelling criticism and her plummeting poll numbers, Hillary Clinton is still in the running. While most rational Americans fully understand the importance of national security and integrity in government, those issues don’t concern Clinton’s loyal supporters. They still believe her incredible explanations. They, like Clinton herself, see national security directives as merely a nuisance for people of her stature. Some of them just don’t give a whit about character.
More objective Americans are concerned. If compulsive dishonesty and dereliction of duty are not enough to disqualify a presidential candidate, what is? Even if she survives this latest scandal, Clinton has demonstrated profound deficiencies in the qualities that define leadership. The first article in this series addressed her lack of principle. The second focused on her divisiveness. Though strong convictions and the ability to unify are essential to leadership, so is competence - competence marked by accomplishments.
Her supporters argue that Clinton has more experience than her opponents in either party, and at first glance, she does seem to have a strong resume. She served as a U.S. Senator for eight years and as Secretary of State for four years. It sounds impressive until we consider her record of accomplishments.
Hillary Clinton is certainly adept at finagling her way into powerful positions. As a former First Lady, she had little trouble competing against a relative unknown in the 2000 New York Senate race. But her record as U.S. Senator is, at best, unimpressive. According to the non-partisan website, govtrack.us, from Jan, 2001 to January, 2009, Clinton missed 249 of 2,616 roll call votes – a whopping 9.5%. The median was 2%. According to congressional records, as Senator, she sponsored hundreds of bills, of which only three were enacted into law – one renaming a highway, one renaming a post office, and one dedicating an historic site.
But her senatorial experience did pave the way for her presidential bid in 2008. Following her loss to Barack Obama, she knew that if she wanted another run in 2016, she would have to remain in the public eye. Conveniently, Obama knew it was in his best interest to keep her under his watchful eye. Or maybe it was just because he found her “likeable enough,” but for whatever reason, he appointed her Secretary of State. For four years, Clinton went along to get along, and together, the Obama-Clinton team helped shape the world we have today. From their farcical “reset” with Russia to the mishandling of the Mid-East turmoil, to the tragic events in Benghazi, to the fumbled Iran nuclear agreement, they muddled their way through foreign policy.
Former Democratic President Jimmy Carter summed up the situation best, “…I would say that the United States’ influence and prestige and respect in the world is probably lower now than it was six or seven years ago.” Polls show that Americans agree.
The left touts the fact that, under this administration, America is no longer engaged in armed conflict anywhere in the world. But can unconditional, unilateral withdrawal from conflict ever lead to lasting peace? How long will it last, considering the exponential expansion of ISIS, Putin’s renewed aggression, and Iran’s approaching nuclear capacity?
Though Clinton’s failures are many, her most glaring is the Benghazi massacre, the assassination of four State Department diplomats, including an American Ambassador, the first since 1979. She eventually accepted responsibility. It looks good when department heads accept responsibility. She is even willing to accept the consequences – continued Democratic support and her party’s nomination to the presidency.
As to major achievements, Clinton’s resume is as blank as the faces of her supporters when asked about those accomplishments. In fairness, it is a tough question. On April 3, 2014, Clinton, herself, was interviewed at the Women of the World Summit in New York, and was asked a simple, direct question: “When you look at your time as Secretary of State, what are you most proud of?” She rambled about running the best race possible and passing the baton, with the expectation that what hasn’t been finished may go on to be finished. She never answered the question.
She’s better prepared now, and has scraped together a short list of dubious achievements. But after 12 years as a public servant, it’s clear that her crowning accomplishment was her accumulation of a vast personal fortune.
Hillary Clinton is not without her talents. Up until now, she has shown the uncanny ability to remain in the limelight and out of the justice system. But cunning is no substitute for competence, and it’s not what we look for in our presidential candidates.
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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