By Rob Oldham
A relative recently posed the question to me, “Who are you going to vote for if the election comes down to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump?” This relative is a strong conservative, a reliable Republican voter, and, and at this point, a believer in what I used to think was common sense: Donald Trump is crazy.
Nevertheless, when I picked the candidate who does not want to deport 11 million immigrants and force Mexico to pay for a wall with a great big door that will “welcome” the deportees back, he was dumbfounded.
“Are you serious, Rob?”
This encounter might make for an awkward Thanksgiving, but it also exposes a truth in the upcoming election: the GOP hates Hillary Clinton. Polls have found that fewer than 14 percent of Republican voters have a favorable view of Hillary. This is only slightly down from her 25 percent approval rating among Republicans in 2009. The primary candidates are no kinder to her. Scott Walker said in the first debate that “everywhere in the world that Hillary Clinton touched is more messed up today” than before she was Secretary of State. Mike Huckabee referred to her as a person who “doesn’t have a clue how to govern,” is “filled with scandals,” and “could not lead.”
Perhaps this should come as no surprise. The story of the Republican Party in 2016 thus far has been the rejection of Washington insiders, the Obama presidency, and leftist politics in general. This is seen in the rise of Trump, Ben Carson, and Ted Cruz, each of whom have Hillary in their crosshairs. She is the only candidate in 2016 who symbolizes the entire triumvirate of GOP scorn.
The best way to rile up a rabid Republican voter is to mention any number of left-wing policies that would only work in a Democrat’s fantasy world. Examples include solving all of our spending problems by raising taxes on the rich, saving the environment by refusing to build the Keystone pipeline, or restoring 1960s-era community banking by imposing tougher regulations on Wall Street. Clinton has advocated for each of these policies.
If you really want to get a Republican hot, be sure to bring up Hillary’s service as Secretary of State in the Obama Administration. In the words of Rush Limbaugh, Obama is a “Marxist hack,” who has done more to bankrupt the country domestically and weaken it internationally than any president since…well, probably the last Democrat.
But policy and presidents aside, there is a legitimate concern Republicans have about Hillary that is possible to arrive at through objective observation rather than partisan bias. She is insincere, the quintessential calculating politician who will do and say anything to get elected. Americans want a president they can trust, and Hillary has not proven herself worthy.
Hillary’s slippery past starts, of course, with the Whitewater scandal in the late 1980s where she and husband Bill Clinton were connected to a shady real estate development company in Arkansas. Although they were cleared of corruption allegations, several of their close associates ended up in prison. Hillary further turned off Americans when she dismissed allegations that then President Bill was having an affair with an intern, calling it a “vast right wing conspiracy.” She let her opportunistic side shine through in the 2000 elections when she ran to be a senator from New York despite having been born in Chicago and living in Arkansas for most of her life (New Yorkers didn’t mind as they elected her in a landslide).
Recent controversies have only gotten worse. Despite being disregarded as a partisan witch hunt by many, the House Select Committee on Benghazi did unearth one damning detail on where Hillary falls when the choice is between politics and responsibility. Even though she told her daughter Chelsea on the night of the attack on the Libyan Embassy that Al Qaeda was responsible, she continued to advance the Obama Administration’s politically convenient explanation that protests over a racist videotape caused the violence for the next two days. Then, of course, there is the email scandal. Hillary’s sense of entitlement has come glaring through as she struggles to explain why she kept her emails stored on a server at home instead of on the State Department’s system. Some of the emails might have contained classified information, and it is unclear if her self-storage posed a security threat. Despite being dismissed by the left as a fake scandal, Hillary’s emails are currently being investigated by the FBI. Hillary’s response? Why, it’s another right wing conspiracy of course.
This all leads into Saturday night’s debate, where Hillary Clinton was at her finest. Criticism of the Wall Street banks has been a bipartisan issue as of late. Democrats and Republicans alike are concerned that Wall Street gets special treatment from Washington. This might be part of what is driving the support of outsider candidates. Hillary hypocritically tried to tap into this anger by claiming she would reign in Wall Street as president. Bernie Sanders called her out for taking huge donations from Wall Street during her time in office. Hillary’s answer? Her response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks was why Wall Street supported her.
No. Hillary was already raking in the money from Wall Street in her 2000 Senate race. Nothing changed after the attacks either. In 2007, she publically lambasted a tax break for bank executives, but didn’t even sign on to the bill in Congress that would have curbed it. In 2008, she reached out to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson on the behalf of friends at AIG who were looking for a government bailout. I wonder if those same friends believed her when she recently declared on “The Late Show” that she would let the banks fail next time they mess up. Wall Street’s endorsement of her new regulation plan suggests they do not. The one action she regards as proof of her aversion to Wall Street is a 2008 bill that would have limited compensation for corporate executives. She sponsored the bill but did not advocate for it particularly well. It was never even referred to committee, dying a quick death as a political messaging tool rather than a serious policy proposal.
I will not even touch on the controversies surrounding Bill’s speaking tours, questionable donations to the Clinton Foundation when Hillary was Secretary of State, or her shameful characterization of Sanders as a sexist after the first Democratic debate. Politics and Obama aside, Hillary’s almost magnetic attraction to scandal is a key reason why Republicans cannot stand her.
They better get used to her though. Barring an unprecedented reversal in fortune, or a new, even more damaging controversy, Hillary will be the next president. She doesn’t need Republican support. A nonincumbent Republican has not won a presidential election since George H.W. Bush in 1988 (Sorry George W., but you lost the popular vote in 2000). It does not hurt Hillary that the Republican Party is shooting itself in the foot in the primary with Trump and Ben Carson running the show. Fidel Castro’s observation that the 2012 Republican Primary was “The greatest competition of idiocy and ignorance there has ever been” might apply better to the 2016 field. Could you imagine any of the current frontrunners as president? If so, I suggest you watch Trump’s response to ISIL’s recent attack on Paris. His initial reaction is to carpet bomb Syria back to the Stone Age. Imagine the Donald with the nuclear football. Wait, maybe you shouldn’t.
Hillary does have a worthy opponent on the Democratic side in Bernie Sanders. Despite my disagreement with his far-left politics, Bernie is probably the most decent person running in 2016. Unfortunately, I, along with most of the American public, would not be comfortable with a socialist getting within 100 yards of the White House. Inspiration and ideas are one thing. Running a government is something else entirely.
There’s the rub. Hillary does have the experience to run the country. She has been around for a while and knows how the federal government operates. That is more than can be said for most of the 2016 field. Her experience alone may propel her to the Oval Office. I can accept that. But Hillary, forgive me if I question your integrity along the way. Trust is earned, not given. Hillary is divisive now and there is no reason to believe she won’t be once in office. Be prepared for four to eight more years of gridlock and politics-as-usual as Hillary is unlikely to invite her Republican “enemies” to sing Kumbaya anytime soon.
Nevertheless, I will have faith as I go to the ballot in November to cast my vote against Donald Trump rather than for Hillary Clinton. Hope springs eternal and every president should be given a chance to create their legacy rather than be defined by their past. Even Hillary Clinton. If she fails? Well, we all know how much Republicans love to say, “I told you so.”
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