Now that the debate over which presidential candidates are “qualified” to assume the office if they get elected is more or less over, let’s turn to actual accomplishment.
Part of the qualification argument ought to include who among the five individuals running for the office have done something worthy of consideration. Do they have sufficient executive experience? Have they accomplished anything of substance legislatively? Does business experience matter?
Let’s get the easy stuff out of the way first.
The business experience is helpful in a limited way. Yep, that notion zeroes in on Donald J. Trump. However, as I’ve noted before — although not recently — government is not intended to be run “like a business.” Trump seems to equate everything to “cutting deals.” Treaty negotiation? “I’ll make the best deals imaginable,” he says. Working with Congress? Same thing. Trade agreements? “We’re losing everywhere; we won’t when I’m president,” he boasts.
Knock it off, Trump! You cannot do these things in a vacuum.
He’s got zero government experience. To borrow a phrase: Trump is a loser.
Government executive experience matters much more. Of the remaining candidates, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton qualify. I’d rate Kasich’s years as governor over Clinton’s as secretary of state. Kasich has had to manage a budget, deal with legislators, fight with constituents — sometimes all at once.
Clinton has managed a huge federal agency. She flew more miles to more countries than any previous secretary of state; I’m unsure where here successor, John Kerry, stands in that regard. She has sought to negotiate disputes between nations and, yes, has been caught up in controversy. But her time at State matters … a lot!
Here’s where it’s kind of a runaway.
Clinton, U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Bernie Sanders of Vermont all have congressional experience. None of them can boast of an accomplishment that measures up to Kasich’s time in the U.S. House of Reps.
I’m trying to figure out which major piece of legislation has any the names of Clinton, Cruz or Sanders. Cruz’s major “accomplishment” was to mount that idiotic filibuster in an effort to wipe out the Affordable Care Act. Sanders and Clinton can’t even “brag” about something so ridiculous.
Kasich, though, served as chairman of the House Budget Committee that played a major role in achieving a balanced federal budget in the 1990s. That is no small feat, given the toxic political climate at the time. The House was run by Republicans; the president, Bill Clinton, is a Democrat. The White House and Capitol Hill had different notions on how to achieve a balanced budget. They found common ground.
There, my friends, is where one candidate’s record shines.
Is it enough for Republicans to nominate him? Probably not. They’re going to haggle at their convention over whether to nominate two patently frightening “outsiders,” one of whom is the real thing (Trump), the other of whom (Cruz) keeps trashing the legislative body where he’s served since January 2013.
Sure, each of these people is technically “qualified” constitutionally to run for the office. And yes, that includes the Canadian-born-to-an-American-mother Cruz.
I still rate Clinton’s combined government experience — and I include her policy-making influence during her eight years as the nation’s first lady — as giving her a slight edge in the overall presidential qualification contest.
If only the Republican delegates this summer would come to their senses and deliver their party’s nomination to the remaining candidate, Gov. Kasich, who actually has something to show for his lengthy public service record. Then we could have a serious debate this fall on who to select as the nation’s next president.
If only …