Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Hating Hillary: An analysis of the why, the when, and the who

Update: Before I get to the main topic: the Benghazi witch hunt is a bust. But it was never a true investigation. It was always about inflicting political damage on Hillary Clinton. You know, the former Secretary of State who faced down that panel of white guys who were obviously out to get her. She came across as calm and in control. They came across as sweating the small stuff. See my closing comments below.

Now on to the "Hating Hillary" topic ...

... [as President] she will disappoint us all on occasion. Who doesn’t? But I think she’s also going to surprise a lot of people. She will fear neither consensus when possible nor ass-kicking when necessary. She will safeguard us from the damage a right-wing Supreme Court would inflict on the nation. She will stand for the rights of women, LGBT Americans, and minorities. She will maintain critical global relationships, and she will react to dangerous situations with the temperament of a seasoned and experienced professional. And in a nation that didn’t even allow women to vote until 1920, she will make history by shattering the very highest glass ceiling, and in doing so forever change the way a generation of young women view their place in our Republic.

She’s going to be a fine President.

When it comes to credentials, nobody, not in this election, nobody is more qualified to be president. On this her friends and many of her adversaries agree.

... maybe it’s OK if we pause for a moment from the accusations and paranoia and just acknowledge her enormous accomplishments. In the entire history of our nation, only 6 Presidents have also served as Secretary of State. Only 3 have served both as Secretary of State and in Congress. By any objective measure Hillary Clinton is not just the most qualified candidate this season, she’s one of the most qualified people to ever seek the office. The New York Times in endorsing her stated that, “voters have the chance to choose one of the most broadly and deeply qualified presidential candidates in history.” Jonathan Bernstein at Bloomberg stated that, “she is probably the best qualified presidential candidate ever.” Even Marco Rubio, one-time choice of the GOP establishment (and tea-party love-child) stated in a Republican debate that, “If this is a resume contest, Hillary Clinton is going to be the new President of the United States.”

How do we reconcile those plaudits with "the issues people are currently using to disparage Clinton ... the issues of dishonesty, scandals, money and Wall Street"?

The above quotes are from an article by Michael Arnovitz, Thinking About Hillary — A Plea for Reason in Arnovitz covers all four issues; I will use just the honesty issue to motivate your reading of his entire article. Trust me - it's really good. (If you don't trust me, trust Pam Duchaine and Miriam Lindmeier who brought this to my attention.)

To conservatives she is a radical left-wing insurgent who has on multiple occasions been compared to Mikhail Suslov, the Soviet Kremlin’s long-time Chief of Ideology. To many progressives (you know who you are), she is a Republican fox in Democratic sheep’s clothing, a shill for Wall Street who doesn’t give a damn about the working class. The fact that these views could not possibly apply to the same person does not seem to give either side pause. Hillary haters on the right and the left seem perfectly happy to maintain their mutually incompatible delusions about why she is awful. The only thing both teams seem to share is the insistence that Hillary is a Machiavellian conspirator and implacable liar, unworthy of society’s trust.

And this claim of unabated mendacity is particularly interesting, because while it is not the oldest defamation aimed at Hillary, it is the one that most effortlessly glides across partisan lines. Indeed, for a surprisingly large percentage of the electorate, the claim that Hillary is innately dishonest is simply accepted as a given. It is an accusation and conviction so ingrained in the conversation about her that any attempt to even question it is often met with shock. And yet here’s the thing: it’s not actually true. Politifact, the Pulitzer prize-winning fact-checking project, determined for example that Hillary was actually the most truthful candidate (of either Party) in the 2016 election season. And in general Politifact has determined that Hillary is more honest than most (but not all) politicians they have tracked over the years.

Hillary is a politician, and like all politicians she is no stranger to “massaging” and/or exaggerating the truth. And yes on occasion she will let loose a whopper. But is she worse than other politicians? As I’ve already discussed, the evidence suggests that she is no worse, and actually better, than most other politicians. Internet videos like the “13 minutes of Hillary lying” appear to be mostly examples of Hillary changing her position over several decades, combined with annoying but typical political behavior. But similar videos of Donald Trump exist showing him doing an even more extreme version of the same thing. Why is he not being accused of this type of mendacity? In fact there is very little dispute that Trump has been SIGNIFICANTLY less honest on the campaign trail than Hillary. According to Politifact he is in fact the least honest candidate they’ve ever analyzed! So if the issue of honesty is really that important, why are so many people (on the right and left) holding Hillary to such an obviously different standard than Trump?

The Arnovitz answer is simple: sexism. Hillary's numbers go south when she seeks positions of power (see article for the numbers). Women are not supposed to do that, right?

This election is about many things, and one of those things is a fundamental matter of character: honesty. Trump is the least honest politician ever. Clinton is one of the most honest politicians ever.

Do read the whole of Arnovitz's article. If you are a Hillary hater, stop it! The facts are not on your side. If you are a Hillary supporter, sharpen your pencils, take notes, and make a list of talking points.

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