Politics & Policy

Bernie and Hillary Shouldn’t Be Allowed Near the Oval Office

Sanders and Clinton at the Democatic debate in Miami, Fla. (Joe Raedle/Getty)
Clinton, Sanders, and their qualifications

Hillary Rodham Clinton says Bernie Sanders is not qualified to be president. Senator Sanders says Mrs. Clinton is not qualified to be president. Both of them are correct, but there’s a bit more to the question.

Mrs. Clinton is a lifelong political grifter who poses as a feminist champion while riding on the coattails of her husband, an old-fashioned intern-diddling patriarchal chauvinist who just happens to have been the most gifted politician of his generation before his decline to his current diminished state. Like that of Michelle Obama, Mrs. Clinton’s so-called career in the private sector and in activism rose in neatly incremental tandem with her husband’s elevation through the ranks of political office. If you believe Mrs. Obama was being paid three-hundred grand-plus for vaguely defined administrative work or that Mrs. Clinton’s legal and cattle-futures-trading careers thrived without their patrons taking notice of the vast political power accumulated by their husbands, you are a naïf.

Mrs. Clinton over the years did successfully exploit her marriage to a powerful and vile man into two notable positions of her own: senator from New York and secretary of state. As a senator, she was — at best — undistinguished, merely punching the clock as she prepared to run for the presidency. Unfortunately for her, an equally ambitious nobody senator from Illinois was following the same program, and he is a better politician than she is. As secretary of state, Mrs. Clinton was catastrophic: Our allies were alienated, our enemies emboldened, our diplomats abroad slaughtered like livestock. Our national reputation is in tatters and our international prestige greatly diminished, thanks in no small part to her incompetence and that of the president she served.

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On top of that, she managed to violate a half-dozen national-security statutes, a fact for which she very well may, despite the best efforts of Obama’s Department of so-called Justice, face criminal charges.

What are her other qualifications for the office? Earning $6,000 a minute giving speeches to investment bankers? Sanctimony?

Charm?

Please.

#share#Senator Sanders’s own thoroughly bonkers curriculum vitae is hardly more impressive. He doesn’t seem to have done much of anything at all with his life until he entered politics full time in his forties. He is the author of a great deal of political commentary that might be charitably described — charitably! — as lighthearted meditations on the erotic potential of gang rape. He has forwarded daft theories that women suffer from cancers of the reproductive system because of orgasmic insufficiency. His pornographic imagination — Fifty Shades of Red — is some creepy stuff, indeed. He is in thrall to the usual lifestyle-leftist terrors about GMO foods and the like.

Sanders doesn’t seem to have done much of anything at all with his life until entered politics full-time in his forties.

Senator Sanders presents himself as the great scourge of Wall Street and the financial sector. But examine his actual legislative record and you will find almost nothing of any substance proffered on the subject. Until the financial crisis of 2008–09, his big idea on banking reform was — sound the victorious trump! — putting caps on the fees banks charge for cash withdrawals at ATMs. Asked by the editorial board of the New York Daily News — not exactly a bunch of raving right-wingers — about his stated desire to break up American financial institutions, and specifically about what legal authority a president might have to do such a thing, Sanders was unable to name a single law, provision, or proposal empowering him to do what he proposes. He seemed to believe that the president could simply order the Federal Reserve — an independent institution — to do so, and, when challenged about whether a president has that legal authority, whimpered, “Well, I believe you do.” I’d bet a fair sum of money that the man who proposes to revamp the rules under which American finance is conducted could not explain what a derivative is or how a credit-default swap works.

Hell, I’m surprised he has a checking account.

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If you’re curious about how this is going to unfold, I recommend reading Michael A. Lindenberger’s utterly craven assessment of the kerfuffle in the Dallas Morning News. Lindenberger insists that Senator Sanders should retract his criticism of Mrs. Clinton and apologize. That Mrs. Clinton has made the same claim about Senator Sanders apparently merits no apology. Lindenberger anticipates Mrs. Clinton’s own first line of defense — cries of sexism — writing: “Women have heard this line long enough.” As if the fact that some women (mainly female political allies of Mrs. Clinton) find a line of criticism displeasing means the criticism itself is invalid. Sure, Senator Clinton voted for an Iraq War that good progressives such as Michael Lindenberger, Senator Sanders, and Mrs. Clinton herself now consider to have been a foreign-policy disaster of world-historic proportions, yet Lindenberger insists that it is somehow unfair to criticize Mrs. Clinton for “a 13-year-old vote on the war.”

But there is no such thing as a free war, and wrongheaded military decisions do not mellow with time like a new Bordeaux with too much bite. Mrs. Clinton has had many opportunities to exercise her judgment and her keen diplomatic acumen. The results of that are all too plain.

Before the emergence of Bill Clinton in 1992, Democrats feared with good cause that the immense popularity of Ronald Reagan and the roaring economic success of those years would shut them out of the White House for a generation. In terms of qualifications for the office, George H. W. Bush had the best résumé since Dwight Eisenhower, arguably a better one. But no one really cares about qualifications. Bill Clinton showed Democrats how to beat better Republicans, and Mrs. Clinton’s entire subsequent political career has been nothing more than a tribute to the victories of her husband, an old-fashioned, back-slapping, horse-trading politician in the mold of Lyndon Johnson and William Fulbright, Bill Clinton’s awful, segregationist mentor. She doesn’t have qualifications: She has a reserved first-class seat on some truly excellent coattails and a great many stamps on her passport.

#related#Bernie Sanders’s political career has been something like an organic hobby-garden that suddenly overgrows its plot. He was mayor of Burlington, Vt., essentially a retirement home for addled hippies with a population less numerous than the membership of Lakewood Church in Houston. He is a practitioner of the politics of conspiracy theory and class envy, a professed socialist who doesn’t know the first thing about the laws and regulations relevant to the issues he says are most important to him. He is innumerate and economically illiterate, and about one step removed from walking down Pennsylvania Avenue in a sandwich board. His main qualification is that he is not Hillary Rodham Clinton, which is a good thing to be in a party whose most energetic members are sick to death of Clinton Inc. and whose political infrastructure is divided between an ascendant Obama faction and a moribund Clinton faction.

Those, in brief, are the qualifications of Mrs. Clinton and Senator Sanders. White House? She’s more qualified for a jailhouse, and he for a madhouse.

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