CLIN­TON COULD GET WASH­ING­TON WORK­ING AGAIN

Chicago Sun-Times - - OPINION - Fol­low the Edi­to­rial Board on Twit­ter:@cste­d­i­to­ri­als

Hil­lary Clin­ton has been a pub­lic ser­vant all her adult life. She has been steeled by the fire of over-hyped scan­dals, learned the hard­way the wis­dom of build­ing bridges and de­vel­oped a prag­matic, feet-on-the-ground ap­proach to get­ting things done.

That might not sound like high praise to the most lib­eral wing of Clin­ton’s Demo­cratic Party, which has ral­lied be­hind the pie-in-the-sky agenda of Sen. Bernie San­ders, Clin­ton’s op­po­nent in the pri­mary race. Nor might this as­sess­ment of Clin­ton jibe with the views of right-wing zealotswho will for­ever mum­ble on about White­wa­ter, Trav­el­gate and Beng­hazi.

There’s no pleas­ing some folks.

But in Hil­lary Clin­ton we see the pos­si­bil­ity of not only the first woman Amer­i­can pres­i­dent, but also the first pres­i­dent in a while who might have the pro­fes­sional and per­sonal skills to get Wash­ing­ton back to real gov­ern­ing. Our en­dorse­ment goes to Clin­ton. It’s an easy call.

Over three decades, Hil­lary Clin­ton has viewed the job of pres­i­dent from an un­beat­able num­ber of an­gles. She has trained for the job from the in­side, as the wife and pub­lic pol­icy con­fi­dante to a re­mark­ably pop­u­lar, though flawed, pres­i­dent. She has con­sid­ered the job from the van­tage point of Capi­tol Hill, as a sen­a­tor from New York. She has come to un­der­stand howthe rest of theworld looks at the pres­i­dency and Amer­ica, as a glo­be­trot­ting sec­re­tary of state.

As first lady in the 1990s, Clin­ton took on one of the big­gest goals of her hus­band’s pres­i­dency, the cre­ation of a sin­gle-payer na­tional health in­sur­ance pro­gram, and failed mis­er­ably. Whole books have been writ­ten aboutwhat went wrong, but there is no doubt she did too lit­tle to get con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans on board.

Hil­lary be­ing Hil­lary, she learned from that. Best we can see, she’s been reach­ing across the aisle ever since, even when her hand gets slapped.

As first lady, Clin­ton learned that then-House Ma­jor­ity Whip Tom De­Lay, a highly par­ti­san Repub­li­can from Texas, was an adop­tive par­ent. She mined that nugget of in­for­ma­tion towork with De­Lay on adop­tion and foster care re­forms.

As a sen­a­tor, she part­nered on the is­sue of mil­i­tary ben­e­fits with an un­likely ally: then-Sen. Lindsey Gra­ham, a South Carolina Repub­li­can who pre­vi­ously had pushed for Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton’s im­peach­ment. Gra­ham later praised Sen. Clin­ton’s states­man­ship, telling Time mag­a­zine that she “has man­aged to build un­usual political al­liances on a va­ri­ety of is­sues with Repub­li­cans.”

Even for­mer Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Trent Lott, a con­ser­va­tive Repub­li­can from Mis­sis­sippi, told The Hill last year that Pres­i­dent Barack Obama “doesn’t like to deal with Congress.” But Clin­ton, he said, was a dif­fer­ent story.

“I think Hil­lary— I’mnot go­ing to be for her— but I think she­would be much bet­ter about reach­ing out and ac­tu­ally try­ing towork with the Congress,’’ Lott said.

On mat­ters of for­eign pol­icy, all in­di­ca­tions are Hil­lary Clin­ton would be more as­sertive than Obama, guided by a stronger con­vic­tion of means and ends. No­body’s look­ing for the re­turn of the hy­per-in­ter­ven­tion­ist for­eign pol­icy of Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush, and Clin­ton made the wrong call when she voted as a sen­a­tor for the­war in Iraq — a vote for which she has apol­o­gized. But there is, un­der Obama, a sense of for­eign pol­icy adrift. Clin­ton has come to know dozens of im­por­tant world lead­ers first­hand. She gets what drives them. Not since the first Pres­i­dent Bush would the United States have a com­man­der in chief who so fully ap­pre­ci­ates the nu­ances of in­ter­na­tional pol­i­tics.

Do­mes­ti­cally, Hil­lary Clin­ton could be very good for Chicago, even if she had not grown up in sub­ur­ban Park Ridge. She has long fa­vored the kind of com­mon-sense gun con­trols this city and coun­try des­per­ately need. She has been a cham­pion of civil rights, women’s is­sues and com­pre­hen­sive im­mi­gra­tion re­form, in­clud­ing the cre­ation of a path­way to cit­i­zen­ship. She op­poses pri­va­tiz­ing So­cial Se­cu­rity and be­lieves work­ing peo­ple should be guar­an­teed, by law, up to 12 weeks of paid fam­ily and med­i­cal leave.

Hil­lary Clin­ton has made her share of big mis­takes. She has had her blind spots. As sec­re­tary of state, it is re­gret­table that she did not push the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion to move swiftly and de­ci­sively to ad­dress the dan­ger­ous vac­uum left by Libya’s Moam­mar Gad­hafi. She­was also wrong as sec­re­tary of state to use a pri­vate com­puter server. And if she­wants to con­vince skep­tics she is not owned by Wall Street, she should re­lease the tran­scripts of speeches she gave to big banks in ex­change for hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars.

But aswe say, Clin­ton has a way of learn­ing. She moves on, takes stock and re­cal­i­brates. Un­like the Hil­lary Clin­ton of two decades ago who lec­tured a lit­tle too self-righ­teously about the virtues of uni­ver­sal health care, Clin­ton to­day seems much more in­clined to just get stuff done.

She lives in the re­al­world, which is the fun­da­men­tal dif­fer­ence be­tween her and San­ders in this race.

Where San­ders has called for what is surely im­pos­si­ble, Clin­ton has called for the tough but pos­si­ble.

San­ders would make col­lege free for all, what­ever the price and the im­pos­si­bil­ity of get­ting co­op­er­a­tion from Congress. Good luck with that. Clin­ton would cre­ate in­cen­tives for states to of­fer stu­dents free tu­ition at twoyear com­mu­nity col­leges and make it pos­si­ble to re­fi­nance stu­dent loans at lower in­ter­est rates.

San­ders has called for uni­ver­sal health care, ap­par­ently not notic­ing how ea­gerly Repub­li­cans are to kill what we’ve al­ready got, the Af­ford­able Care Act. Clin­ton knows the re­al­is­tic goal should be to pro­tect and im­prove Oba­macare.

Hil­lary Clin­ton is a skilled politi­cian, not an ide­o­logue. And she has earned the right to her party’s nom­i­na­tion time and again.

On mat­ters of for­eign pol­icy, all in­di­ca­tions are Hil­lary Clin­ton would be more as­sertive than Obama.

SCOTT OLSON/GETTY IM­AGES

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