I am so happy to see lifetime Republicans saying Hillary is the only choice that I often find myself letting pass the premise that accompanies many of their statements.  Namely, that she’s the lesser of two evils.  (“Hillary could be our worst president, but Trump could be our last president.”)

The truth is, Hillary has the potential to be a great president. She is, for starters, better prepared to assume office than anyone ever before her.  She’s seen the job close up as First Lady . . . Congress close up as a Senator . . . worked effectively with some Republican senators . . . knows and is respected by virtually all the world’s leaders.  She is beyond brilliant; steady and cautious; and has been focused her entire adult life on helping others.

Can any of the same things be said of Donald Trump?

The only world leader who seems to respect him is Vladimir Putin — who is playing him for a fool (and, arguably, trying to destabilize our democracy).

Meanwhile, Hillary brings with her a spouse beloved around the world, who led the country through eight years of peace and unparalleled prosperity.

Can any of that be said of Trump’s spouse?

As to all her “baggage” . . . so much of it is just manufactured, and the rest blown out of proportion. It’s how the game works, I guess. But it can have disastrous consequences.

Consider: Republicans persuaded the country that Al Gore said he invented the Internet (he never did say that — but actually was its champion in the Senate, for which we should be hugely grateful) . . . that he did something sinister by making 61 fundraising telephone calls without going across the street to a different office to make them (a transgression so minor and meaningless, based on an 1883 law enacted before there even were telephones, there was apparently “no controlling authority” as to whether it was even a transgression at all) . . . that he knowingly accepted money laundered through Buddhist monks (he did not) . . . that he falsely claimed to have been the model for Erich Segal’s Love Story (everything he said was “absolutely true,” and by the way — who cares?) . . .

. . . and so, with a little help from Justice Scalia, we got George W. Bush, the war in Iraq, raging deficits, a near depression, an eight-year delay in confronting climate change . . . and more.

Will the same playbook take a fundamentally spectacular, trustworthy candidate and give us President Donald Trump?

The Benghazi tragedy has been investigated endlessly, and the truth is: the Secretary did nothing wrong. The “commodities” saga was subjected to extensive scrutiny in a Pulitzer-prize-winning investigative journalist’s book and the truth was: he found nothing she had done wrong. And on and on.  There are dozens of these things — they just keep piling them on.

I can’t prove that in 40 years of public service she’s never done anything wrong, obviously, or that she has not sometimes been slow to own up to mistakes — not because I know anything damning, just because (a) it’s impossible to prove a negative and (b) she’s human.  But in context?  In proportion?  In the real world?

The real world is complicated.  But political campaigns and headline writers (and certainly Fox News) sweep that away.  So which is better?  For Hillary to have explained in detail why she “voted for the war”? (Which she did not. She voted to give Bush the authority, to enhance the credibility of his threats; but only on his assurance he would only use that authority as “a last resort” to protect us. Read more here.)

Or is it better to dispense with nuance and context and trade-offs and just say, as she has, “it was a mistake”?

Same with the emails (none of which was marked “classified” except for the three with the little C-marks — read more here).  Is it better to explain?  To defend, at least partially? To attempt to provide perspective?

Probably not: your critics will keep coming at you no matter what. (Look at the nine Benghazi hearings; look at the huge proportion of Republicans who still believe President Obama is a foreign-born Muslim.) And attempts to explain come across as defensive and evasive.

She’s not perfect; but like Barack Obama and Bill Clinton before her she’s certainly not “the lesser of two evils.” She’s terrific. And if she wins, she and the talented team she attracts will work, like Obama and Clinton, to create jobs (30 million under Clinton/Obama, fewer than 1 million under the last 12 Republican years) and to make our lives better.

 

 

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