Vail Daily column: The credibility of the nation
June 1, 2014
When Barack Obama burst upon the national political scene in 2008 he was the favored son of the media. What else can explain how a first-term senator with no obvious civic or legislative accomplishments was received here and abroad as equal parts conquering hero and rock star?
The streets of Chicago weren't made safer by community organizer Obama. The educational system in Illinois worsened and the state descended further into debt while he served as state senator there. But there isn't a wisp of evidence of any progressive legislation authored by former U.S. Sen. Obama.
The American media wanted a black president and along came a well-spoken, charismatic, handsome black man who stepped onto the stage at just the right moment in time.
On a personal level, I felt Mr. Obama was too liberal and too inexperienced, but readily admit to telling friends and colleagues prior to the election that a black president would be a good thing for America.
I have a similar view about a potential woman president; and history is replete with outstanding female leaders. Joan of Arc, Susan B. Anthony, Golda Meir, Indira Gandi and Margaret Thatcher to name a few.
Under the magnifying glass of historical perspective, each of these women displayed extraordinary leadership; and each in her own way shaped history and left their country and the world a better place.
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Which brings me to the question of the next presidential election. No official announcements have been made, but the jockeying for position, the exploratory committees and the fund-raising has already begun.
Atop the list of potential democratic candidates is, of course, Hillary Clinton. The former first lady is already the darling of much of the media; and analogous to what occurred with then-Sen. Obama, the media will drive the notion that "it's time to elect a woman president."
The doubters about media complicity in endorsing Clinton should for example look at the disparity between number of stories and airtime given to Chris Christie's role in Bridge-gate versus Clinton's role in Benghazi — the former was front page news for weeks while the latter has been down-played.
When her husband was president, Clinton had a number of excellent ideas regarding the health care problems in this country. Her failure to get Hillarycare passed into law arose more from her method than substance. But Clinton is smart, a quick study and seldom makes the same mistake twice.
On domestic issues she's a liberal Democrat and will appeal to millions on ideological grounds, but the events taking place all around the globe should cause thoughtful voters to examine closely Clinton's leadership and foreign policy capacity.
Each day Putin reminds us of the results of her much-ballyhooed reset with the Russians; a foray epitomized by the infamous red plastic "Peregruzka Button" then-Secretary of State Clinton gave Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
During the 2008 primaries, Clinton talked about the 3 a.m. phone call; but she took that call on Sept. 11, 2012, when terrorists predictably attacked our mission in Benghazi, and far too many questions remain long after the event.
But even if you believe this is a story for Fox News only the following is undeniable: During her four years as Secretary of State, our standing in the Muslim world worsened considerably, Iran is closer to developing a nuclear weapon, the slaughter in Syria continues, the Israelis and Palestinians are further apart and the United States wields less "soft power" (a Clinton term) and has less diplomatic influence in the world than at any time since 1939.
But perhaps the most germane question voters should ask themselves when evaluating Clinton's abilities on the international stage is, "Do our allies trust us and do our adversaries fear us more or less as a result of her four years as Secretary of State?"
When the 2016 campaigning begins, Clinton will claim international credentials; but I have yet to find anyone who can provide a single foreign policy accomplishment attributable to her during her tenure at Secretary of State. If any Vail Daily reader can name just one, then please email Don Rogers at firstname.lastname@example.org. (No tangents please, just name one accomplishment she had as Secretary of State.)
Clinton is formidable; she has resources, she's astute and she's a master politician. But we mustn't lose sight that the president of the United States is the custodian of the nation's credibility — let me repeat that — the president of the United States is the custodian of the nation's credibility — and predicated upon her four years as secretary of state, clear-thinking individuals should be compelled to question her ability to fulfill that role, especially in the foreign policy arena.
Butch Mazzuca, of Edwards, writes regularly for the Vail Daily. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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