To borrow a phrase from former vice president Albert Gore, Democrats must face an “inconvenient truth” about presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton. That exercise leads this writer to the judgment she’s not the quieting, unifying presence this nation so desperately needs as president. Vice President Joe Biden is that leader.
This is not a question of Ms. Clinton’s progressive credentials. She can boast a lifetime of promoting Democratic principles. Like President Obama she’s a policy wonk, which she’s demonstrating in the early days of the 2016 campaign by presenting bold plans on critical issues facing the nation.
Rather, it’s a question of her temperament, her demeanor, her contentious nature, the way she’s viewed with contempt by those she labeled “the vast right-wing conspiracy” in 1998. If elected, will she be able to break the congressional gridlock and govern effectively, or will the next Republican leader announce that party’s objective to ensure she will be a one-term president?
The unfounded and continuing Republican charge Mrs. Clinton, as secretary of state, was responsible for the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi suggests a president Hillary Clinton would suffer the same blatant obstructionism by congressional Republicans President Obama has endured from the day of his inauguration.
But Democrats must acknowledge Mrs. Clinton’s self-important manner, even arrogance. Her dismissive defense of using a private server jointly for state department business and her personal email is a perfect case in point. She will not acknowledge the seriousness of her actions, which cannot be dismissed by ill-fitted humor about Snapchat and messages disappearing automatically.
Legitimate controversy exists over the Clintons’ income and net worth. Since 2007, they have a reported income of $139 million, $28.3 million in 2014 alone. Almost all that income is from speaking fees, as much as $325,000 for a single speech. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Mrs. Clinton charged UNLV $225,000 to speak last year and required a “Gulfstream 450 or larger jet” and a presidential suite. To the average person, that smacks of privilege akin to royalty.
In contrast, Mr. Biden displays a humility admired by the ordinary citizen of this country as well as people of power and political adversaries. He’s a happy person, warm and friendly to all. His well-known gaffes and tactile tendencies are well intentioned, never mean spirited.
Mr. Biden is pre-eminently qualified to be president of the United States. He served 36 years in the Senate and chaired the Judiciary Committee and the Foreign Relations Committee. And, of course, he will have served two terms as vice president soon after the next president will be elected.
Most important, Mr. Biden has a long history of working with his Republican colleagues. Unlike Mr. Obama, the vice president is a creature of the Senate, a seasoned legislator who’s reached out to Republican and Democrats alike in pushing his legislative agenda forward. He will be a Lyndon Johnson, without the meanness.
His wife, Dr. Jill Biden, will be a gracious and effective First Lady.
No announced Republican candidate can hold a candle to Mrs. Clinton’s qualifications. But Mr. Biden, an experienced, humble and joyful person, will best serve our nation and the world in this time of conflict and turmoil.
Bo Statham is a retired lawyer, congressional aid and businessman. He lives in Gardnerville and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.