By Tom Ehrich
Of the three candidates still running, I think Hillary Clinton would make by far the best President.
She has the most experience in elected office, in executive work, and in working all sides of our complex political world, from domestic policy to foreign affairs. Donald Trump’s ideas are loathsome, his behavior boorish, and his overall competence C-minus. He would be in over his head from day one.
As a public figure for most of her adult life, Clinton has accumulated a heavy backpack of negatives. She would be an easy target for Trump, both as a leader whose record, while extensive, is marred, and, sad to say for what he will make of it, as a woman who isn’t charming, demure, quick with a smile, or a 10.
I appreciate Bernie Sanders’ appeal to the young and to progressives of all ages. I just don’t think he has the experience or temperament to serve in the Oval Office, though he would be far preferable to Trump if the Democratic nomination fell to Sanders.
Truth be told, I would be happier if the Democratic Party nominated a younger and less compromised candidate. But as I say that, I realize I can’t think of anyone to suggest.
My endorsement isn’t exactly hold-my-nose or choose-the-least-objectionable. If Clinton can survive the vicious GOP attack coming her way, a crescendo of the Clinton hatred that has been going on for decades on the right wing, I do think she would make an excellent President. If she were paired with someone like Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, I could even get excited.
What I realize, though, is that the office of President is too important for a likeability contest, for campaigning by mob noise, for a say-anything response to issues, or for the simple pseudo-solutions that Trump seems to favor.
I don’t expect any significant leader to have a backpack empty of negatives. No one can lead in this divided nation without stirring vitriol and without needing to make compromises. Our best Presidents had flawed personalities and highly blemished records. Read the biographies of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Harry Truman. They all came to the office flawed and had to grow. I don’t see Donald Trump as capable of growth. Narcissism is a personality disorder, not a pathway to effectiveness.
I think Trump would be a disaster as President. He has no qualifications for the office. He makes an effective campaigner, but in office he would know too little, pretend too much, learn nothing, lie about everything, and lead us close to, perhaps into, the fascist state that many seem to want. The fact that he is within striking distance of the Oval Office is frightening. It is a sign of how much maturing and healing our social order needs. We are a broken nation. Electing a man who celebrates that brokenness, in the way a bottom-feeder celebrates a bankruptcy, would be dangerous to the future of democracy.
Clinton is more than an anti-Trump. In her personality, her experience, her dealing with non-stop attacks, and her political intelligence, she presents a positive choice for President.