Monday, July 25, 2016

Temperance: Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump

Temperament. I think it's the key to success. The best educated individual can be a complete disaster if they fail to understand and adapt to the nuances of a particular job. I'm sure you've heard the expression about a "clash of personalities". Well, there is also the clash of social environments, whether it be in business, the classroom, or (and especially), in politics. One has to be adaptable and sociable to be successful. It has long been said that politics is the "art of the possible" or "game of compromise". It was the great former US Speaker of the House, Sam Rayburn who once said "to get along, you have to go along" or John Kennedy's famous remark that "success has many fathers but failure is an orphan". We are face to two main choices for president in November, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump (there are to other individuals worthy of consideration too, Jill Stein of the Green Party and Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party, however for the sake of brevity, I will focus on the first two).

What kind of person is Hillary Clinton? We've all seen her, either in person or on TV. To some, she comes across as friendly, genuine, and honest while others see her as hateful, arrogant, vindictive, and as crooked as a snake's back. Let's briefly take a look at Ms. Clinton. She was born Hilary Diane Rodham on October 27, 1947 in Chicago, Illinois and raised a United Methodist in a conservative middle class household with other two siblings. The former Brownie and Girl Scout was a Barry Goldwater volunteer in his 1964 Presidential campaign and strongly anti-communist like Goldwater like her parents, their minister, and their friends.

In 1965, she attended Wellesley College, where she majored in political science and was president of the college's Young Republicans. She supported GOP centrists John Lindsey for NYC Mayor and Ed Brooke for US Senator in Massachusetts. Her attitude toward social issues changed, and she soon found herself as supporter of the far left Democrat Eugene McCarthy. Nevertheless, she interned at the House Republican Conference and helped GOP moderate Charles Goodall's efforts to elect another moderate, David Rockefeller. She attended the 1968 GOP Convention but was disappointed by Richard Nixon's portrayal of Rockefeller and "veiled racism". She cemented her departure from the Republican Party with her senior thesis on radical organizer Saul Alinsky's tactics on community organizing (as First Lady, access to her thesis was restricted). She graduated with a honors BA in Political Science in 1969.

After graduation, she held a variety of typical jobs before enrolling in Yale Law School where she served on the Yale Law Review. She was allowed to work on cases involving child abuse as part of her studies. She worked on Senator Walter Mondale's Subcommittee of Migratory Labor. She interned for the law firm of Treuhalf, Walker, and Burnstein in Oakland California which was then known for its work on constitutional rights and civil liberties issues (allegedly, two of its four partners had links to the Communist Party). She received her law degree in 1973, while she was dating Bill Clinton. The two campaigned together in Texas on behalf of Democrat George McGovern. She also worked for the Children Defense Fund. By 1974, she served on various committees during the Watergate Hearings (and fired for unethical behavior according to her former boss, General Counsel and Chief of Staff, Jerry Zeifman), afterwards returning with Bill Clinton to Arkansas to teach law courses at the University of Arkansas. She continued to remain involved in child advocacy issues throughout the 1970's into Bill Clinton's election as Governor. In 1979, she became the first female to made a full partner at local law firm, from where she would continue to earn more money than her husband until his election as President. During this same time period, there was several questionable investments such as Whitewater Development Corporation and cattle futures, which would haunt the Clintons for decades.

That brings us to the point where the Clinton's entered the White House, with its ups and many downs, including disclosure of Bill's numerous affairs throughout the years and failure of a national healthcare plan, which was headed up by Hillary. After the Presidency, Hillary ran successfully for US Senator from New York and then made her own run for President; ending unsuccessfully against an unknown upstart, Barak Obama. Hillary struck a deal for Secretary of State as part of an apparent deal to support Obama's run against John McCain, the Republican Senator of Arizona, Navy veteran and former POW. Her tenure as Secretary of State was marred by serious controversies over the decline in relationships with Europe, Israel, Russia, and China and efforts to revive the Cold War, the deaths of Ambassador Stevens and three other individuals in Benghazi, the rise of ISIS and terrorism, the disintegration of Syria, increased illegal immigration and expansion of the drug cartels, as well as a failure in judgment concerning her mishandling of government emails and refusal to use secured servers, FBI and Senate investigations which revealed a complete lack of empathy, sense of non-culpability, misjudgment, self-entitlement, and arrogance. More recently has been the shadow of "election rigging" in her Primary race against Bernie Sanders due to dumping of email exchanges involving her campaign and DNC Chairperson, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, who was since been forced to resign.

"The Donald" as he is known, is an icon of glitz, overindulgence, glamour, New York City street smarts, brashness, and yes, arrogance. Trump is also known for his overreach, misjudgments, high dollar bankruptcies, abrasiveness, and hyperbole. He is the epitome of the New York real estate tycoon and star of his own "reality" TV show with its catchphrase, "you're fire" a part of our lexicon. He founded a now defunct university to teach people how to be successful, authored numerous books, and even has board games (I have several of his books and the board game. He was also required study during my undergraduate days while working on my degree in international economics, along with some of the other modern day "robber barons" like Carl Ichan and T. Boone Pickens).

Donald John Trump was born with money. His father ran a small but successful real estate development business, but it "the Donald" who turned it into an empire. He was born June 14, 1946, the fourth of five children, and grew up Jamaica Estates in Queens. He attended an upper-class "prep school", Kew-Forrest. By age 13, he had enrolled in the New York Military Academy and obtained the rank of captain. Trump went on to attend Fordham University in the Bronx before transferring to the prestigious Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. He graduated in 1968 with a BA in Economics. Trump didn't serve during the Vietnam War; having received several deferments, first because of "heel spurs" and then because he was enrolled in college (Bill Clinton also received deferments and didn't serve). Later, however, he was found fit and though he received a high draft number, was never drafted.

While attending Wharton, Trump had already begun to try his hand in real estate, beginning with the revitalization of the Swift Village Apartments in Cincinnati, Ohio. By 1971, he had moved to Manhattan and jumped into what would become a very successful career and soon developed a reputation for bold, over the top projects which usually involved properties no one wanted and turning them into highly desirable (and profitable) developments, such as the Commodore Hotel which was later to become the Grand Hyatt Hotel and the Bonwit Teller department store which became the site of the Trump Plaza, other investments weren't always as successful. While Trump has never filed personal bankruptcy, some of his holdings, including a few casinos have been included in one of the four chapter 11 bankruptcies filed. Trump revamped the Wollman Rink in Central Park, $750,000 under budget and operated the ice skating rink for one year with all profits going to various charities.

Despite the setbacks, Trump continued expanded his empire into boxing promotion, golf courses, the "Miss USA", "Miss Universe" and "Miss Teen USA" beauty pageants and even a football team, "New Jersey Generals", in the now defunct USFL. Trump is no stranger to controversies. In addition to the bankruptcies, Trump has been involved with several lawsuits beginning in 1973 with the Department of Justice over claims of housing violations, the Trump University (later named the Trump Entrepreneur Initiative LLC), the various pageants and television networks, including NBC and Univision), and several others. Then there are the personal spates with individuals such as Rosie O'Donnell, Whoopie Goldberg, and more recently, Fox News' Megyn Kelly. Nevertheless, Trump keeps rolling along with financial interests in books, a magazine, board games, modeling management, mortgages, air shuttles, perfumes and cosmetics, television production, vodka and steaks, bottled water, an online travel search engine, men's accessories that include watches and clothing, catering, a line of coffee (and yes, even a line of ice cream), plus investments in banks and financial institutions, construction equipment, hedge funds, and even substantial shares in Facebook. All told, his estimated net worth is somewhere between $2.9 and $3.3 billion, give or take a hundred thousand here or there (to be fair, neither Hillary or Bill are exactly paupers. They have an estimated net worth of just over $32 million for Hillary and $80 million for Bill---that's a lot of cigars). Much of Hillary's income comes from speaking fees which are all in the six figure range, along with heavy investments in banks, hedge funds, pharmaceutical and financial services companies as well as in telecommunications.

Politically, Donald Trump has been a member of the Reform Party during the days of Ross Perot, a Democrat, and a Republican. He appears to base his political affiliation more on his personal relationships than on any ideology, such as with the Clintons and the Reagans, Mitt Romney, and John McCain, which isn't unexpected for a businessperson. Trump has, on occasion, left based on personalities too, such as David Duke's or Pat Buchanan's involvement with the GOP. He has also given freely to various political causes and candidates. However, when it comes to ideology, Trump considers himself a "populist" and appears to be fairly conservative, especially on foreign policy, gun control and social issues like illegal immigration and pro-life, with a ban on late term abortions. He supports "traditional marriages" but isn't necessarily opposed to same-sex marriages. He favors the death penalty on capital crimes. Trump supports lowering the corporate tax from its current 15%, replacing Obamacare with a as-of-yet undefined "free market" program, opposes Common Core and supports school choice with local and/or state control. He would like to see improvement, if not overhaul of the VA system. He favors "fair trade" and considers himself a "protectionist". He calls NAFTA a disaster to US businesses and unions, and opposes the super-secret Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and calls the EPA "a joke". In foreign policy, Trump defines himself as a "nationalist" and while preferring non-intervention, believes that if we must be involved, to be aggressive and decisive, especially when dealing with terrorism. Trump would also halt immigration from nations currently involving with terrorism and all individuals seeking to come to this country must be thoroughly vetted and be willing to swear allegiance to America. As stated before, Trump strongly opposes illegal immigration and believes immediate action needs to be taken.

So, there we have it. Two former and possible future friends, bucking to become the "CEO" of America, Inc and manage this country on behalf of the Oligarchs, with whom both have not just close connections, but could actually be considered a member of. Both are well educated, successful, intelligent, wealthy, and have the arrogance to go with it. Hillary Clinton has the skill of a lawyer. She has political expertise, both as the wife of a former Governor and two term President, but in her own right as a Senator and Secretary of State. Donald Trump has a very keen business sense, exceptional negotiation abilities and can get "down and dirty" with the best of them when it comes to deal making or making a political stand. He is on personal terms with most of the world's elite. That means he can talk with them on their terms as friends, not as a term limited politician.

Hillary has suffered through a troubled administration and now, with the email revelations regarding the DNC Chairperson and her former opponent following on the heels of Senate hearings over Benghazi, illegal gunrunning, and the deaths of a US ambassador and CIA personnel (and her infamous "what does it matter" quote when questioned about the deaths), an FBI investigation regarding serious security violations concerning her mishandling of government emails (not to mention possible ethics improprieties between AG Lynch and Bill Clinton), Hillary has some culpability and honesty issues. She has demonstrated a rare arrogance and capacity for lying (even for a politician and Beltway insider), a surprising lack of empathy given her early and admirable advocacy on behalf of youth, when it came to military, veteran, Secret Service, or other government personnel along with a significant sense of self-entitlement. Maybe it was her earlier loss to a inexperienced and nameless contender (Obama) that stole her moment in the sun which has harden her, or the unwelcomed but politically necessary association with his often hapless administration that she feared would tarnish her (as it ultimately did). Perhaps it's her public humiliation by the repeated indiscretions of her husband or too many under-the-table behind closed door deals and compromises which has warped her integrity. Politics can do that to a person, especially if you make your living inside the Beltway.

So, what about "the Donald"? He too has much to answer for. It certainly wasn't his fault to be born rich or faulted for his excellent education (we all should be so lucky). Personally, I don't think he should be faulted for being a successful businessman, after all, that's part of the American Dream right? Without question he has made serious mistakes. Yes, he's had public martial issues, but then he's a public man, and none of his former wives have anything negative to say about him (he wasn't a drunk, a drug addict, child abuser or even a playboy). His children have all turned out terrific. They too are well educated, as down to earth as they can be, and each are rather successful on their own. Yes, he is vain. Yes, he has an ego the size of the Grand Canyon, but he also has a sense of humor about it too. No forced or faked laughter here. He has proven to be generous with this time and with his money. He has made so business mistakes, but then that's the nature of what he does. The trick is figuring out what went wrong and not doing it again, which he is very good at. True, he doesn't have the political experience that Hillary has.

He is a CEO. He is used to snapping his fingers and getting what he wants done...pronto. If you have an issue or question, fine, but Trump also expects you to prove a solution too. Whiners, excuse makers, and bellyachers won't do. In business, that's fine, however, this is politics. People don't jump because you say so. Things neither happen as you want or as fast as you need. People take credit where it isn't earned and place blame where it isn't deserved. There is a whole lot of give and take (mostly take), especially when you're dealing with individuals who are nearly as rich or powerful as you are and have egos that match yours. But, given "the Donald's" history as a dealmaker, it might just work. Given his attitude toward "the art of the deal", Trump may get along just fine with individuals like Russia's Putin or North Korea's Kim...or Congress. I'm sure ISIS and others out there will give pause.

This election cycle, amid America's deep disgust of the sellout of our democratic republic to the Oligarchs, wage inequalities, encroaching police state, endless wars-for-profit, declining quality of life, the illusion of the fair elections, and so on, will prove historic in not just whether a woman or a non-politician will be elected to President, but which direction will we go. Both candidates have very different ideas for us. One is very similar to what we've had for the last eight years. The other is reminiscent of Ronald Reagan in many ways. Both choices contain a great deal of unknown too. As Betty Davis once famously said in her role as Margo Channing in the 1950 movie classic 'All About Eve"', "fasten your seatbelts. it's going to be a bumpy night" and it's still a long way till November.

Hillary Clinton Fired for Lie, Unethical Behavior form Congressional Job

On the Issues: Hillary Clinton

2016 Net Worth for Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton

Bill Clinton's Net Worth

On the Issues: Donald Trump

Donald Trump's Net Worth

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