Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hillary Clinton - Fool Me Twice, Shame on Me

Somewhere along the way our concept of a qualified person became horribly skewed.  Reputations used to be something built upon achievement.   Today, perception is more important than tangible results.  Strangely, we have begun to place our faith in people who have done nothing to deserve it.  An unsubstantiated persona of prominence reigns supreme when we pick our leaders.  With great fanfare and a sense of inevitability we hold them up as legends in their own time.  Since none of them have done anything worthy of this distinction, the story’s unhappy ending is easily foreseen but apparently just as easily ignored.

In 2008, we elected our first African-American president.  It was hailed as a turning point in our country’s history.  We collectively patted ourselves on the back as we had finally reached the point where we could look past skin color even when electing our national leader.  It was a hollow victory though.  In the effort to be better we completely missed the point and went from one end of the spectrum to the other.  The liability of the past became the decisive advantage of the present.  Barack Obama was not a qualified candidate dismissed because of his skin; he was an unqualified candidate artificially elevated to victory because of his skin.  In our exuberance to make amends for past transgressions we ran rough shod over the Promised Land where we consider only those traits that actually impact a person’s chances of success.  Regardless of it being a detriment or benefit if either is the result of skin color it is racism.  The election of Barack Obama did not erase racism it was the product of it.  No new societal plateau was reached.  The sole result was that we elected a man president that lacked the necessary experience and leadership.   We naively dismissed our electoral responsibility to select a competent leader in exchange for the false claim of being a better country.  We made a monumental decision based almost entirely on a variable that had absolutely no impact on his ability to be successful.  What we cared about most, mattered least.  With the truly important criteria ignored it is no surprise we have empowered an incompetent administration.

The only virtue of a mistake is that it reveals what not to do.  This is why it is so maddening when this only positive aspect is ignored and the error is repeated.  A chance at enlightenment reduced to nothing more than an exercise in futility.  Though it seems to be an accepted explanation recently, ignorance is not excuse.  But here we are again, on the doorstep of making yet another mistake in selecting our national leader.  Historic status seems to be a trump card to such passé things as legitimate qualifications and experience.  Why elect someone with a professional foundation that enables them to have a fighting chance in this unparalleled position by building on their resume of leadership and achievement when you can feel like you have made up for some societal injustice?  Ironically in the effort to address the discrimination, whether it is racism in the last two presidential elections or sexism in the upcoming presidential election, the offense is propagated because it becomes the sole criteria in the voting decision.  The candidate is lost to the cause, but the elected individual is what must govern after the election is over.  Perhaps we will be able console ourselves with the idea that we have broken through the glass ceiling, even if the steep price is watching our nation descend further into the flames of irrelevance under the direction of another incompetent president.

Time and again people sing the praises of Hillary Clinton.  Completely baseless proclamations of her inherent greatness incite déjà vu.  Though she has more experience at the national level of government than Barack Obama did when he was first elected to the White House, that doesn't mean much.  What has she done with these golden and undeserved opportunities to prove she is among those chosen few capable of being the leader of the free world?  Eight years in the Senate and four years as Secretary of State resulted in nothing of distinction.  Being a place holder is not an accomplishment and provides no validation that she is ready for the highest office in the land.  A person’s promotion potential is best based on past performance while in a lower role.  Use this criterion on Secretary Clinton’s time in the US Senate and State Department and a ringing endorsement is simply not plausible for anyone with any semblance of impartiality.  Ask anyone, including her, and even the staunchest supporter with the most generous outlook comes up wanting when questioned about achievements while in governmental office.  Why is it that we become so imprudent once we decide it is time to topple a past ignorance?  So anxious to prove we have liberated our society from a past mistake that we foolishly forget to discerningly evaluate the one bestowed with the awesome burden of being the pioneer.  Being the first is not for the faint of heart or those lacking in skill.  Fair or not you must be exceptional when leading the way into a new frontier.   Our country is filled with women that have a legitimate chance at being excellent presidents, with resumes littered with feats of professional achievement and effective leadership.  The interesting part is that Hillary Clinton is not among this group and yet sadly for reasons unknown she is the one so many have pinned their hopes on.

Secretary Clinton gladly accepts the title of strong woman.  An undeserved accolade that is easily toppled by the fact that her notoriety is nothing more than a byproduct of her husband’s eight years in the Oval Office.  Additional evidence comes from the very public act of marital betrayal that still was not enough for her to rightly cast off her adulterous husband because she knew his legacy was her political meal ticket.  Strong women don’t stand by their man when they violate the intimate trust that is the basis of a true marriage.  The first female president will need to be strong as the position demands it.  She will need to be a person that has faced the test of trial by fire and passed, creating her own legacy based upon her own achievements, not someone whose reputation is the product of marital association. 

What is in a name?  For Hillary the answer is everything.  She has nothing else.  Ironically she kept her maiden name in an effort to establish herself as her own woman only now to have to completely rely upon her married name for a chance at her Holy Grail.  Many of Hillary’s supporters have fooled themselves into believing the influence that the Clinton name now carries, especially in Democratic circles, is the result of Bill and Hillary’s combined success. Truth is the Clinton name is not a product of Hillary; it is a product of Bill.  A spouse’s support is a powerful thing, but it does not mean that the pair is interchangeable.  Facts are that only Bill was a five time governor of Arkansas and two term President of the United States.  Hillary did not attain elected office until after her husband’s presidency.  The power of the Clinton name is that it evokes fond memories of more prosperous times.  Though electing someone with the same last name will not lead to the same result, that doesn't stop fools from hoping. 

There is no position that compares to the Presidency of the United States, and expectations for a historical president are elevated still.  This means that success demands an extraordinary woman.  Without any basis, Hillary Clinton has been anointed by many as this extraordinary woman.  If we make the mistake of buying into this and electing her I’m sure we will all pat ourselves on the back again as we erroneously believe we have knocked out another ism.   The presidency should be the culmination of a professional life that is the embodiment of leadership, achievement and tangible results.  The person should have a laundry list of examples where they have proven their mettle in dealing with a multitude of conditions and challenges.  The presidency is not a position for pretenders and it is not a place to make a social stand.  We should not elect people to check off a box, we should elect them because they are the best qualified regardless of race, gender, religion, or political party.  We already made the mistake of electing an unqualified candidate because of reasons that had no bearing on his ability to succeed.  Let us not make the same mistake again.  We are a nation loaded with talented leaders capable of being president, and they come in all races and both genders.  If one removes emotion and logically looks at the professional life of Hillary Rodham Clinton they will clearly see that she, just like Barack Obama, simply isn't one of them. 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Independence Day

Two hundred thirty-eight years ago yesterday greatness was born.  A nation forged in revolution not just against the rule of an empire, but against an accepted fate devoid of choice.  Thirteen colonies united in the defiant cause to cast off the oppression that pervaded the old world.  An audacious Declaration of Independence boldly proclaimed self-determination as an inalienable right of all.  Centuries of darkness were swept away as the light of a new beacon of hope was ignited.  The new world was no longer just a geographic term it was now a legitimate expectation of a better life guided by one’s own hand.  Humankind had finally been liberated from its own self-imposed bonds and the time had come to see what we were truly capable of.  A nation like none before it defied overwhelming odds and found a way to not only survive but prosper and flourish as the world’s greatest creation. 

America is truly exceptional.  To deny this is a fool’s errand for the body of achievement we have amassed in our short existence is simply unparalleled.  Two hundred thirty-eight years to rise from colonies to world super power has no explanation other than we are a nation of people unlike any this world has ever seen.  Our democratic republic was the creation of genius.  Its promise of freedom and opportunity speaks to a primal human desire and in doing so people flocked here to capitalize on what only we offered.  We drew from the four corners of the globe and with the masses came the talent and desire to achieve.  In an environment that nourished potential milestones fell and the success benefited all.  A legend emerged and the world had a new champion.

Nothing that involves humans will ever be perfect, but the United States comes very close.  Our history does include times for which we cannot make amends, but they are few in comparison to our deeds of liberation, loyalty, and charity.  When one truly wants to measure their worth they must ask themselves if the world is a better place because they were in it.  For America, the answer is a resounding yes.  We were not only the first to put freedom to the test of reality, we have also gladly shouldered the responsibility of being its guardian.  American military might has seen jungles, deserts, beaches, and farm fields in the crusade to defend liberty at home and abroad.  Our friends have known no greater ally and our enemies no greater foe.  Our assistance comes in many forms as American aid fuels those still seeking their own deliverance and comforts those that must pay the steep price freedom demands.  In a world that will always have those employing oppression in their quest for power, may there always be the vigilant watchmen standing at the ready to dispatch the next threat.

July 4th is not just the day a nation was born; it is also marks the beginning of a new age in human existence.  People came here because the old world and it limitations did not suit them.  History is filled with kingdoms, empires, and dictatorships that ruled through suppression and class systems.  The United States was the first country founded on freedom and individual rights.  The American Revolution was not just between thirteen colonies and the crown they felt unjustly ruled over them, it was between two different views of how the world should be.  Old and new clashed and the world won.  Despite inconceivable odds, America not only prevailed but supplanted the empire that once ruled it as the global power.  What is even more remarkable is that this feat was accomplished through the liberation of human potential.   Americans are different, some view it as arrogance but they are wrong.  We are different and extraordinary because we are the product of a revolution that won our right to be.