Thursday, September 8, 2016

Hillary Clinton Competent and Defensive in Commander-in-Chief Forum

In the first ever Commander-in-Chief Forum and the first time both major party candidates were in the same space at nearly the same time, it’s important to realize and acknowledge that people who support either candidate rarely have their minds changed during these forums and debates. If you were against Hillary Clinton before the forum, you were likely unsatisfied with any of her answers. If you were against Donald Trump, there’s likely nothing much he could say to sway your opinion. 

When you watch these events with those acknowledgments and do your best to let go of your personal bias for or against the candidates, there’s an opportunity to learn more about each candidate and where they stand on issues and how they approach matters that come before them.
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This was the first real opportunity for Donald Trump to display any foreign policy knowledge that he may have learned over the course of the campaign from advisors and also to display his judgment and temperament on these foreign policy and military issues. Trump, who won the coin toss, elected to go second, so Secretary Clinton was up first which gave Trump the lasting impression of the night, for better or worse.

Here you will find a separate discussion on his conversation during this Commander-in-Chief Forum. 

For Hillary Clinton, however, this was a crash course in why hiding yourself from the media throughout much of the summer while having decades of real time experience may not have been the wisest choice.
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Hillary, a bit wooden at first, managed to loosen up midway through her half hour. Nearly half of her time was spent explaining and defending her use of a private email server 7 years ago and her Iraq War vote 14 years ago. 

One of the main concerns that plagues a candidate like Hillary Clinton, having had positions to gain experience by making choices, is accruing future issues of concern for voters, pundits, and most importantly critics to parse for years and decades to come.

Hillary’s problems with some voters with regard to her use of a private email server continue to persist. She did herself no favor in this forum by coming into it having such a lack of her own experience in fielding these questions by the press. 
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Of course Matt Lauer, the moderator, was going to ask about the set up of the email server as it calls into question her judgment. She was cleared by the FBI, umpteen congressional investigations have amounted to nothing new as well, and a drip, drip, drip persists from seemingly every source on this issue. 

I do think the question about the Iraq War vote should have also been expected. And, Hillary rightly pointed out Trump’s own support of the war in Iraq and in going into Libya. Both of these claims have been fact-checked as true. Both continue to be denied by Trump, even during his part of the forum. 

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Unfortunately for Hillary, that doesn’t leave a lot of time for policies and prescriptions for veteran issues and for how she would wield our military power abroad. However, she managed to slide in quite a lot of substance in a short amount of time. She was specific about the VA, not wanting it to be privatized. She rattled off specific groups, organizations, and agencies regarding critical veteran issues, although this probably means less to average Americans than it does to military families and veterans. 

Hillary’s one major misstep was stating there would be no ground troops in Iraq or Syria ever again. That’s just a flat out denial of the realities on the ground. Of course, the thousands of American troops that are on the ground there are special forces as well as the military advisors to the Iraqis. These troops aren’t the hundreds of thousands of ground troops that were present during the Iraq War. This just seemed to be a statement to assuage the far left wing of the Democratic Party and other independents who are so anti-war and anti-engagement that they can’t deal with the term ‘ground troops’ in any form.
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For these reasons, Hillary Clinton, although she showed a command of the facts and the issues, probably didn’t win any new supporters from the Commander-in-Chief forum. She, at least, didn’t do any great harm. If anything, this opportunity did expose a couple weaknesses she has on a couple specific issues. And, if history is any indicator, she will be far better at fielding those questions at her next opportunity.   

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