Sydney M. Williams
Thought of the Day
November 7, 2016
“That government is strongest of which every man feels himself a part.”
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
Opinion on Residence Act, 1790
A recent article in the “The Economist” was entitled “Milk Without the Cow:” Capitalism, in Putin’s understanding, is not about production, management and marketing. It is wheeling and dealing. It is not about workers and customers. It is about personal connections with regulators. It is finding and using loopholes in the law, or creating loopholes.” The article was from a book by Fiona Hill and Clifford Gaddy, “Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin.” I was struck by how closely those words describe the Clintons. They produce nothing – no consumer or industrial goods; no services like law or accounting; no hotels or casinos; they have created no patents or inventions. They do not manufacture, nor do they lend or invest money. They have not trod paths of entrepreneurs; yet they have become wealthy. In this, they are not alone. Public service has become a means to private wealth. But the Clintons have taken this model to new heights.
Truman once famously replied when offered a corporate board seat with a hefty salary: “You don’t want me. You want the office of the President, and that doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to the American people and it’s not for sale.” The Clintons have no such scruples. Sixteen years after leaving the Presidency, eight years after leaving the U.S. Senate and three and a half years after leaving the State Department, the Clintons have a net worth of $50 to $60 million, and maybe more. They have exchanged dollars for access. It is not policy or public service that drives them; it is greed.
The Clintons have used their Foundation to up the ante on “pay-to-play.” They introduce the well-off who want access and/or favors to the politically connected who provide them. In doing so, they enrich themselves. They have dealt with some of the world’s most oppressive dictators. Additionally, they have asked for and received upwards of $200,000 from colleges and universities for hour-long Pablum-like speeches – fees four times what colleges charge for tuition and four times the average family’s annual income. As “honorary chancellor” of Laureate International University, a for-profit university, Bill Clinton became the highest paid college official in the United States – $17.6 million over five years, for little or no work. The Clintons have been “bought” by Wall Street banks, in exchange for tax and regulatory favors. Since leaving the White House (“dead broke,” as Hillary later said), it has been a quest for money that has driven them. Hillary reminds me of Scarlett O’Hara in the final scene in “Gone With The Wind,” but without having suffered the deprivations Scarlett did: “If I have to lie, cheat or kill. As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again.” Substitute “poor” for “hungry” and you have Mrs. Clinton.
Trump would not be my first choice, nor even my second, third or fourth. He is narcissistic and uncouth. His language is abhorrent. He may have a sense of humor, but if he does it is well hidden. His words about foreign leaders and alliances are disturbing, but are they as damaging as the deeds done by the “experienced” Hillary Clinton and her boss, Barack Obama – the Russian reset, Libya, Iran, Syria, Iraq, Israel, China and the Philippines? Trump is without an ideology. He has bounced from one political party to the other. He does, though, appeal to passions, with simple, emotional and repetitive words and phrases. He knows how pay-to-play works, because he has paid to play. He is interested in fixing things that don’t work, enabling and making processes more efficient, including government. To those who say he is homophobic, racist or misogynist, I say hogwash. His actions belie those utterances, for he has employed thousands of people in his businesses, including women, African-Americans, Muslims and Hispanics. He is pragmatic. He expects results, but race, sex, religion or gender don’t enter the equation in terms of his expectations from employees. It is ability and a willingness to work hard that he rewards.
Trump has been dissected by the press. Not a day passes without some negative article on the front pages of the New York Times, the Washington Post, or some other mainstream paper, whether it is a woman who claimed to be groped fifteen years ago, the fact he took advantage of a tax rule now abandoned, or that he fibbed about math when constructing one of his buildings. Hillary, on the other hand and despite her far-leftist leanings, is presented as a centrist, a conciliator, something not true. The attacks against Trump are ad hominem – aimed at the man, not at issues.
In the end, my decision is easy. I will vote for Trump. This is in spite of his faults, which I could reel off with as much alacrity as Clinton’s most fervent supporter, and with as much fervor as the most ardent “anti-Trumper.” (However, in making my decision, I had to reassure my grand-dog ‘Bailey,’ that a Trump’s victory would not mean that she, a rescue dog, would be sent back to Virginia:-)!) I will not vote for Trump enthusiastically, but the alternative is worse. Hillary, as Holman Jenkins recently wrote in The Wall Street Journal, has become the “unsafe” candidate. She may be elected tomorrow, and President Obama might pardon her, but the charges against her will hang over her head like the sword of Damocles. The political air would be poisoned, as it would be if Trump prevailed. Keep in mind, the sanctimony of the hard-left, like the obtuseness of the hard-right, leaves no room for tolerance. I could have taken the coward’s way out and written in my wife’s name. But that would be side-stepping the reality of the awful choice we have. The next President will either be Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.
While many factors concern me: that Hillary would continue the path we are on, of ever-greater government interference and mandates, unaccountable federal agencies, an anemic economic recovery, dissonant foreign relations, refusing to call al Qaeda by name, and a phony liberal social program that has not helped those it claims to help – inequality, inner-city public schools, poverty, affordable and quality healthcare, an easing of racial tensions. I thought of her e-mail scandals, and the lies and corruption that form the foundation of the Clintons’ lives. But the deciding event for me was something I cannot exorcise from my mind. It was at Andrews Air Force Base in September 2012. The Presidential election was tightening. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met the plane carrying the bodies of the four Americans killed in Benghazi, killed in the service of their country – her country – my country – your country. She spoke to the families to acknowledge the ultimate sacrifice they had made. But when she explained the cause of the firefight in which they had died, she lied. She did so cynically and knowingly. It was a despicable, cowardly and, in my opinion, unforgiveable act. Her claim spoke volumes about her character – and character counts. Hillary Clinton should not be given the honor and responsibility of the Presidency of the United States.
Three things I know: None of us can see the future; there is much we don’t know, and the sun will come up tomorrow. Our duty as citizens is to make a decision based on an imperfect analysis of the incomplete information we have. I have made mine. Yours may be different, and I respect whatever you decide. While your inclination may be to sit this one out, don’t. As Thomas Jefferson intimated in the quote at the top of this page, a democracy only works when citizens exercise their right, their privilege and their duty to vote. We are a nation of myriad peoples from countries all around the world. We are liberal and conservative; we are rich and poor; we are educated and uneducated; we are men and women, gay and straight; we are black, white and all colors in between; we come from different cultures and religions. Whether we are a melting pot or a mosaic, we are Americans. Our leaders should be honest and forthright. With government spending 35% of GDP, the opportunity for graft and corruption is limitless. Those that govern need to be watched and they need to be held accountable. When they are not, we should toss them out. When they are, we should reward them with another term. The choice is yours. I have made mine.