Choos­ing the pres­i­dent

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

There’s noth­ing new un­der the sun, as Ec­cle­si­astes re­minds us, but this pres­i­den­tial elec­tion cam­paign comes close. Rarely if ever have both par­ties nom­i­nated can­di­dates who in­vite so much anger, frus­tra­tion, in­dif­fer­ence and even con­tempt.

One can­di­date is painted by a one-party me­dia as a de­praved bil­lion­aire with­out an eth­i­cal core, a shady busi­ness­man, an abuser of women and a cor­rupter of the cap­i­tal­ist sys­tem that ac­corded him great wealth and un­usual priv­i­lege. The other can­di­date is a crea­ture of pol­i­tics gone rot­ten and ran­cid, the ul­ti­mate “wife of,” a woman of some po­lit­i­cal ac­com­plish­ment and much cor­rup­tion who only barely es­caped pros­e­cu­tion and prison for be­tray­ing the na­tion’s se­cu­rity se­crets.

Nev­er­the­less, within a fort­night one of th­ese can­di­dates will be elected pres­i­dent of the United States and be­come the undis­puted leader of the free world. Elec­tion Day, tra­di­tion­ally a day of cel­e­bra­tion of the ul­ti­mate ex­er­cise of democ­racy, will this year be a day of lamen­ta­tion for what might have been, what should have been, what could have been.

Don­ald Trump is an un­ex­pected can­di­date, who ar­rived on the scene al­most two years ago just as the Repub­li­can Party set about choos­ing from a re­mark­able wealth of prospec­tive nom­i­nees, in­clud­ing gover­nors, sen­a­tors, a distin­guished neu­ro­sur­geon and ti­tans of busi­ness and doc­tors of the econ­omy. Mr. Trump dom­i­nated the field from the be­gin­ning.

Bereft of the eru­di­tion and pol­ish ex­pected of a can­di­date for pres­i­dent of the United States, he of­fered in­stead en­ter­tain­ing blus­ter and an abra­sive per­son­al­ity that quickly per­suaded mil­lions of Repub­li­cans that he could, and would, chal­lenge the po­lit­i­cally cor­rect or­tho­doxy that was smoth­er­ing the will, the spirit and sti­fling the in­dus­try and en­ter­prise that made Amer­ica the envy, the hope and the in­spi­ra­tion of the world. Through a long and ex­haust­ing sea­son of bru­tal pri­maries he won more votes than any Repub­li­can can­di­date had done be­fore him.

Th­ese vot­ers were en­thralled that at last the Repub­li­cans had pro­duced a can­di­date ea­ger to go to take-no­pris­on­ers war against the Democrats, per­suaded that he would not re­treat, as Repub­li­can can­di­dates of­ten do, to the com­fort of their mantra of “vote Repub­li­can, we’re not as bad as you think.”

Mil­lions of his fol­low­ers for­gave his vul­gar­ity and coarse­ness of man­ner be­cause they un­der­stood that some­times a rough jus­tice is re­quired to cor­rect long-set­tled in­jus­tice. Harder to for­give is Mr. Trump’s fre­quent los­ing fo­cus on the stump and stray­ing from mes­sage, the in­evitable weak­ness of a can­di­date with no ex­pe­ri­ence in the rough and tum­ble of a pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. He oc­ca­sion­ally for­gets that he’s not run­ning against a judge of Mex­i­can an­ces­try whom he re­gards as un­fair to him, a beauty queen who al­lowed her­self to gain a few un­nec­es­sary pounds, or the sel­f­righ­teous Repub­li­can elites so ea­ger to give com­fort and as­sis­tance to his op­po­nent. He’s run­ning against Hil­lary Clin­ton, whose record over 30 years is one of greed, avarice and ir­re­spon­si­bil­ity. He some­times for­gets that “it’s Hil­lary, stupid.”

But as the cam­paign moves into the home­stretch, Mr. Trump demon­strates re­newed en­ergy, and has fought Hil­lary Clin­ton, the elites and an ever-more an­gry me­dia to a draw, as mea­sured by sev­eral usu­ally re­li­able pub­lic-opin­ion polls. The big news­pa­pers and tele­vi­sion net­works, con­fi­dent of Demo­cratic vic­tory but des­per­ate in their anger that Don­ald Trump is still stand­ing, cry that the race is over. But it’s not, and their des­per­ate rage demon­strates that they know it.

Don­ald Trump, im­per­fect though he is, has all the right en­e­mies: the pun­dits, the “so­cial sci­en­tists,” the Belt­way in­sid­ers, the aca­demics and the right­eous mon­gers of failed poli­cies. Hil­lary Clin­ton has all the wrong friends — the pun­dits, aca­demics and in­sid­ers hop­ing to hitch a ride on a new gravy train. The stink from her 30 years in pol­i­tics, which a gen­er­ous ob­server del­i­cately calls “a thick fog of im­pro­pri­ety,” touches and stains ev­ery­one around her. New Wik­iLeaks dis­clo­sures of her email traf­fic re­veal how it was Pres­i­dent Obama and his Jus­tice Depart­ment, not the FBI, who made the de­ci­sion not to pros­e­cute her, as oth­ers be­fore her were mer­ci­lessly pros­e­cuted for leak­ing se­cu­rity se­crets.

Pres­i­dent Obama said he learned of her pri­vate email server “from the news­pa­pers,” but the new Wik­iLeaks dis­clo­sures re­veal that the pres­i­dent him­self used a pri­vate alias to send emails to Hil­lary, fear­ful that any charges filed against her would have im­pli­cated him.

Hil­lary Clin­ton has left an un­bro­ken trail of cor­rup­tion from her 16 years in Arkansas for­ward to the White House. Scan­dal after scan­dal has marked the trail, from fir­ing the White House travel of­fice staff to give their jobs to her friends, to loot­ing the White House of fur­ni­ture and fur­nish­ings on the fam­ily’s de­par­ture from 1600 Penn­syl­va­nia Av­enue.

Dur­ing her hus­band’s ad­min­is­tra­tion, when Hil­lary was oc­ca­sion­ally re­garded as a “co-pres­i­dent” by virtue of Bill’s fa­mous in­vi­ta­tion to “buy one, get one free,” there were IRS au­dits of the Clin­ton “en­e­mies,” the col­lec­tion of files on other pre­sumed “en­e­mies,” the sale of Amer­i­can tech­nol­ogy se­crets to China through Amer­i­can com­pa­nies that had do­nated mil­lions to Clin­ton causes, the en­abling of Bill’s abuse and worse of a pro­ces­sion of women at the White House. Fi­nally, there are the con­tin­u­ing dis­clo­sures of emails that de­scribe the breadth and depth of scan­dal and be­trayal.

“Un­for­tu­nately,” Marco Ru­bio told a tele­vi­sion in­ter­viewer ear­lier this week, “both un­der her hus­band’s pres­i­dency, her time in the Depart­ment of State, her cam­paign for the pres­i­dent [in 2008], and now, there’s this cloud of con­stant scan­dal and things that dis­tract us from the core is­sues.”

Even friends who try to say some­thing nice about her do it war­ily. The New York Times and The Wash­ing­ton Post, her chief en­ablers in the main­stream me­dia, en­dorsed her as ex­pected, but with telling caveats. “Mrs. Clin­ton’s oc­ca­sional mis­steps, com­bined with at­tacks on her trust­wor­thi­ness,” The New York Times said, “have dis­torted her char­ac­ter.” The Wash­ing­ton Post wrote be­tween the lines with even darker ink: “No elec­tion is with­out risk. The big­gest worry about a Clin­ton pres­i­dency, in our view, is the sphere where she does not seem to have learned the right lessons, namely open­ness and ac­count­abil­ity.”

The stakes are ex­cep­tion­ally high. The di­rec­tion of the U.S. Supreme Court, given her hos­til­ity to the First and Sec­ond Amend­ments, and per­haps the very se­cu­rity of the na­tion, hang in the bal­ance. The strength of a democ­racy is the con­fi­dence that the peo­ple will, with God’s help, cut through the clut­ter of lies, de­ceit and ob­fus­ca­tion and make the right choice of leader. The choice this year is dif­fi­cult, but a ca­sual ex­am­i­na­tion of the ev­i­dence per­suades mil­lions of Amer­i­cans that there can be but one choice. We are con­fi­dent the peo­ple, in their na­tive wis­dom, will make the right choice, in word and deed, loud and clear.

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