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July 29, 2016

Actually, We May Have Two of the Least Qualified Presidential Candidates In History


Republicans have been a little more restrained in their praise for Donald Trump’s experience, settling on something like “uniquely qualified” for the presidency in these trying times.

The truth is that Trump and Clinton may be two of the least qualified candidates in history, especially if you balance qualifications with disqualifications.

Let’s start with Clinton. The narrative is that she was something close to a community organizer in her early years. Gee, I wonder why Democrats find that to be a plus.

By that standard, the far-left author of “Rules for Radicals,” Saul Alinsky, a subject of Clinton’s college senior thesis, would make a great president.

Convention speakers also cited Clinton’s time as first lady. But there have been lots of first ladies, and just being around when other people make decisions doesn’t qualify as presidential material.

To be sure, Clinton, like Eleanor Roosevelt, actively promoted her liberal agenda while in the White House, especially on health care. But those efforts led to criticism that voters elected her husband, not her.

The more substantive claim is that Clinton was a senator (2001-09) and a secretary of state (2009-13).

But while some of her former Republican Senate colleagues commended her preparedness at committee meetings, no important legislation ever came from her office. And she has spent a lot of time over the past couple years distancing herself from many of the things she said and voted on as a senator.

Her role as secretary of state is even more dubious. The world became a much more dangerous place on her watch, and relations with both our allies and foes have taken a dramatic turn for the worse.

In short, being a failure doesn’t make someone qualified. In fact, it usually gets them fired. But it didn’t in this case because Clinton and Obama agreed on the strategy.

So how about Trump? He has none of the qualifications that voters usually demand in a president. He has never held elective office, nor appointed office for that matter. And he has no military experience (though neither does Clinton).

He has never immersed himself in the policy issues, foreign or domestic, facing the country, and he has put forth only the thinnest of proposals to address those challenges.

He tends to speak his mind when and where he wants. And perhaps most troubling, he seems to be abandoning some of the free market principles, such as free trade, that have long been hallmarks of conservatism.

In this election cycle, a large swath of the public sees those negatives as anti-establishment positives. They would counter that his business acumen is exactly what the country needs.

But it’s not just qualifications for political office; disqualifications should also be considered.

Clinton’s decision to put the country’s security at risk by setting up her own server and then repeatedly lying about it is a disqualifying factor. The Clinton Foundation’s cronyism and pay-for-access to Clinton and her husband are also disqualifying.

Her abandonment of our people in Benghazi and then lying about the cause of the attacks there is disqualifying, as is her effort at résumé padding by falsely claiming that she and daughter Chelsea came under sniper fire during their 1996 trip to Bosnia.

On the Trump side, the fact that he has no foreign policy experience whatsoever should be a huge concern, though perhaps not disqualifying — many governors, for example, are in the same boat.

The fact that Trump has had a number of business investments go sour is a concern, but then Obama has wasted billions of taxpayer dollars investing in failed green energy projects, and Clinton says she wants to “invest” even more.

And Trump’s lack of a filter is a huge concern, and maybe a disqualifier, since it’s not hard to imagine him mocking foreign governments and their leaders, as he did with Carly Fiorina and a New York Times reporter with a congenital disease.

Thus, when you balance the “qualifiers” with the “disqualifiers,” or at least “concerns,” it isn’t clear that either candidate is really qualified, much less “the most qualified.” It means that this fall, voters will have to decide between what could be the two least qualified presidential candidates in history.


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