Columnist: Hillary or ‘The Donald?’

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 31, 2016

By Sydney M. Williams

Contributing columnist

“’Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’

‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.

‘I don’t much care where — ’ said Alice.

‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.

‘ — so long as I get somewhere,’ Alice added as an explanation.

‘Oh, you’re sure to do that,’ said the cat, ‘if you only walk long enough.’”

— Lewis Carroll, “Alice in Wonderland,” 1865.

David Brooks’ New York Times column of March 18, “No, Not Trump, Not Ever,” got half the story. The second half should read, “No, Not Hillary, Not Ever.” The fact is voters will likely be faced with a “catch 22” choice. Deciding to not vote, as many I suspect will, is in itself a decision, as William James once reminded us: “When you have to make a choice and don’t make it, that is in itself a choice.”

While mainstream media takes glee in pointing out the weaknesses and inanities in Donald Trump’s outbursts, they have whitewashed Hillary Clinton. They view her as flawed, but tout her experience as secretary of state, a U.S. senator and as one half of the Bill Clinton presidency.

However, in a recent YouGov poll, Hillary was seen as the least honest and most untrustworthy of all candidates, Republican or Democratic. A mere 9 percent consider her honest. According to a New York Times/CBS poll, 60 percent of Republicans are “embarrassed” by their party’s presidential campaign, while only 13 percent of Democrats are. That tells me Republicans are more honest, realistic and forthcoming than their Democrat counterparts.

Implied in Trump’s favorable poll numbers is an unfavorable view toward Washington’s establishment. Hillary, as a Washington fixture, has a different problem. She’s a bad person.

Nevertheless, mainstream media has forgiven her serial lies, her corrupt — and frankly illegal — activities: from cattle futures to Whitewater to Travelgate to her current email travails. They have ignored the fact that the world became more dangerous when she was secretary of state. They have not fully investigated the Clinton Foundation, which failed to make disclosures about its sources and uses of funds, and have left unanswered questions as to whether there were quid pro quos regarding donations made and favorable deals received by foreign governments.

The Clintons leveraged their political successes into personal wealth. How different they are from Harry Truman who once wrote: “… the office of the president … doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to the American people and its not for sale.” Tell that to the lessors of the Lincoln bedroom.

With a wink and a nod, the media overlooked the savage public relations attacks Hillary waged on women — women who had been bedded by her errant husband and who then threatened to speak out. Mainstream media has not, for example, looked into her use of the IRS as an instrument for revenge, as Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky and Juanita Broaddrick could testify.

They treated lightly the security risks to the United States when she illegally made use of a private email server to send and receive government messages, some of which were so secret they have only been released to the public in redacted form. They let pass her insidious lies about the events in Benghazi.

Recall, upon arrival of the bodies back at Andrews Air Force Base, she told the families of those killed that their kin had been victims of a YouTube video “offensive to Islam.” In short, mainstream media and the Democratic establishment have accepted her faults, while let slide her character flaws, flaws that overwhelm whatever experience she brings.

Donald Trump is not the answer. On Saturday, March 5, at the University of Central Florida, in a rousing, emotional speech, he asked an audience of young, college students to raise their right hand and “take the pledge, no matter what, to vote for Donald J. Trump” in the Florida primary.

It was chilling to watch a group of young people, some with right arms extended in Nazi-like salutes, promising to pledge allegiance to the man. His plan to round up and send home millions of illegals is dystopian and simply illogical. His call to impose higher tariffs on imported goods from China and Mexico would serve to raise consumer prices at home and could tilt the world into depression.

In the cases of both Mr. Trump and Ms. Clinton, their unfavorable ratings exceed their favorable ones. In normal times, neither would be the preferred choice of their respective parties. But we find ourselves at a juncture where good people choose not to run — or are unable or unwilling to compete with the viciousness necessary for victory — and bad people take advantage of the consequential disjointed mess.

Washington bureaucrats and elected officials have become immersed in a swill of hypocrisy and lies. They have used government to enrich and protect themselves with little regard for the people that fund their lifestyles. Obviously, there are exceptions to this broad-brushed condemnation, but they are few.

Dissatisfied and alienated voters see what is going on, and many have jumped on the Trump bandwagon. They believe he is, as he claims, beholden to no special interests — other than his own. He alone, so goes his claim, can rid us of this stench. But, Mr. Trump has always been driven by self-interest, and it is unlikely he has a had a spiritual rebirth.

What may have begun as a lark has turned into a crusade. His desire, like that of Hillary, is for power, not a wish to cleanse the filth-filled Aegean Stables alongside the Potomac. And Hillary, obviously, is deeply immersed in Washington’s muck.

Like the intermittent scenes in Shakespeare’s tragedies, humor provides relief and color to our perspectives. Roger Kimball recently wrote a piece for in which he compared Trump to Roderick Spode, the fascist-like fictional creation of P.G. Wodehouse. Spode and his “black shorts” — “there were no shirts left” — wanted to ban “foreign root vegetables” and to compel “the compulsory, scientific measurement of all adult male knees.”

My friend who sent me the Kimball article, a fellow Wodehousian, also included a quote about another of Wodehouse’s creations, Florence Cray: She had “… a laugh like a squadron of cavalry charging over a tin bridge,” a description that reminded him, as it does me, of Hillary Clinton.

It may be that my fears are overblown. Trump could turn out to be a nonideological pragmatist intent only on fixing some of the many problems we face. It is also conceivable that a reformist Hillary will follow the steps of her nonideological — though scandal-ridden — husband along a more centrist path, reversing some of damage created by Mr. Obama. But those possibilities seem remote. Rather, they suggest a belief in Coleridge’s Xanadu: For he on honey-dew hath fed, and drunk the milk of paradise.

Writer’s note:

For those not current with “Alice,” when she was speaking with the Cheshire Cat, the latter assured her that down one path was the Hatter, while down the other was the March Hare. “Visit either you like: they’re both mad.”

Lewis Carroll wrote fiction. We are living reality. With Libya, Syria and Iraq having become failed states, the world has become more dangerous. Political correctness has become pervasive. Zero and negative interest rates mask the burden of debt.

Perhaps “The Donald’s” followers will wake to the potential damage a President Trump could do to the country. Perhaps Hillary’s acolytes will realize the difference between what she promises and what she has done. But, in a world in which social media dominates and celebrity reigns, such hopes seem illusive.

If Trump and Hillary become our options, it would be best if the people, in their wisdom, elect a Congress of the opposing party from that which wins the White House. At least, then, damage would be limited, and in four years we could try again.

Sydney Williams, a retired stock broker, writes about politics, the economy, global affairs, education and climate, among other topics. He describes his political leanings as being based in the rapidly disappearing ideology of common sense.