I am not a Hillary Clinton groupie. Voted for Barack Obama when she ran against him for president in 2008 despite her superior qualifications. Believed she carried too much baggage, including husband Bill. A very heavy load. Called for his resignation in this column when he defiled the presidency with his sordid affair with Monica Lewinsky, lied about it to a grand jury, and then to the American people.
I described the Clintons as some modern day version of Daisy and Tom Buchanan in “The Great Gatsby,” who walked away from the emotional wreckage they caused and left their victims behind. Hillary was too secretive for me. Obsessively so. Too lawyerly at times in her explanations. So why am I voting for her now?
The obvious answer is Donald Trump. Stopping Trump is a major motivator, but not the only reason or even the main reason. I’m not holding my nose in voting for Hillary Clinton. Not voting for her because she is a woman, although I confess that I love the idea that we will have broken the color barrier in electing a president in my lifetime, and also overcome the sexist notion that a woman can’t be president. No.
Despite all of my previous misgivings, I’m voting for Hillary because I think she has the stuff to triumph over her personal flaws. I think she has the guts to protect us against our enemies and pursue the kind of policies here at home that will win over all but the hardcore haters who’ve always tried to poison our politics. What makes me feel this way?
In my mind the most important quality in a president is the ability to safeguard our homeland. If you can’t protect our interests in a dangerous world, all the best domestic efforts will not mean a thing. The idea that if you didn’t have to spend money on missiles you could build more little red schoolhouses sounds great, but if we allow the barbarians within our gates, there won’t be any little red schoolhouses. That’s not me giving the Defense Department (my former employer) a blank check. For too long, we’ve allowed defense spending to be a jobs program.
That failure is largely what has resulted in costly weapons purchases that not only don’t protect us, but serve to keep us from fully transitioning to defense policies that protect us against today’s major threats. Besides the threat of terrorism we face today, there are rumblings from the Russian bear. We need a tough leader who sees Vladimir Putin, the former KGB agent, as a disrupter of world peace, not a buddy who showers one of the candidates with false compliments to feed his ego.
Hillary Clinton is that tough leader. Yes, she misused her e-mail and obfuscated about it. She is the least likely person to do it again. And notwithstanding the FBI Director’s recent announcement about finding other e-mails to review, there is nothing that suggests his original decision not to indict Clinton will change. No, she is not responsible for turning her back on our embassy in Benghazi. If her political enemies couldn’t come up with anything after all their hearings, only the tone deaf can claim otherwise.
She was instrumental in Obama’s success in getting Osama bin Laden. If you doubt her toughness, read the book “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War” by former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. He is a Republican who served with Clinton in Obama’s cabinet. Time and time again, Gates relates how Hillary teamed with him to support tough policies. They didn’t always win, writes Gates, but she was right there with him. Always prepared. Never afraid to fight for her cause. Yes, she supported going into Iraq when she was a senator from New York (so did this columnist). But in all fairness, some of those who were right about not going into Iraq never met a war they would fight. But what about issues here at home?
Clinton is essentially a liberal on social issues and a centrist on economics. True, she has tilted left to gain the support of Bernie Sanders and his voters. Is she too close to Wall Street to rein in their most egregious abuses? I don’t think so. Just as Richard Nixon was able to open the door to China because his anti-Communist credentials were impeccable, I believe Clinton is uniquely poised to deal fairly with the banks and Wall Street. You can only do so by dealing with them and the Republicans in Congress, not as enemies, but as allies, as necessary partners to achieve our economic success. Her former Republican colleagues in the Senate respect her and have worked well with her in the past. I suspect that Republicans will not make the same mistake they made when Obama was elected, of pursuing the politics of obstruction. I may be naive in that respect. At least I’m hopeful.
Hillary Clinton seems to have no illusions about the rough road ahead if she wins. The idealistic fight she has waged for children over the past 30 years and others without a voice in our system has been tempered and even tainted by some of her character flaws. I believe that Clinton is fighting a personal battle for her very soul. A great story is unfolding. Will Hillary Clinton be able to lean upon the better angels of her nature and emerge in triumph?
I’m voting that she will. SPR
(Tom Cardella can be seen along with Paul Jolovitz at 6 p.m. on Nov. 7 with guest Nolan Carroll on Monday Night Kickoff video streaming on WBCB1490 TV.)