Chelsea 2028 more logical than Hillary 2016

Geopolitical notes from India

M D Nalapat

IN US politics, the Clinton machine is as formidable nationally as Chicago Mayor Richard Daley’s was in that city for the 21 years that he was its mayor, but the most consummate politician in the US, Bill Clinton (who would win against any comer in another Presidential election) may have erred in succumbing to Hillary Clinton’s obvious hunger to sit in the Oval Office as its lawful occupant. The eight years during which Clinton was President must have been difficult ones for Hillary, who is clearly the possessor of a formidable intellect and will, qualities that she has shown since the time her husband was the Governor of Arkansas.
For over a year, this columnist has been repeating that Donald Trump would cross the finishing line ahead of Hillary Clinton on November 8, a prediction that will be on test that day. Or, if Donald Trump has more public flashes when he thinks with his glands rather than his equally formidable brains, Hillary may win despite the litany of negatives noticed by those close to her, including the ferocious temper referred to by Trump during the September 27 debate between the two contestants. Either way, it would have been best for Bill to ensure that Hillary remained in the US Senate ( a lifetime seat for an individual of her calibre) the way Edward Kennedy did rather than resign and seek to burnish her biodata by getting appointed Secretary of State in what (during his first term at least) was only notionally an “Obama” administration.
Given the errors made under her watch, especially with reference to Russia and West Asia, that added paragraph in her bio has not helped much politically. Indeed, it is proving a handicap, with almost all the attacks on her based on events which took place while Hillary Clinton occupied that position. Although the FBI does not agree, there is certainly a conflict of interest between her role as Secretary of State in a context where President Obama deferred to her (although not to the degree to which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh deferred to Hillary’s friend Sonia Gandhi) and the multiple contributions from foreign sources that have flowed into the Clinton Foundation since she took up the job of US Secretary of State.
Amazingly, the “free” media in the US does not seem to have calculated whether there was a difference in degree between the level of donations received by the Clinton Foundation during the eight George W Bush years and the five years when Hillary served as Secretary of State. Given the Amateur Hour composition of Team Trump ( at least in his political foray), it comes as no surprise that they have not focussed more on the conflict of interest inherent in the collection of money by the Clinton Foundation from those with a direct stake in US policy, whether domestic or foreign. Those without the Teflon protective cover provided by the Clinton machine have gone to prison for similar actions, as indeed they have for being (deliberately?) careless enough to transmit top secret information with a bearing on national security through a private email server.
During Hillary Clinton’s peroration on cyber security during the Presidential poll debate, Trump could have asked how an individual found “careless” in such matters by even a house-trained FBI could be trusted to ensure cyber security. Instead, he allowed her spiel to pass, even while rising to every bait thrown his way by an opponent whose husband is among the most formidable politicians in the democratic world, including admitting that he bought cheaply houses that had been foreclosed and saw the paying of zero tax as almost a virtue. To counter the perception of him as a racist. Trump needed to show how several African-Americans reside in his properties and how many non-Caucasians the Trump family has as close friends.
Instead, he underlined through repetition the ungallant comments he had made two decades ago about a Latino beauty queen, who promptly surfaced on national television and paid back the insult with compound interest, in the process looking spectacular despite the efflux of time Donald Trump lost the first of three Presidential debates on points rather than getting a knockout blow. However, it is very likely that the event may in fact help rather than hurt him, the reason for this being the obviously rehearsed nature of Hillary Clinton’s responses, including her demure laughs and deadpan demeanour through most of the debate. Every word, every expression, looked practiced several times over, unlike Trump, who was clearly himself.
Would Chelsea Clinton or Bill Clinton have recognized the lady who was batting away her rival’s jab with the aplomb of a Steffi Graf? Would low level flunkeys of the Clintons have recognized this unflustered individual onstage with the temperamental person that Hillary Clinton is known to be in private? Just as an individual could be “too clever by half”, a debate performance may be “too perfect by half”, and turn off individuals rather than turning then on towards the voting booth. Bernie Sanders gave Hillary Clinton almost a free pass, focussing instead only on her Wall Street connection in a country where that street is not at the top of the list of the subjects discussed in families with low or moderate incomes.
Donald Trump is still on course to win, despite his failure on September 27 in New York to challenge Hillary Clinton effectively rather than petulantly. Had Bill Clinton his way, it is likely that Hillary Clinton would have remained a US Senator, while daughter Chelsea would have entered the House of Representatives, then a Governorship or a Senate seat, and finally the White House. Rather than husband and wife, that symbol of global pre-eminence is more within the reach of the daughter twelve years later taking over the job held during 1992-2001 by William Jefferson Clinton.
—The writer is Vice-Chair, Manipal Advanced Research Group, UNESCO Peace Chair & Professor of Geopolitics, Manipal University, Haryana State, India.

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