By James Shott
Almost everyone agrees that this is the most unusual election in our lifetimes. We have two major party candidates with the highest disapproval ratings that anyone can remember. And each candidate's supporters ignore the negatives and continue to support the candidate because so much is at stake.
Democrat Hillary Clinton comes from decades in the political sphere as the wife of a governor and president, as a U.S. senator and as secretary of state. Republican Donald Trump comes from decades in the private sector as a businessman and entertainment show producer, having first entered political life for the 2015 Republican primary.
Both have a long list of negatives their political enemies hope will disqualify them in the eyes of voters. However, there are important differences between them.
It wasn't Donald Trump who for personal convenience as secretary of state flaunted the rules and long-established procedures, taking the unprecedented step of evading the official secure government email system in favor of a private email server for government business, including classified information. And it wasn't Donald who then had the server scrubbed, destroying thousands of messages that were not only government property, but evidence, and then couldn't provide a credible reasons for any of it.
It wasn't Donald Trump whose possible-criminal situation caused untold irregularities in the operation of the State Department, the FBI and the Justice Department. Those included a "chance" meeting on an airport tarmac between the prime suspect's husband and the attorney general of the United States, putting dozens of public servants in the position to destroy their credibility and trustworthiness to save a presidential candidate's backside.
It wasn't Donald Trump whose vast experience in government in the U.S. Senate and the State Department resulted in neglecting dozens of requests for increased security prior to the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya. That attack resulted in the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other brave Americans. And it wasn't Trump who then blamed an obscure Internet video for a clear terrorist attack, resulting in jailing the video's producer.
And it wasn't Donald Trump whose frequent profanity-laced tirades insulted and denigrated Secret Service agents and White House staffers.
But that was a long time ago, and since all of that was a long time ago, it probably isn't relevant that it also wasn't Donald Trump who worked for the congressional committee investigating the Watergate cover-up many years ago, and was fired for lying.
It was Donald Trump who took some money from his father, invested it in businesses and created hotels, casinos, golf courses and television shows. Some of his creations didn't work out, as is not uncommon in the world of business. Luminaries such as Henry Ford, Walt Disney, F.W. Woolworth, Albert Einstein and Bill Gates also sometimes failed.
It was Donald Trump who claimed business losses of nearly a billion dollars on tax returns many years ago, probably cancelling an equal amount of income over several years, using provisions in the tax code to reduce taxable income, just as most every American who pays taxes does through deductions for such things as dependents, mortgage interest and charitable giving.
For taking legal tax deductions Trump has attracted mountains of criticism from his betters, who somehow twist this into meaning he doesn't care about the country, or the military and dozens of other things. But the thousands of people who work in his businesses do pay taxes, and that is significant.
And, yes, it was Donald Trump who managed to anger his primary opponents and many Americans with his petulant personal attacks against those who opposed and challenged him. His crass manner leaves much to be desired, and his locker room vulgarity, spoken in private 11 years ago, justifiably repulsed anyone not blinded by partisanship. But if some rapper had used those same words as lyrics, it'd be #1 on Billboard.
Apparently, it's a more serious offense to say things that offend someone than to put national interests at risk, to lose $6 billion of State Department funds and generally fail to competently run the agency you've been entrusted to run, and then go on to make millions giving $250,000 secret-content speeches to Wall Street banks that you publicly criticize. By virtue of merely having been elected a U.S. senator and appointed as a cabinet secretary, you are thus qualified to be president, even if the "best" you did in those positions was inconsequential or, too often, harmful.
Strangely, people are more offended by Trump's words than Hillary's vicious attacks on her hubby's numerous sexual victims and conquests, her position on coal mining and the Supreme Court, and her comments supporting open borders, spoken in a private $250,000 speech.
Trump is a crass bully with an authoritarian streak. Clinton's hubris already put national security at risk, and she will continue Obama's dangerous, destructive, and unconstitutional policies. Thus is our choice.