I Love Hillary Rodham Clinton!

In a manner of speaking, of course, but I really do dig that chick and will be thrilled to see her as the next president of the United States. She’s smart, she’s tough and has spent over forty years as a tireless public servant, not only preparing for the job but dedicated to improving the welfare of others.

Oh, but it’s all avarice, you say? A lifetime spent planning and scheming? So? The club of great ‘accidental’ presidents is a very, very small one. In fact, it probably only contains Teddy Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson, and history shows that they were both salivating over the presidency long before they ever got there. Anyway, better to have prepared properly than to have cut your teeth on bankruptcies, beauty contests, reality TV shows and ‘rastling. If Hillary were a man, we’d be lauding her for her strength, determination and vision. A woman and she’s scheming.

BS.

Is Hillary a saint? No. Are there a few chinks in her armor? Oh sure, but she’s human, for god’s sake, just like you and me. When I weigh all the good she’s done against her purported foibles, the reputation now attached to her just doesn’t add up. How did we arrive at this portrait of a villainous conniver? How did she become such a crook to the millennials??? She was Bernie Sanders before Bernie Sanders was Bernie Sanders. Just go back and look at Hillary’s early years. She was a hipster, as cool as they come.

I really must be living in an alternative universe this election campaign because even from my boomer generation compatriots I’m getting the ‘oy veys’.

Her emails. Benghazi. The foundation. And Bill, already. Who can trust her?

It all sounds like crap from that Fox News echo chamber and guess what? I caught one of my liberal buddies listening to Bill O’Reilly the other day.

Are you kidding me?

“He’s Irish,” I was told as some kind of defense.

Irish. Oh yeah, and so is Pat Buchanan.

See, you can’t take this crap floating around about Hillary without a grain of salt. A fellow Democrat feeding on Bill O’Reilly? You listen to that BS for a while and you’ll start believing anything. Hell, poke around the internet without using an informed filter and you’ll start believing anything.

Look, there’s a public record here. You can examine it. From Hillary’s Watergate Subcommittee work to the Children’s Defense Fund to First Lady to Senator of New York and Secretary of State, she has fought the good fight, helping to better the lives of countless millions. She has shown herself to be a wholly decent and compassionate human being. And for her troubles, she’s become a political piñata. There’s an old saw. If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not doing anything. I believe that applies to Hillary, only in spades.

Have she and Bill gotten fat on book deals and the speaker circuit in recent years? Fair enough. Have they gotten too chummy with big money along the way? Yeah, probably, but to all of Hillary’s many critics and character assassinators, I throw down this gauntlet. Compare her body of work to yours. If we’re being honest here, we all ought to be ashamed. Talk is cheap. That woman has given of herself continuously over the course of a lifetime.

Hillary once famously asserted that a ‘vast, rightwing conspiracy’ was being directed at her husband. Many folks scoffed then. You’d have to be blind to be scoffing now. When Mitch McConnell announced that his main purpose in life was to make sure Barack Obama remained a one term president, we were witnessing that right wing conspiracy finally shed its gossamer veil.

Here’s my take. As the modern Republican Party came of age during the Reagan presidency, his young apparatchiks were envisioning a dynasty, a hundred year reign. Thus, when Bill Clinton nudged them out of the White House in ’92, he had to be painted as an illegitimate usurper, a theme they immediately encored with the election of Barack Obama.

You think the birther movement sucks, millennials? Virtually from day one of President Clinton’s administration, he was saddled with the specter of wannabe Watergate scandals. Troopergate. Pardongate. Travelgate. Nannygate. Commercegate. Yes, even Wampumgate.

Whitewater, the granddaddy of them all, ended up costing the public forty million bucks or so and all Kenneth Starr could come up with was Monica’s blue dress. Aside from Bill’s peccadilloes, the Clinton’s were never found guilty of a damned thing.

No matter. Their names were forever tarnished, in a way that still attaches itself to Hillary’s résumé to this day. How else could Trump and friends get away with soiling Hillary over Bill’s infidelities?

And Trump should know about infidelity.

Again, I’m not here to paint Hillary as a saint, but for every charge you can level against her, you’ll find a parallel incident where the purported crime was far worse, with far less consequences to the perpetrator.

Take Benghazi, for example, the biggest tempest in a teapot of them all.

An oft overlooked fact is that Christopher Stevens himself refused to increase the security detail at the embassy compound on several occasions…

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/world/article24749134.html#.UZVciyv71Xd

Things get rather murky from there. With the CIA, it usually does. They had agents stationed at the embassy compound, when officially speaking they’re never really supposed to be anywhere near the place.

“Meet so and so, one of our State Department attachés.”

It’s a fig leaf the Libyan government and the rest of the world may have been prepared to accept, but probably not so much the Libyan people. Stevens knew this and demurred when it came to a visible militarization of the embassy. If he feared anything, it was a loss of trust with the local populace.

http://www.newsweek.com/knowing-its-dangers-chris-stephens-still-chose-travel-benghazi-384750

As it was, those CIA folks already had clandestine arms shipments coming and going. Stevens thought it best to maintain a light footprint and the whole lot of them got caught with their pants down as a result.

A good call? In hindsight, probably not, but was Hillary to blame? For a bit of perspective, let’s consider the ’83 Beirut bombings. Reagan’s Benghazi…on steroids. In April of that year our embassy was bombed with the loss of 17 American lives. Apparently Reagan didn’t learn a thing from that attack because our main Marine barracks was subsequently hit in October, with another 241 American lives lost. Yet does anyone remember a witch hunt? Can anyone even name then Secretary of State, George Schultz? In going back to research whose feet were held to the fire, I never saw his name come up. The buck stops with the president, not the Secretary of State, as folks seemed to understand at the time.

Now imagine if Reagan had been held to the same standards as Hillary and the Obama administration. He would have been tarred and feathered run out of town. Instead, Tip O’Neil, the Democratic Leader of the House refused to play politics with national security. Hearings were held to get to the bottom of what when wrong, in hopes it would never happen again, but Reagan was never publicly humiliated. They certainly didn’t try to go after Schultz.

Little seems to have been accomplished by the Benghazi hearings, beyond the optics of having placed Hillary in the public stocks. As the Republicans have acknowledged here and there (with less than a wink) this was all about tarnishing her for the 2016 election campaign, plain and simple.

Moving on to Email-gate, as this Guardian article properly points out, Hillary was hardly alone in viewing sensitive material from a private email account. Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice did the same thing.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/feb/04/colin-powell-condoleezza-rice-private-email-accounts-classified-hillary-clinton

When questioned by the Guardian, Powell quickly defended his own oversight by saying that some stuff simply isn’t marked sensitive or classified when it first comes across your desk, a defense that Hillary has also claimed and equally absolves her.

But Hillary went further, you say, by setting up her own private email server?

Hogwash. We’re back to assuming she’s some kind of double agent, with villainous motives, and I ain’t buying it. I’ll buy that she’s a bit jumpy and paranoid with regard to the aforementioned ‘vast right wing conspiracy’ but you tell me she doesn’t have a damned good reason to feel that way.

Here’s the real question. Were our national security and the safety of the American people ever put at risk? Maybe, but Russian hackers have proven they hardly need our help to accomplish that end, thank you. If every hacked email becomes an indictable offense, we’ll need mass trials to settle things.

Anyway, the proper response is to learn from our mistakes and perfect the protocols, not have a witch hunt. I don’t remember any Republican witch hunts when Powell and Rice were discovered to have committed the same heinous crime. The way Hillary’s been painted, you’d think she was Ethel Rosenberg. To me, this email business is simply one more instance of the woman, and the Clintons in general, being judged by a different standard.

With the specter of Benghazi and Email-gate now hanging over Hillary’s public persona, it’s hard to remember how highly esteemed she was as First Lady and a US Senator. You have to go back to Whitewater to find a concerted effort to tarnish her reputation, and never has so much been made out of a failed, fifty grand land deal.

Here is the most telling observation about Bill and Hillary’s Whitewater days. During their entire tenure in that seedy, backwater of southern politics, and despite countless opportunities to do so, they never enriched themselves at the public trough, there or going forward. Check the record. Whatever you want to make of the Clintons while out of office, they never used their official positions to make a buck.

For comparison’s sake, consider Lamar Alexander. Alexander served as governor of Tennessee during roughly the same timeframe that the Clintons were in Arkansas. He then moved on to the Senate, having transformed his meager fortunes into significant financial wealth by way of various sweetheart deals back in Tennessee.

http://realchange.org/alexandr.htm

Alexander also went on to run for the presidency, but does anyone remember the epithet ‘gate’ being attached to his name?

Again, just one more example of how the Clintons have been held to a different standard. Both of them have made some less than stellar decisions, but we all have. Let’s move on, please.

What’s sad here is that we have far more important matters to address as a nation. While we’re trying to screw Hillary over Benghazi and those emails, the middle-class is being gutted. The environment is heading for the dumps. We’re being turned into an ersatz third-world nation by corporate America and the ruling class. I say judge Hillary on her proposals to fix these more pressing issues. She’s actually made some.

Additionally, much had been made of Hillary’s lack of warmth as a candidate. Syndicated columnist Mark Shields, whom I respect greatly, harps on this theme on the News Hour with regularity these days. I can see that wise old owl expressing his exasperation.

“She just never reveals anything personal about herself.”

Really? Are we electing the head of our bridge club or a president here? If the latter, I’m not looking for touchy, feely. I’m looking for someone who is ready for the job and has proposed some workable solutions. Hillary has offered her ideas on infrastructure, going green, college education and holding corporate America accountable, among other things. Let’s have a debate on how those proposals stack up against Trump’s ideas, or the lack thereof.

Returning to the millennials, much has been made of Hillary’s failure to inspire them. Well, consider this, kids. In 1968, my generation had a similar conundrum. A peacenik prince named Gene McCarthy (our Bernie Sanders) appeared rather suddenly on the national political stage, only to have Bobby Kennedy jump into the race and steal McCarthy’s mantle. Then Bobby was assassinated and we ended up with Hubert Humphrey, who had the dubious distinction of being championed by party boss Mayor Daley at the ’68 Democratic convention. Humphrey even looked the part, a balding, egghead type who was further tarnished by his attachment to Johnson’s Vietnam War.

So the left mostly stayed home and we ended up with Richard Nixon. And how did that turn out.

The fact is, Hubert Humphrey was an infinitely decent man and a stalwart of the Progressive movement. He had championed civil rights long before President Kennedy and Bobby dared to touch the subject. You can never return and reengineer history, but looking back, I’d have taken my chances on a Humphrey presidency over a Nixon one, any day of the week.

The 2000 presidential campaign is equally instructive, and realize here that most millennials were too young to understand the import of Bush v Gore in real time. Like Hillary, Gore made a lot of gaffes. He wasn’t a natural on the campaign trail, like Bill or Obama.

So it all came down to Florida, where the ‘lefties’ found Gore too much a part of the past and voted for Ralph Nader. Bush won the election and how did that turn out?

This campaign we have Jill Stein and Gary Johnson, neither of whom are going to win this election. Donald Trump actually could, and you tell me that having Trump in the White House instead of Hillary makes no difference?

Frankly, when it comes to my leaders, I’ve had it up to here with so called inspiration. Yes, Bernie inspired, but so did Obama and eight years later, you see how little that translated into great legislative achievement. Beyond health care reform, Obama’s rhetoric was rarely matched with results. A recalcitrant Republican party can be blamed for much of that, but that’s just the point. Obama was dismal when it came to rubbing elbows with members of Congress and building the kind of alliances necessary to move his agenda forward. Nothing wrong with inspiration but you don’t get much done when you’re just preaching to the choir.

Ah, but Hillary will be an even more polarizing figure, you say? Perhaps, but she’s also proven herself apt at building the kind of alliances that Obama struggled so mightily to achieve. What you hear time and again from those who castigate Hillary publicly is that they found her quite reasonable in private and a workable partner when it came to forging bipartisan legislation.

You take inspiration. I’ll take forward looking vision. That’s what I really want in a candidate and believe Hillary has it. At first blush, vision and inspiration may appear to be inextricably linked but I would assert otherwise. Al Gore hardly inspired us in his 2000 presidential run, but he had vision. His work on the environment, among other things, ultimately proved that fact.

Would he have made a great president? We’ll never know but I’d bet my right leg he would have made a better statesman than candidate. Some people, like Gore and Hillary, simply aren’t designed to schmooze and pump flesh on the rope line.

If I fault Hillary anything, it’s her occasional lack of political courage. No doubt she was anticipating a run for president when she voted for the 2002 war authorization bill and believed that a ‘no’ vote would make her look weak on national security, weak in in general and unpatriotic. If your goal is to become the first female president, you already have a steep uphill climb. Looking tough seemed to be a shrewd move at the time. Then Obama came along, a purported peacenik, who in the end turned out to be more of a hawkish president than not. Hard to figure these things in advance, isn’t it?

Anyway, the damage was done and Hillary was saddled with the image of a politician who holds her finger to the wind. Okay, but if we are to condemn her for that, we will be obliged to condemn a great many of our esteemed leaders. Lincoln and Kennedy come to mind. A hundred years apart, the one arrived late to emancipation and the other to civil rights. Ditto Obama on gay rights. What we have here are men, and a woman, who understand that you first have to get elected before you can make your mark on history.

Was Hillary’s war authorization vote a profile in courage? No, but she was joined by a great many other men and women who were covering their asses at the time. Politics can be a very tawdry business. That is why you want a person with a firmly grounded set of beliefs. Those beliefs are a person’s rudder in difficult times and I believe Hillary, however flawed, is so grounded.

So, yes, I love Hillary Rodham Clinton, for all the reasons mentioned above. She’s tough. She’s a fighter. She’ll get stuff done but there’s more. I also see a very good soul behind that radiant smile of hers. I see a person who may be challenged at times as a candidate, but who has the fiber to be a great leader and stateswoman.

Of course, there’s also the prospect of electing our first woman president. I am proud to view every woman in this world as my equal and unapologetic in my zeal to see one of them sit in the Oval Office.

That Hillary has a chance to fulfill that destiny speaks for itself. The times favor her, sure, but face it. Until this moment in American history, no other woman has come even remotely close to being considered for the office. She’s worked for it. She deserves it and I intend to give her my vote enthusiastically.