One Person’s Opinion


     Something Bernie Sanders said the other day keeps reverberating in my brain.  His contention that he has better judgement than Hillary Clinton, especially in the area of foreign policy, at first struck me as a bit presumptuous.  Obviously, Hillary has vastly more experience in dealing, “on the ground” with foreign affairs, something on which Bernie has not really focused except on the most important occasions such as the war in Iraq.  Meanwhile, Barack Obama, with even less experience on foreign affairs, offered the very same contention in his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.  In my opinion, all three of them probably possess the same degree of reasoning, approximately the same Intelligence quotients.  What is it then, that determines the difference in those qualities necessary to best lead a nation?  In my opinion, the qualities are integrity and the discipline to “do one's homework.”

     I believe that Hillary often times shows flashes of brilliance, but that she has a long history of failing to do her homework.  She did not do her homework on healthcare in the nineties, coming up with an ambitious pediatric healthcare plan for adults.  She took the highly questionable word of the bumbling Dick Cheney and George Bush, apparently doing absolutely no homework of her own before casually choosing to go to war in Iraq.   Even though she was not responsible for the tragedy at Benghazi (it appears that Darrell Issa and his cohorts callously interfered with funding for the defense of the facility), it would have been nice if she had known what was going on before poor Susan Rice became the scapegoat for the State Department’s ineptitude.  Hillary has been warned in the past about ”doing her homework.” 

     As for her problems with her private emails, is Hillary familiar with the illegal servers and emails flowing between the Bush White House and the nefarious Karl Rove- all of those emails  illegally destroyed?  How about Dick Cheney’s illegal, “classified” communications made legal by his buddy, President Bush, about which incompetent and sleazy U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, afraid he might have to indict the vice president for lying to a federal prosecutor, conveniently “forgot” to ask  Mr. Cheney?*  Was it “good judgement” that led Hillary to set up her private emails in such a questionable, even if legal, manner?  Or, was it the usual failure to do her homework?  Or, was it a case of political promiscuity, a feeling of political immunity that she and her husband seem to share?  In fact, if Hillary somehow loses either her bid for the nomination or for the presidency itself, I believe it will be because of her inability to separate herself from her foundation during and after her service as Secretary of State, as well as her greedy acceptance of huge fees for speeches before banking and Wall Street moguls.  Her political judgement as well as that of her husband often seems to be affected by a sense of privilege that is foreign to Mr. Sanders.  If I had millions of dollars in the bank already and I wanted so badly to be president, I might well speak before Wall Street and bankers, but like Arnold Palmer suggested to Tiger Woods, if you you don’t want the attention, then “give the money back,” that is, give it to charity.  Blaming her mistakes last time on her staff or the superdelegates instead of her husband’s choice of his inept poker buddy, failed Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe, to run her campaign, is typical Clinton “Noblesse Oblige.”  There should be no “royalty” in this country.

     Meanwhile, a case can be made against President Obama that although he is very deliberate, does his homework thoroughly and understands what he ought to do, that he too often follows the pollsters instead.  What other explanation is there for removing the last vestige of troops from Iraq, the last vestige of protection for the Sunnis from the Iranian government that his incompetent predecessors had installed in the country?  Does it take a rocket scientist to predict the invasion of ISIS to fill the void?  How is this so different from Hillary bowing to pressure from the polls in her choice for war in Iraq?  On paper Hillary is one one of the best prepared and talented candidates of all time, but can she win back the trust of voters?  Can she convince them that she really will do her homework in the future?  Can she take responsibility for mistakes?  After all, it’s what makes candidates human and likable isn’t it?

     As for Bernie Sanders, it is disingenuous to think that he has never made a political or legislative decision based on polls, but given his unique and individual career, certainly far fewer than anyone else who has served in the House or Senate for as long as he has.  Similarly, anyone impugning his integrity, will not find too many allies.  His judgement, I believe, is easily as good as and probably better than either Ms. Clinton's or Mr. Obama’s.  His integrity is probably out of reach of either of them or of any Republican candidate.  The enormous burden on Mr. Sanders is the homework that he and his staff must do in the coming weeks and months, briefing after briefing on foreign affairs and a detailed description of the mechanisms of Wall Street.  Does he have a staff that actually understands foreign policy and economics and does Bernie have the discipline and patience or the time to master the material?  Ideology will carry a candidate just so far until the reality of dealing with the actual human problems must be faced.

     The best part of the Democratic race for the 2016 presidential nominee: for a change, whoever wins will actually have had to earn it!


     U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald is famous for his incompetence.  It seemed that all he could  prosecute anyone for was “lying to a federal prosecutor.”  Of course, virtually anyone can be coerced into lying about some non legal matter which becomes a “crime” as soon as the “lie” is to a “federal prosecutor.”  Both Nixon and Clinton lied to federal prosecutors about highly unethical and embarrassing things for which they could not otherwise be prosecuted.  Of thirty nine mostly obvious counts against Illinois Governor Blagojevich, the only one that Fitzgerald sustained, of course, was “lying to a federal prosecutor.”  Subsequently, more competent prosecutors managed to convict the governor on dozens of the other charges originally brought by Fitzgerald.  Whether Fitzgerald purposely failed to question Mr. Cheney to protect him from lying or if it were out of incompetence, is up for question.  Instead, he successfully prosecuted Cheney’s chief of staff, Scooter Libby who “threw himself on his sword” for his boss- by “lying to a federal prosecutor.”


Al Finkelstein,  2/7/16