There is a kind of willful obliviousness to character that is unseemly no matter which side of the political spectrum embraces it. It’s prominent in both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s campaigns.
How many times have we heard that it is righteous and fair to dig into the minutia of a candidate’s personal past, no matter how small or seemingly trivial the issue or how mean-spirited and tendentious the investigation, because, after all, it “goes to character” and, as we all know, when it comes to a presidential candidate, character is everything.
Maybe we vote largely on policy or, as they say, an assessment as to which candidate is best for our wallet, but character is a deal-breaker. Bad character equals no vote, it is thought. Hence: Unleash the dogs of investigative journalism and lay bare as many foibles, peccadilloes, and bad grade-school report cards you can unearth. It goes to character.
How much more do we need to see to know this notion is entirely preposterous? The only character issues most voters care about are the ones associated with the candidates they have no intention of voting for: Yes,those character flaws they care about. A lot.
With candidates they support, not so much. With their own favorite, there is no limit to the amount of obvious bad behavior and despicable character traits they will engorge without even beginning to choke. Maybe it’s a matter of turning a blind eye, or rationalizing, re-framing, or putting one’s fingers in one’s ears and humming “Embraceable You,” but the goal is the same: Move on. (Hey, didn’t a website with that name spring forth for the explicit purpose of papering over one particular president’s slimy and probably felonious conduct?)
The idea is to achieve stratospheric levels of high dudgeon about bad behavior in the guy you don’t support, while ignoring equally bad behavior, or worse, in the one you do, and by “guy” I mean Hillary. Or Donald. You get the idea.
We’ve Ignored Bad Character for Decades
Admittedly, and most certainly, it didn’t start with Hillary and Donald: Yes, William Jefferson Clinton may be many things, some of which are considered admirable, even presidential; but his behavior towards women, chronicled over and over for decades, shows he was (and probably still is), by even the most charitable analysis, a pig, everything mainline feminism has found repellent and execrable for 40 years, touching all the bases. Yet they voted for him, overwhelmingly.
Kennedy, we now know, was, among other things, essentially a prep-school advantaged pimp. To this day, he is revered. (Okay, not by everybody, but pretty much.)
Three presidents, all men of very questionable “character,” as that term is customarily (and rather incessantly) applied in the context of presidential political gymnastics. No, that’s not all they were, but it is certainly part of what they were.
All three were given a pass by the majority of the electorate, and they were given that pass for the same reason and in the same way Hillary and Donald are currently being given a “character” pass.
That Brings Us to Hillary and Donald
Does anyone—other than Hillary supporters—have the ability to un-see the completely obvious corruption, insider finagling, roaring personal ambition, arrogance, phony-baloney pandering, and habitual prevarication (okay, call it “Clintonian Parsing”) that has draped her entire career, a level of broad-based malfeasance that would not only disqualify anyone else for any public office, but most likely land him in the pokey?
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