Dilbert on the Great Persuader
Who would you trust more to be America's commander-in-chief, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump?
The correct answer, of course — where by "correct" I mean the one that your fellow New York Times readers and CNN watchers would regard as correct — is Hillary Clinton. That is indisputably the received wisdom. But is it true?
The case against Donald Trump in this regard comes down to two things: 1) his ignorance of world and military affairs and 2) his temperament.
Let's grant the former. Item: it was pretty clear during that primary debate that he had at best a sketchy grasp of what America's nuclear triad is.
It took me aback, I admit. But here's the thing. He now knows all about it. Indeed, in the ensuing months I'd wager that Donald Trump has learned a lot of things. Ignorance is remediable. Is temperament?
That's a more difficult question. Part of the brief against Donald Trump has been, in the largest sense, aesthetic. He is vulgar. He is unscrupulous. He is thin-skinned.
It is this last quality — Trump's over-developed sense of amour propre — that has people worried.
I have shared those worries. But they have been mitigated, if not yet been totally dispelled, by Trump's behavior these past weeks. In his speeches, his rallies, his media appearances, he has seemed to me to grow more circumspect, more good humored, more flexible and resilient than before.
And then there is Hillary Clinton. The brief for her is that she has the "experience" to be commander-in-chief.
But what, when you come down to it, does that experience consist of? That she was a senator? She accomplished exactly nothing in that role. That she was secretary of State? What did she do in that job — apart, I mean, from jeopardizing America's secrets by deploying a homebrew email server for all of her governmental communications?
She did a lot of globe-trotting, it is true, But as Carly Fiorina said this summer, "Flying is an activity, not an accomplishment."
There are some who say she is "more hawkish" than Obama and would be a better custodian of America's interests than he has been or than Trump would be.
I don't see it. Look at the places in the world where she could be said to have had some influence: Syria? a disaster. Egypt: teetering on collapse. Libya? Even to say the name is to despair. And how about our relations with our rivals, with Russia, say, or with China or Iran? Obama may bear the lion's share of the responsibility for those serial disasters, but she was America's first diplomat during his entire first term.
Then there is the state of our relations with our friends: how's that proceeded? Are relations with the UK, with Israel, with Europe better now than before Hillary was secretary of State? To ask the question is to answer it.
Then there is the ultimate question: Who would you trust more with the awesome responsibility of America's nuclear arsenal?
Again, the "correct" answer is Hillary. But why?