Something Rarer Than a Unicorn: An Even-Handed Examination of Hillary Clinton

What if you had a neighbor kid who woke you up every Saturday morning at 7:00 a.m. by playing his drum kit just outside your bedroom window, but by 9:00 a.m., he was over mowing your lawn free-of-charge. Would you love this kid or hate him? Probably neither. I expect you would feel somewhat torn, and understandably so. This neighbor kid is not unlike Hillary Clinton.

While Clinton would unquestionably bring a lot of admirable qualities and an impressive resume to the White House, she also brings with her a lot of baggage that would concern most any voter of any political stripe. For these reasons, when I hear a person extol the near angelic nature of Hillary Clinton or hear someone else yell, “Hillary for Prison,” I think to myself, “These two people have a lot more in common than they think.” Both people are drawn to hyperbole and both struggle mightily with confirmation bias.

When reading articles on Hillary Clinton or listening to pundits, it is difficult to find someone who is not on one of these two extremes—i.e., Hillary is a hybrid of FDR and Mother Teresa, or the “Benghazi Bitch” needs to die or go to prison.

This piece will attempt to briefly lay out some of the key reasons for and against a Hillary presidency in a manner that is based on demonstrable facts and a good-faith effort to educate people who really are looking to cut through the tribalistic crap that makes it so hard to learn anything.

The Case Against Hillary Clinton

  • Hillary has a bit of Richard Nixon in her in that she is drawn towards secrecy. Using an email server in her own home was almost certainly done as a way to avoid disclosing her official email communications to the public. While one can understand Hillary’s reluctance to be open after 25 years of constant attack from the right, understanding her preference for secrecy does not excuse it. And her desire for secrecy is not limited to her emails. This is a politician who appears to believe the American people are on a need-to-know basis.
  • By the FBI’s account, even though Hillary was not indicted for her email practices, they still characterized her actions as “extremely careless” and she oversaw a department that inadequately protected classified information. While her actions may have been largely customary by State Department standards when she arrived, rather than improving a system failing to protect State secrets, she actually made it worse.
  • Hillary Clinton voted for the Iraq War—an event many people believe to be the greatest foreign policy mistake in our nation’s history.
  • Hillary seems to lack core convictions on many issues, and sometimes her positions seems to change based on political calculations. For example, she was vocally for the Trans-Pacific Partnership before she was against it. Hillary will also sometimes avoid taking a position on key issues until it is clear which way public sentiment is leaning. For example, she may have been the last presidential candidate to take a position on the Keystone pipeline. Hillary was also one of the last leaders of the Democratic Party to support gay marriage. While Hillary has eventually come down on the correct side of these issues (from a Democrat’s perspective), her refusal to stake out a strong position from the beginning demonstrates a lack of leadership and/or convictions.
  • Hillary spends a large amount of time around really rich people, and accepts a tremendous amount of money from the mega-wealthy. I believe Hillary is sincere when she states these things do not influence her decision-making, but she is human. It is unreasonable to believe that the company one chooses to keep will not influence his or her thought-process and decision-making. The rich, powerful, and entrenched power centers unquestionably have Hillary’s ear.

The Case for Hillary Clinton

  • Barack Obama is correct to say that no human being has ever run for president better prepared to be president than Hillary Clinton. Look at this resume: first lady for eight years; secretary of state for four years; U.S. senator for eight years; and a Yale law degree. One of the biggest problems with past presidents such as Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton is that they arrived on the job with little idea of what they were in for. Hillary would have no such problem.
  • The thing I most respect about Hillary is her work ethic and intelligence. This is a person who clearly takes her job seriously, and studies up to learn everything she can before making a decision. In a time of so many blowhard politicians who have no idea what they are talking about, it is immensely refreshing to hear a politician that can knowledgably speak on any issue. This tells me Hillary respects the position she is running for. In sharp contrast, I look to someone like Jeb Bush whose only job for the past nine years has been to prepare for running for president, and the guy showed up on the scene unable to answer the most basic and predicable questions. That would never happen with Hillary.
  • Hillary has been a leader on some great issues. For example, she has been a champion for expanding health care, especially to children. She played an integral role in passing federal SCHIP legislation (expanding health care to poor children). Hillary has also been a tireless advocate for expanding women’s rights abroad, even in places where such a message was not welcome. As Secretary of State, Hillary played a critical role in getting Osama bin Laden, and implementing tougher sanctions on Iran. Over the past 25 years, Hillary has actually done a lot of things. Most any person could find at least a few they agree with and are grateful for.
  • Hillary is contemplative and steady. I trust Hillary to avoid making rash decisions, and to seek out the counsel of the smartest people on Earth. This is an important quality in a person who will have access to the largest nuclear arsenal in the world.
  • Hillary Clinton believes in science. It is sad that this has to be listed as a qualification for president, but those are the times in which we live.
  • By most measures, Hillary is a moderate. As a liberal, this disappoints me, but if looking at this from national perspective rather than my own, Hillary would be an effective representative for the beliefs of most Americans.

After going through this list, I find myself going back to the analogy of the drum-playing, lawn-mowing neighbor kid. It is difficult to understand how a person can consider both sides of the Hillary equation, and conclude she is worthy of either adoration or hate. Hillary is a complex person with much to like and dislike. And because Hillary is such a mixed bag, I chose not to support her in the primaries, but can understand why others did. If you love or hate Hillary Clinton or your neighbor kid, I think it says a lot more about you than it does Ms. Clinton or the neighbor kid.

Finally, I want to make crystal clear that this article should not be mistaken as an attempt by me to demonstrate my personal struggles over who to support in November. I am having no internal struggle when being asked to choose between the mixed-bag of Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump—a volatile, racist, thin-skinned man whose understanding of domestic and world affairs could fit into a thimble, and who has devoted his life solely to the enrichment of himself. Faced with such a choice, there is no choice. Despite it being thought pithy and fashionable these days to say so, I am having no difficulty choosing who to support for president.

Perhaps if this was 2008 or 2012, and voters had the options of thoughtful Republicans like John McCain or Mitt Romney, the careful weighing of Hillary Clinton’s strengths and weaknesses would be important. But this isn’t 2008 or 2012, and with Trump drooling on the other side, such an exercise is purely academic. Although it would be nice if more people engaged in this kind of thoughtful examination of Hillary Clinton so we could have a meaningful conversation about our next president rather than yelling insults from across the room.

– Dylan


2 Responses to “Something Rarer Than a Unicorn: An Even-Handed Examination of Hillary Clinton”

  1. If the neighborhood kid came over and mowed my law everyday at 7 am I would have something to say.

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