Trump v. Clinton: Judging ‘the Lesser Evil’

The mainstream U.S. media rightly criticizes Donald Trump for his bigoted remarks about Mexicans and Muslims – and his know-nothing-ism on global warming – but wrongly ignores Hillary Clinton’s role in futile and bloody wars, Gilbert Doctorow notes.

By Gilbert Doctorow

There are many folks, including the editorial boards of several of our newspapers of record, who insistently tell us that the ongoing American presidential election is one of the most vile in the country’s history considering the venomous attacks that candidates have made on one another’s personal qualifications, morals, family members and — from time to time — even on specific political stands.

How this race really compares to elections past is hard to say. The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth attacks on the military valor and medals of candidate John Kerry in 2004 were a pretty good marker in the “how low can they go” category of trashing one’s opponents. (Republican operatives, many of whom had ducked war service themselves, even passed out “Purple Heart” Band-Aids at the GOP convention to mock the severity of Kerry’s war wounds.)

Yet, given Kerry’s timid and ineffective response to the smears, he allowed this cynical personal attack to demonstrate his psychological weakness as a mature politician, especially compared to his courage as a young man. (Whatever anyone says about Kerry’s war service, commanding a Swift Boat in the rivers of Vietnam was one of the most dangerous assignments in the war.)

Throughout this year’s primaries, all the mainstream media have done negative PR on Donald Trump, a great deal of which he certainly invited. Regarding his statements on Mexican migrants in the U.S., legal as well as illegal, to his remarks on closing U.S. borders to Muslims, it has been easy to paint him as a bigot.

Meanwhile, the big thinkers in the neoconservative and liberal interventionist camps, fearful that they will be driven from their cozy nest of power after a 20-year run at destroying U.S. foreign policy, have made Trump the target of their own voodoo rituals. We hear about Trump, the authoritarian who likes Vladimir Putin because they have shared concepts of governance.

From neocon luminary Robert Kagan, who was one of the early cheerleaders for the Iraq War and the husband of Victoria Nuland, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for coup d’états and regime change, we hear about Trump, the fascist.

(There are even lurid comparisons to Hitler, although there are many more contrasts since Trump favors a non-aggressive foreign policy based on firm but respectful negotiations with other powers, not world conquest. In that sense, the neocons and liberal hawks are closer to the megalomaniac Nazi invader who engaged in aggressive wars.)

In other words, today’s arbiters of American political morality will gladly support candidates who have personally been responsible for policies that have led to the deaths of tens and even hundreds of thousands of innocent people, someone like Hilary Clinton, an ardent supporter of the Iraq War as a U.S. senator and the architect of the disastrous regime change in Libya as Secretary of State.

Decrying Donald Trump

Yet, these same arbiters hold their noses when speaking about Donald Trump’s readiness to negotiate with Russian President Putin or Trump’s personal crudeness, how shocking it would be to have someone like him as America’s President and Commander in Chief. So, hands dripping in blood are fine, but the idea of working with Putin or a proclivity toward rude and offensive language is going too far.

Trump has also been questioned about his marital infidelity, his lack of religious piety and his dubious business practices, but those old-fashioned “values” have not been center stage as much as his temperament and language.

The fact that Trump has been in and out of matrimony, isn’t overtly religious and has made a good portion of his fortune from sin (as the owner and promoter of casinos with their traditional ties to mafia organizations, real or imagined) has been discounted, perhaps because his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton has her own troubled marriage, ethical issues and sleazy business practices. Throwing stones from glass houses is always a risky strategy.

Yet, against this background of cockeyed values from the establishment, I will weigh in with my own experience regarding Donald Trump’s personal character. Though I have never met the man, I heard a great deal about him — off the record going back to about 1985 — from someone who worked not only for him but with him as spokeswoman in the Trump Organization over the course of more than 20 years, my good friend Norma Foerderer.

Norma was a loyal keeper of the Trump secrets and they remained safe with her. But she did share her impressions of the man’s qualities and of his political convictions. Norma was a dyed-in-the-wool Reagan Republican and a pious, church-attending Catholic. On both counts, she was very comfortable with Trump, while admiring his strength and decisiveness. Norma was a close witness to and at times implementer of Donald’s various charitable activities which were always color-blind and big-spirited.

Norma was part of the lean-and-mean management team at the Trump Organization. Trump selected his team members well, stayed with them and gave them the freedom to fill all available space and grow their talents over time. This management style is typical of family businesses. It is what brings Trump much closer to Main Street than to Wall Street. And it is precisely this un-bureaucratic approach that our weak-kneed organization men in Washington fear like vampires before the sign of the cross.

For those who expect — that should Trump win in November — his new foreign policy of accommodation with Russia and China to be held up by the Senate confirmation process of his new appointments to State and Defense, be aware that this no-nonsense executive would be psychologically prepared to reverse our present confrontational course from his first day in office using presidential directives and without the cover of expert group reports.

I have no doubt that if Norma were alive today she would be a strong supporter of her former boss despite his undeniable flaws.

Gilbert Doctorow is the European Coordinator of The American Committee for East West Accord Ltd. His most recent book, Does Russia Have a Future? was published in August 2015. © Gilbert Doctorow, 2016