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Clinton in perspective

Hillary has offered no radical new ideas since her college days

Rejected Democrat candidate Bernie Sanders would have done nicely. He is passionate about the agendas of equality, sustainability and accountability.

On equality: “The issue of wealth and income inequality is the great moral, economic and political issue of our time”. On Climate: “Climate change is the single greatest threat facing our planet. On accountability: “Are we prepared to take on the enormous economic and political power of the billionaire class, or do we continue to slide into oligarchy?”. Sanders, much more than Corbyn in Britain, more than the anti-property-tax, anti-water-charge Radical Left in Ireland, gets it.

However, in his absence we are left with two conservative candidates: one sober and clever, the other bombastic, mendacious, fascistic and intolerant.

Clinton is strong on the environment and climate but doesn’t buy the rhetoric or the meat on equality, and her record on accountability is tainted.

Trump never mentions equality, doesn’t believe in climate change and can’t stop lying and reversing his positions.

Liar vs Liar II
Liar vs Liar Round II at the second US presidential debate

It would be better to like Hillary Clinton but she’s just too boring, just too insincere, just too compromised and above all just too conservative for this magazine. Since every word she has said since Bill became Governor in Arkansas in 1978, when she was 30 has been parsed and often shredded, she has not really been alive to exciting new ideas. Her intellectual curiosity seems to have peaked as an academic in Yale when she had radical views on children. Her political life has been a history of triangulation, of compromise, of expediency with, for America, a vaguely liberal, Democrat- just-left-of-centre gloss.

This is a woman who until three years ago was not even in favour of gay marriage. In 2005 she said “I believe marriage is not just a bond but a sacred bond between a man and a woman”. She does not have the instincts of secular European liberals: “Bill and I went into our bedroom, closed the door and prayed together for God’s help as he took on this awesome honor and responsibility”, Clinton wrote of her husband winning the 1992 election. She grew up in a Methodist household, taught Sunday school like her mother and is a member of a Senate prayer group.

Hillary has had a difficult time in the public eye but coped with some dignity, for example, with a husband who had a nastily roaming eye. Unfortunately for this otherwise gilded couple: for many the rosy picture they paint of undaunted mutual support rings false. This is something Trump was always liable to exploit.

She is not an empathetic candidate. She is a shocking orator, shouts at public meetings and weirdly emphasises the wrong parts of words and sentences.

More substantively, Hillary was never far from nancial wrangles when Bill was in the White House: there was Whitewater, Travelgate, Filegate, and a cattle-futures controversy. Anomalously and disturbingly for someone whose earnings ow almost exclusively from her public life, she now has an estimated worth of $45m. For the fifteen months ending in March 2015, Clinton earned over $11m from speeches and in 2013 she was paid $225,000 to speak at a Goldman Sachs’ conference on ‘Builders and Innovators’. When the Clintons’ indulgence of a revolving door of their policy-makers into and out of top positions in delinquent banks is taken into account, it leaves an unpleasant odour.

Inevitably with such a long record in public life Clinton has left a legacy of controversy. Her failure to get healthcare reform through Congress during her husband’s Presidency has been attributed to arrogance.

Her political life has been a history of triangulation, of compromise, of expediency with, for America, a vaguely liberal, Democrat-just-left-of-centre gloss steady and wonkish but generated a number of controversies.

When in 2012 members of the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, were killed, Clinton was forced to take responsibility for security lapses.

In 2015, it was revealed by the State Department’s inspector general that Clinton had always used personal email accounts on a private server instead of a federal server, during her tenure as secretary of state. In July the FBI concluded an investigation. The FBI said: “It is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal email account”.

Although Clinton or her colleagues were “extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information”, the FBI recommended no charges. Clinton has tended to exaggerate the extent of the FBI’s exoneration of her.

On many issues, the positions of Clinton and Trump align with that of their parties – Clinton wants to raise taxes on high-income households while Trump wants to cut taxes for all income brackets Clinton is pro-choice, Trump is pro-life; Clinton supports the DREAM Act and a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, while Trump wants to deport all undocumented immigrants, build a wall on the Mexican border and be nasty to China; Clinton wants to expand gun control legislation, Trump does not;. Clinton is for LGBT rights; Trump says he sees himself as a “traditional guy” on the issue.

On other issues, the lines are more blurry. Ironically, for example, alleged billionaire Trump claims to be for the small voter.

Clinton has served as Secretary of State in the Obama administration, where she was responsible for orchestrating US foreign policy. She is perceived as more interventionist than Obama. Trump tends to non-intervention. Unless someone annoys him.

Michael Smith