The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Buckle Up

In yesterday's post, I indicated that I consider Donald Trump unfit to be president of the United States. As I noted in the conclusion of my piece, my position on Trump begs the question: Who is fit? Let's take a look.

Hillary Clinton provides us with a trifecta of problematic traits. Clinton is dishonest, she is corrupt, and she is incompetent. What a combination!

Her dishonesty is manifest, being demonstrated almost monthly with lies that are used to paper over her many unethical or corrupt practices. Whether it's her role in the Benghazi incident (her contention that the parents of the four Americans killed during the Islamic terrorist attack lied about her lie that it was all about a bad video) or her demonstrably false statements that her private server (a severe ethical lapse that demonstrates breathtaking irresponsibility) contained no classified materials (1800+ classified documents were uncovered), Clinton has trouble with the truth.

Her corrupt practices are more difficult to prove but are implied by the simple fact that she and her husband have developed a 9-digit net worth while in and out of public service but never in the private sector. They both creating an NGO called The Clinton Foundation and used it to enrich themselves. Taking in tens of millions in foreign money and insane amounts for "speaking fees," there is strong circumstantial evidence that Clinton enriched herself by granting favors to contributors while in office.

Her incompetence is easy to demonstrate. While senator she authored exactly zero important pieces of legislation and exhibited poll-driven flip flops on everything from the Iraq war to the effectiveness of the surge. While Secretary of State, she was author of the "Russian reset," the "Asian pivot," the Libyan incursion, and the underpinnings of the Iran deal. Every one of these represented catastrophically bad decisions, even worse policy, and horrendously bad results (think: the invasion of the Ukraine, Chinese aggressiveness in the South China sea, Libya as a failed state, now home to ISIS and al Qaeda, and Iran as a regional hegemon). Hillary Clinton is actually more unfit to be president than Donald Trump.

Ted Cruz is a demagogue and an ideologue—an especially bad combination when considering fitness for the Oval office. A compelling, albeit rather insipid speaker, his innate intelligence allows him to be convincing to those of like mind. Cruz has demonstrated that he cannot and will not compromise, that he does not play well with others. His views on social issues are extreme and his claim to be a "constitutional conservative" is hollow. Based on his brief record in the Senate he has authored no important legislation, is unable to work with members of his own party, not to mention Democrats, and is generally despised by a majority of congressman and senators in both parties. Not good for getting things done.

Bernie Sanders projects the image of a grandfatherly figure, but in reality, he is the true extremist in this year's crop of candidates. A "Democratic socialist" who is actually a cryto-communist, Sanders position on government intrusiveness, taxation, the economy, private enterprise, and government debt are truly extreme. His giveaway programs (free college and universal Medicare) are fantasy and his class warfare rhetoric is divisive and destructive at the same time. His positions on foreign policy are difficult to pin down, although he seems to parrot Barack Obama's predilection for embracing our adversaries and dissing our allies. He favors open borders, increased immigration from countries that have significant Islamist presence, and a lead-from-behind approach to our adversaries. To his credit, Sanders is truthful, but that alone in no way qualifies him to be president.

John Kasich exhibits almost every quality that is missing among Trump, Clinton, Cruz, and Sanders. An experienced politician with both executive and significant congressional experience, Kasich is a moderate who understands that the blue model of governance has failed, but can still work with Democrats to get things done. His positions on both domestic and foreign policy are rooted in reality. He is measured in his positions (unlike Trump); he seems less likely to be poll drive (unlike Clinton); he does not exhibit the characteristics of an ideologue (unlike Cruz) and he is not an extremist (unlike Sanders). Among the current crop of candidates, Kasich alone has the qualities that would make him a good president. He would, I think, beat Hillary Clinton rather easily in the general election and would prevail over Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren (if the Dems done feel the 'Bern'), if Hillary is, in fact, indicted out of the ongoing FBI investigation sponsored by the Obama DoJ.

But can Kasich win the GOP nomination? It's unlikely, and can only happen if there is an 'open' convention in which Trump and Cruz do not have enough delegates to win outright. Then again, an open convention could lead to one of the three Rs—Romney, Ryan, or even Rubio—all better options than Trump or Cruz and infinitely better for the country than Clinton or Sanders or Biden/Warren.

An open convention is becoming increasingly likely, so buckle up.