Spotted lily

Spotted lily

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Clinton vs Trump: Is there a Winning Side?

This may never happen here again, but I’m going to start out with a little bit of a defense of Hillary Clinton.  Of course I don’t agree with her liberal policies or her dishonesty about things like her e-mail server and what happened in Benghazi (hey, I said it was a little defense,) but I do think that some statements for which she’s been criticized during this campaign have been blown out of proportion.

For example, Mrs. Clinton recently said that she wouldn’t keep schools open that weren’t doing a better than average job.  Yes, you can say that, taken literally, this could mean that she’d have to close the lower-performing half of all schools after every assessment, which obviously would not be a practical way to handle education.  However, isn’t it possible to think instead that an evaluation system might assign letter grades to schools for their performance and that, since “C” has traditionally been defined as an indicator of average work, any mark of C+ or better would be considered “better than average?”  Would it really be that unreasonable to expect all schools to strive for such a grade and to hope that only small numbers would fail to reach it, and isn’t it very possible that Hillary Clinton was referring to something along these lines in her remarks?

Also, much was made of Hillary Clinton’s reference to Republicans as her “enemies” in one of the Democratic debates.  I must confess that I did not see what all the fuss was about.  The candidates were specifically asked about enemies in relation to their political careers, so I do not think it follows that only terrorists or regimes like Iran would be truly acceptable answers.  In addition, Mrs. Clinton is certainly far from the only person, on either side of the aisle, to view or treat those with whom they disagree politically in a hostile way, whether or not the term “enemy” is actually used.  (Just listen to all of the invective directed at the “Washington establishment/cartel/elite” these days.)  So, I find it a little odd that Hillary Clinton’s comment would be deemed outrageous during a campaign in which going out of one’s way to defy political correctness without worrying about offending people seems to be the ultimate virtue to many.  Besides, while some fellow politicians or party operatives may just be colleagues or opponents with whom you disagree or compete, some others are political enemies seeking to destroy your reputation, career, or initiatives in whatever ways they can.  Hillary Clinton very likely has first hand knowledge of this both as a target and an aggressor, and Republicans would be wise not to dismiss the notion of serious threats from political opponents.

There have been other instances as well, but these should suffice for now.  In general, I would advise others who are not fans of Hillary Clinton that, since she is so wrong about so many issues, there is no need to parse every little thing she says in such a way as to render it ridiculous or offensive.  After all, to find those qualities, we can just look to her stated positions on things such as the successes of Obamacare, absolute support for abortion on demand, and public funds for Planned Parenthood.

My take on the recent spat between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump probably does not fit with the common conservative/Republican view of the matter, either.  I don’t think that Trump should be defended, way less cheered, for tossing gratuitous insults at his opponents, especially when he does so in particularly crude fashion.  Since it shouldn’t be “OK” to treat others -- male or female -- this way, I personally don’t think it’s really necessary for Hillary or others to try to counter Trump on “sexist” grounds, especially since doing so may well just reinforce the notion that he’s fighting against “political correctness” and increase his support among his fans. I realize that Hillary Clinton may not be the most sympathetic target of Trump’s enthusiastically negative rhetoric or have the most standing to complain about it, considering her past involvement in efforts to discredit her own opponents and those of her husband, but that doesn’t mean we should condone everything said against her.  Yes, despite Bill Clinton’s shameful behavior, Hillary did defend her husband and make derogatory remarks about the women who were involved with him or who made serious accusations against him, and people can certainly criticize her for that.  However, if certain criticisms of Mrs. Clinton cross acceptable lines, I think it is fair and possible to point that out without excusing any wrongdoing on her part.

We’ll have to see how things develop, but I’m really not convinced that Donald Trump’s assertion that Hillary Clinton bringing up the issue of sexism makes Bill Clinton’s many scandals “fair game” is such a brilliantly victorious point for Trump.  For one thing, the public certainly didn’t seem to believe that Bill Clinton deserved political punishment as a candidate or a sitting President when the allegations of harassment and assault and the other tabloid-worthy stories were much more recent.  Will they really choose to take these things out on his wife now?  Might they even be annoyed by a return to “old news” and want to “move on” once again?  Also, Donald Trump doesn’t seem particularly well-suited to critically discuss Bill Clinton’s record toward and with women.  Clinton’s sleazy (and possibly criminal) behavior apparently didn’t bother Trump before, since he chose to compliment, support, and donate to the Clintons until fairly recently.  Plus, Donald Trump is far from a shining example of moral rectitude and marital fidelity himself, as demonstrated by his own messy history with wives, girlfriends, and less than tasteful comments about women.  Wouldn’t it seem potentially risky to deliberately bring this general subject to voters’ attention?  (I know, I know, presumably not for Trump, since basically everything helps him in the polls...)

Really, though, shouldn’t social conservatives, in particular, be averse to voting for someone like Trump?  I don’t know if those in that category willing to support him don’t care about personal character anymore, or if their assumption, which I hope isn’t true, is that everyone else in politics has similar skeletons in their pasts, too, even if we haven’t yet heard about them, or if there is some other explanation.  Whatever the reason, I find it unfortunate that we seem to keep lowering our expectations of (at least some of) those seeking the highest offices in the country, and Donald Trump’s support among those calling themselves conservatives continues to be puzzling and disappointing.

The prospect of  a general election campaign between Hillary Rodham Clinton and Donald Trump is not a pleasant one.  There is plenty of ammunition for attacks and negative advertising against both of them, and, as a conservative, such a contest would give me no good choice to support.  Since the party nominations have not yet been decided, I can only hope that Republican voters will ultimately make a wiser choice and prevent this match-up from becoming a reality, but I must admit that I am not at all confident about it.