“You may have heard Senator Sanders say I’m unqualified to be president,” Hillary Clinton said at a rally on Friday. “Well seriously, seriously, I’ve been called a lot of things over the years, but unqualified has not been one of them. Heh heh heh.” You can watch it here.
Is she kidding us? Is her memory failing? I believe I first heard her called “unqualified” when she was driving HillaryCare into a ditch as first lady. Or was it when she fired the White House Travel Office staff and replaced them with close friends? Or was it when she blamed her husband’s inability to act in an even remotely decent fashion on a conspiracy theory? I honestly don’t remember when it was, except that it was decades ago.
Since then, she had a very nice time in the Senate, during which she got along well with colleagues but accomplished absolutely nothing memorable. Unless you think that it’s memorable to sponsor bills to establish an historic site in New York, name a post office, or designate a portion of New York’s U.S. Route 20 as the Timothy J. Russert Highway. She did vote to invade Iraq, so there’s that. She was somehow completely out-organized and out-hustled for the Democratic nomination for president in 2008, before being given a keep-your-friends-close-but-your-enemies-closer job as Secretary of State in the Obama administration.
Her campaign for this turn at the Democratic nomination once claimed that they’d run on how she had “restored America’s place in the world, which had been very badly battered through the previous administration.” Good luck with that. She hasn’t just failed to lock up the easiest contested Democratic nomination race in history, she’s been given serious contention from a 70-bajillion-year-old, white-haired, honest-to-goodness socialist from Vermont.
Let’s clarify the definition of unqualified. Here’s Merriam-Webster:
Not having the skills, knowledge, or experience needed to do a particular job or activity.
Or as one person on Twitter put it:
Yes, Hillary has had jobs. She has a resume that would make even the most accomplished crony capitalists blush. She did not have a particularly good go of things as first lady of either Arkansas or the United States, but let’s go ahead and blame her husband for that. She had a lot to deal with. And then she, thanks to running against a weak candidate, became a U.S. senator from a state she had never lived in. She failed to win the Democratic nomination for president in 2008. And she went on to push for invasions of Libya and other stellar decisions while U.S. secretary of State. The Russia “reset” is, perhaps, my favorite.
So yes, she has had those high-paying, high-status jobs. And she’s even done things. For instance, she and her husband have made scandalous amounts of money off of their roles in government. She had a private server and secret email accounts transmit classified government information. For years. She pushed the United States to invade Libya and destabilize it, turning it into a hellhole where a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed in an organized terror attack she suggested should be blamed on a YouTube video.
While being president is a big job, many Americans are qualified to hold it on account of their understanding of the Constitution, prudence, experience doing their given jobs well, leadership qualities, and intellectual rigor. But some people disqualify themselves.
Having jobs, including jobs you would not have gotten if you hadn’t endured being one of Bill Clinton’s ladies, doesn’t mean you’re qualified. You need the skills, knowledge, and experience to do a job well. So if you’re hiring for the job of being embroiled in scandal, making bad decisions, and showcasing horrible judgment, yes, Hillary is qualified. To be president of the United States? Oh, hell no.
If We Can Call Men Unqualified, Why Can’t We Call Women?
Calling one’s political opponent unqualified is one of the most time-tested critiques in the political book. It’s sort of the default assumption, in fact, for running against someone or not voting for someone. All politicians are accused of being unqualified to hold the office they’re running for because that’s a blanket way of describing why you think they’re not up to the job in a way that you or your candidate are. It’s not even a particularly noteworthy critique, for male or female politicians.
On top of that, after years of watching the media melt down any time a conservative woman sought political office, you’d be forgiven for thinking the media didn’t mind critiques of female politicians. Heck, in the case of some GOP women, they resort to mind-bogglingly unfair attacks that are barely distinguishable from visceral shrieks.
But no reporters questioned Hillary’s claim that she had never been called unqualified (perhaps our wise and smug journalists are too young to remember the 1990s. Or 2000s. Or 2010s. Or last month). Instead we saw various outlets rush to defend her as if she were a delicate flower who needed to rest on the fainting couch and be protected from the mean boys.
FiveThirtyEight published “Thinking They’re ‘Unqualified’ Is A Big Reason More Women Don’t Run For Office“:
In his Philadelphia remarks, Sanders was attempting to make the basic argument of this election — that ‘outsiders’ are more qualified than ‘insiders’ to run the country at this particular moment. But calling Clinton, a former U.S. senator and secretary of state, ‘unqualified’ is raising ire as a gendered attack, although that didn’t appear to be Sanders’ intention.
I gather that college is a place you go now to learn to use the word “gendered” regularly without feeling like you are a complete idiot.
Jill Greenlee, Mirya Holman, and Rachel VanSickle-Ward wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post headlined, “Why women’s representation may suffer when Hillary Clinton is attacked as ‘ambitious’ and ‘unqualified’.” Seriously, ladies, it won’t. Certainly no more than it makes women’s representation suffer when it takes three women to pen a single, weak op-ed.
Women are strong enough to handle completely legitimate criticisms of Hillary without crying. It might behoove the media to notice how many millions of women share the views of some men about Hillary’s bad judgment and other qualification problems.
Yes, Hillary has held high office and has made a ton of money off of her connections to government. However, her foreign policy “achievements” are almost uniformly negative, and her campaign capabilities and time as a senator aren’t so hot either. Crying sexism every time someone points out these flaws is ridiculous.