The Clintons* are exhausting. In this, their 25th year with us, they sap away enthusiasm. Sec. Clinton is as inspiring as day old Wonder bread. She cannot connect.
In the case of the Clinton Foundation Secretary Clinton seems to carry with her an indifference as to what might be perceived as unethical. Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine has described “the purpose of the Clinton Foundation is to leverage Clinton fame into charitable donations. That purpose has important positive effects — shaking loose donations for AIDS prevention and training African farmers and other worthy causes. But it also has the unavoidable side effect of giving rich people a way to curry favor with a powerful elected official.” Stephen Gillers in The Nation: erception is where the Clintons have always had a problem. The public needs to believe that as president Hillary will not abuse her power to help Bill or the foundation. It needs to trust her. Winning that trust will be a challenge. The Clintons seem to think that because they believe in their own virtue, so should everyone else—and so they do what they want to do, never mind appearances. When they explain a perceived ethical shortcoming, “we wonder if they’re being straight or if it’s all lawyer talk.” Most “voters … understand that for public officials, subordinating their own interests to preserve public trust is not only a job requirement but also an essential part of character.” At this point many do not trust Sec. Clinton to do so.
The Clintons have been fortunate in their enemies: Newt Gingrich, Ken Starr, a deranged Republican Congress, and now Rudy Giuliani, Steve Bannon of Breitbart, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Roger Ailes. Next to that repugnant crew of dopes, Anti-Semites, bigots, sexual harassers and grifters, Sec. Clinton’s faults gain a certain moderate perspective. Some of the attacks leveled against Sec. Clinton are clearly misognystic and vile — the nonsense put out by the Trump campaign and his surrogates about her health, her role in murder conspiracies, and her inability to handle the Presidency because she is a woman. And there is also the continuing effort by the Russians, WikiLeaks and Julian Assange to destroy her candidacy.
To a point we vote for Presidents based on a kind of wish fulfillment. We carry forward a vague shambles of nostrums, hopes, intuitions, facts, maybe even policies that we hope the new President will fulfill. Some voters fall in love. Some fall in dislike. I will vote for Sec. Clinton not because I am in love or because I have faith that she will forge any great progress in American life. I will vote for her because we operate in a binary system and there are only two choices.** I will vote for her because of what she will not do. I can be reasonably certain that she will not throw the lives of American soldiers away through the use of ignorance or machismo. She will not disseminate hatred or seek to control or degrade the lives of women. She will not cozy up to Putin. She will not open up the Artic National Wildlife Refuge or flatten more mountains in West Virginia coal country or scrap the EPA and environmental laws. She will not give back public lands to piratical corporations in western states. More wolves and birds and grizzlies will live if she is elected. With Sec. Clinton, climate change may be addressed. She might be able to build and improve the electric grid and roads and railways and thus create the jobs that will help lift more citizens out of desperate circumstances. She will at least seek to alter the predatory nature of student loans, and maybe she will be able to pass new civil rights legislation that will eliminate the despicable attempt to suppress voting in so many states. Of course, if elected, one will wake up each morning wondering what the Clintons have done this time that causes another shaking of the head, but that is better than watching in horror as Mr. Trump deliberately lays waste to the Republic. Such is our option.
*She seems to have stuck Bill in a box in a sealed room somewhere. Smart move. Ever since his treatment of Monica Lewinsky, I have not been able to look at him without thinking of all the young women I taught as seniors and seeing them in Ms. Lewinsky’s place. He did something unforgivable to her.
**Stein and Johnson are throwaway votes. Mr. Trump is, I believe, an existential threat to life and American democracy. One either votes for him or against him. No middle ground.