Hiring a President

When hiring someone for an important job, it is of course important to assess whether or not that person has the skills you think are necessary for doing the job well.  But it’s important to also assess what they think are the important aspects of the job, and make sure these line up with what you think are the most important job factors.  You want to know what they are ‘passionate’ about, to employ a currently-overused term.

And when hiring an executive, keep in mind that you are also likely gaining access to his network of former employees, customers, suppliers, consulting firms, etc.  A similar but even more powerful dynamic plays out in politics, as Daniel Henninger of the WSJ reminds us:

A recurring campaign theme of this column has been that the celebrifying of our presidential candidate obscures the reality that we are not just just electing one famous person.  We will be voting into power an entire political party, which has consequences for the country’s political direction no matter what these candidates say or promise.

By that measure, there is a reason not to turn over the job of fighting global terrorism to the Democrats.  They don’t want it.

So, what are they key aspects of the Presidential job that needs to be done over the next four years, and how do the candidates and their beliefs about what is important stack up against those factors?  Here’s my list..

The suppression of radical Islamic terrorism.  Henninger is completely correct: the Democrats don’t want this job.  Henninger notes that during a House hearing in 2005, Guantanamo Bay was denounced (almost entirely by Democrats, I am sure) as ‘the Gulag of our times.’  Whereas GOP Congressman Mike Pence correctly responded that the comparison was ‘anti-historical, irresponsible and the type of rhetoric that endangers American lives.’

Henninger continues: ‘Dahir Adan invoked Allah while stabbing his way through the Minneapolis mall.  Both Mrs Clinton and President Obama consistently accuse their opponents of waging a war on all practitioners of the Islamic religion. Presumably, if instead we were being attached by Martians, they’d say any criticism of Martians was only alienating us from all the People on Mars. The problem is we aren’t getting killed by Martians or Peruvians or Finns but by men and women yelling ‘Allah Akbar’…Virtually all Democratic politicians refuse to make this crucial distinction.’

The protection of free expression. As long as we have free speech and a free press, there is a possibility that our array of problems can be solved.  But once this crucial feedback connection is cut, problems of all kinds are likely to compound themselves until catastrophe happens.

Remember, Hillary Clinton’s response to the Benghazi murders was to blame them on an American filmmaker exercising his Constitutional rights, and to threaten to have him arrested.  Which threat she was indeed able to carry into execution.

And note that Hillary Clinton’s Democratic Party is closely aligned with the forces on college campuses which are creating a real nightmare for anyone–student or professor–who dissents from the ‘progressive’ orthodoxy or who even demonstrates a normal sense of humor.

There is a very strong tendency among Democrats to call for the forcible government suppression of political dissidents, and to carry this belief into action when they can get away with it:  the witch-hunt in Wisconsin and the IRS persecution of conservative organizations and individuals being only two of many examples.  More here.

Trump is by no means ideal on this metric: he is thin-skinned and has shown himself to be very litigious.  But he is far preferable from a free-expression standpoint to Clinton and the forces that she represents.

Economic growth.  Clinton herself would surely like to see economic growth, if only  for political reasons.  But there is in the Democratic Party a very strong strain that believes America is too wealthy, that our people have too many luxuries, that we need to be taken down a peg. I have even seen attacks by ‘progressives’ on the existence of air conditioning. The Democrats are generally willing to sacrifice economic growth on the altar of environmental extremism and to serve their trial-lawyer clients. Sexual politics represents another cause for which growth is readily sacrificed by Democrats–remember when Obama’s ‘shovel-ready’ stimulus package was first mooted, there was an outcry from left-leaning feminist groups concerned that it would be too focused on ‘jobs for burly men.’

And whatever her ‘small business plan’ may be in her latest policy statement, Hillary has an underlying dismissiveness to those small businesses–the vast majority of them—that do not enjoy venture capital funding.  Remember her remark, when told back in the Bill Clinton administration, that aspects of her proposed healthcare plan would be destructive to small businesses?  Her response was:  “I can’t be responsible for every undercapitalized small business in America.”  No one was asking her to be responsible for them, of course; only to refrain from wantonly destroying them.

It is important to note that many of the top Democratic constituencies don’t really need to care, on a personal level, about economic growth. Tenured academics have salaries and benefit packages which are largely decoupled from the larger economy.  Hedge-fund managers often believe they can make money as readily in a down market as an up market. Many if not most lawyers are more dependent for their incomes on the legal climate than the economy. Very wealthy individuals may care more about social signaling than about money per se, given that they already have so much of the latter.  And the poor and demoralized will in many cases care more about transfer payments than about the growth of the economy.

Improving K-12 Education.  Much of the nation’s public school system is a disaster.  There is no chance that Hillary would would care enough about fixing this system, and preventing or at least mitigating its destruction of generation after generation, to be willing to take on the ‘blob’…the teachers’ unions, the ed schools…these being key Democratic constituencies.  Also: the Democratic obsession with race/ethnicity has led to demands from the Administration that school disciplinary decisions must follow racial quotas.  Policies such as this, which would surely continue under a Clinton administration, make it virtually impossible for schools to maintain a learning environment for those students who do want to learn.

The current state of K-12 education is a major inhibitor to social mobility in America.  Anyone who claims to care about the fate of families locked into poverty, while at the same time supporting a Hillary Clinton presidency, is either kidding themselves or straight-out lying.


Saving Higher Education.  Although there are excellent individual professors and university departments–even some excellent universities–the American system of higher education is increasingly becoming a sick joke, and a very expensive one.  There is absolutely no reason to believe that Hillary Clinton wants to change this trend line; indeed, her policies would accelerate the decline by shoveling vast amounts of additional taxpayer money to these institutions.

Maintaining American power and preventing great-power war…especially nuclear war. While Islamic terrorism may be the main threat to American security, it is not the only threat.  Conflict with Russia is now far more of a possibility than we would have imagined 10 years ago, and conflict with China is also not out of the question. North Korea is mounting its nuclear weapons on ballistic missiles; Pakistan is a state with nuclear weapons and significant industrial capability, with strong extremist Islamic forces influencing its government; and Iran seems likely to acquire nuclear weapons either through indigenous development or by purchasing them from another power.

Trump is more isolationist than I like, but Hillary Clinton has clearly demonstrated an inability to conduct great-power diplomacy effectively, for example with her ridiculous ‘reset button’ exercise.

The closest we have ever come to nuclear war (excluding purely technical failures in the American and Soviet warning systems) was during the administration of John F. Kennedy. This was at least in part because Kennedy had come across as ‘weak’ in earlier negotiations with Khrushchev:  the Soviet premier thought he could take advantage of that perceived weakness, whereas it was very important psychologically to Kennedy to signal his ‘toughness.’

I think a similar scenario would be likely with a Hillary Clinton presidency:  a very dangerous combination of projected weakness coupled with an urgent need to come across as tough.  Furthermore:  unlike Kennedy, Hillary Clinton seems to be a very bitter person.  Bitterness and ultimate power do not safely go well together.

The avoidance of a permanent ruling class.  The crystallization of a permanent American ruling class, based on Ivy League degrees, family ties, and interlocking government/business/’nonprofit’ connection, now seems like a real possibility.  It should be completely obvious that a Hillary Clinton presidency would go a long way toward reinforcing this tendency and making it unrecoverable.

The healing of American society.  The political and social divisions in American society today are extreme, and do not bode well for the long term.  Neither of the candidates is ideal to address this problem, to put it mildly.  Trump is bombastic and sometimes crude in his speech; he has exhibited less-than-wholesome attitudes…indeed, repulsive attitudes…toward women.  But Hillary’s whole political existence is based on divisiveness; the breaking of American society into interest groups and the setting of them against one another.  There is also considerable hostility toward men embedded in the ‘progressive’ movement of which Hillary is the avatar, and sometimes exhibited by Hillary herself.  The Democrats have also repeatedly demonstrated great contempt for broad swaths of American society: Christians, ‘rednecks,’ people without college degrees, etc etc.

There is plenty to dislike about Donald Trump.  But there is also plenty to dislike about Hillary Clinton, and one or the other of them is almost certainly going to be President.  In my judgment, the chances of the United States surviving as a free, safe, and prosperous society are far greater with Trump than with Clinton.

33 thoughts on “Hiring a President”

  1. “By that measure, there is a reason not to turn over the job of fighting global terrorism to the Democrats. They don’t want it.”

    As the US is the major cause of global terror, they are smart enough to understand the inherent contradictions.

  2. Eric Metaxas, in today’s WSJ:

    “A vote for Donald Trump is not necessarily a vote for Donald Trump himself. It is a vote for those who will be affected by the results of this election.”

  3. May WeedMan Trudeau salt your entire community with inbred religious savages, Penny. And may they teach you all about what makes the Middle East the Middle East.

  4. Yeah we have a multicultural society and don’t require anyone to be anything other than what they are.

    Let me take you back a bit, to before 9/11 when the world was not nearly as dangerous. You took a sledgehammer to a fly and wrecked the place. Now it’s very dangerous.

  5. Some of the things mentioned are no business of the President. I reread the Constitution even few years, still hoping to see why the Prez is responsible for the economy, or the primary and secondary schools. I fail each time. His responsibility for tertiary education doesn’t seem to me to extend beyond oversight of federal research funding, and the hiring policies of the federal government.

    It’s like looking for the bit where the Union is responsible for abortion law: it just ain’t there.

  6. Good post. I would include the Supreme Court in your list. I’m not confident that Trump would nominate a strict constitutionalist, but his worst picks would be on par with Hillary’s best picks.

  7. Dearieme…”Some of the things mentioned are no business of the President. I reread the Constitution even few years, still hoping to see why the Prez is responsible for the economy, or the primary and secondary schools. I fail each time. His responsibility for tertiary education doesn’t seem to me to extend beyond oversight of federal research funding, and the hiring policies of the federal government.”

    Whether or not the President has a defined constitutional responsibility for education, the present administration is exercising enormous influence on it. For example:




  8. “The suppression of radical Islamic terrorism.” The American people don’t care. They want to be left alone, and for everyone to be nice.
    “The protection of free expression.” The American people don’t care. They want everyone to be nice. Not-nice people shouldn’t be tolerated.
    “Economic growth.” The American people don’t care. They want the economy to be fair.
    “Improving K-12 Education.” The American people don’t care. Their local school is their day care. Schools anywhere else don’t matter.
    “Saving Higher Education.” The American people don’t care. Nothing pithy to say. They just don’t care.
    “Maintaining American power” The American people don’t care. Every county, like every person, should be equal. And nice.
    “The avoidance of a permanent ruling class.” The American people don’t care. They want their political leaders to be nice. (Ha, ha, sob, sob.)
    “The healing of American society.” We’ll be healed when everyone’s nice.

  9. I have thought that this is no different from The Apprentice, except that we are the boss reviewing 2 contestants.

  10. So, the world, and especially the Middle East was a perfectly tranquil garden, before 9-11?

    Yeah, sure. An analysis here, which I did some years ago, after hearing one too many bleats about how it was so much safer before …

    Not so much, actually – but since the casualties involved were mostly diplomatic and military personnel, or unfortunate tourists who were in the wrong place at the wrong time, such incidents barely made the stateside newspapers. But for us stationed overseas? Yep – we knew all about it.

    It turned out, once I began calling up names and incidents – to be a two-part post.

    Part One – http://www.ncobrief.com/index.php/archives/one-pct-pimentel-by-name/

    Part Two – http://www.ncobrief.com/index.php/archives/pvt-pimentel-looking-over-my-shoulder-always/

  11. Don’t overlook the opportunity to replace all those political appointees salted liberally throughout the federal government (the current number per FEDWeek is about 2800, up from just over 300 under the Bush administration). If you even want the fig leaf of attempting to lead turn the Administrative State, you’ll need to clean house a bit.

    And I think this is a vastly under-appreciated reason to elect Trump.

  12. “The problem is we aren’t getting killed by Martians”

    In the TV miniseries that has been suppressed by Disney/ABC, which was called “The Path to 9/11,” there is a brief sequence after 9/11 when one person, a federal officer, asks “Who could have done this to us?” The other says, “Who do you think ? The fuc*ing Martians?”

    Maybe someday we will be able to see it again.

  13. Thank you for a very clear and detailed post, David. I’ve bookmarked it so I can remind myself once a day why it’s still important to vote for the sleazy clown.

    It would be interesting to ask the Progressive Fashionista daughter how she feels about the key issues you list… I’d really like to know, separate from evaluating the candidates, what she thinks about each topic: desirable/important, desirable/unnecessary or trivial, undesirable.

    I suspect she will dismiss most of your points as non-issues.

  14. Liberals have redoubts sprinkled all through society, almost all of them financed by taxpayers.

    Put aside for the moment the scandalous practice of diverting court settlements intended to go to the Dept. of Justice to social welfare grievance groups, and just focus on the more standard hives of villainy.

    Trump needs to gut a lot of the civil service which has forgotten their mission of being impartial agents of government. I’m not talking political appointees, I’m talking about career civil servants. No one should be entitled to lifetime employment. Fire hundreds of thousands of these people who’ve crossed boundaries and replace them with internal promotions and by hiring new people into the civil service. A kind of up or out program. Maybe throw some job cutbacks into the mix.

    Lots of young people and those in their early 30s suddenly being hired by the federal government would be a good thing, just like air traffic controllers being hired after Reagan fired the PATCO controllers. The old civil servants who abused their authority can now go and work at Starbucks.

    The big target though is education. The sector needs a big pruning. Link together student loan default rates with funding to the university. Let them reform themselves and cut the deadwood.

    Hollywood tax increases because so many leftists love tax increases.

    Play for keeps. Make substantive reforms and deal severe damage to liberal nerve centers.

    Media is a huge problem. The need to be targeted for their in-kind contributions to the Democrats. This is no different than if an oil company was making a contribution. This is going to be tricky territory due to 1st Amendment concerns but I’m sure that some innovative angle can be developed. After all, the Left loves arguing that corporations don’t have speech rights, well the NYT is a corporation, so is Comcast, etc. Let them transform into proprietorships in order to be exempt.

  15. I’m getting pessimistic about Trump’s chances. I’m trying to envision a post-election season after Hillary wins.

    It’s really difficult. She won’t need the Obama pardon. The Senate will confirm Garland and Ginsberg will retire.

    I’m planning to move to Arizona around the first of the year. I wonder if the feds will attack Texas and other red states, like Arizona ?

    I ordered more ammunition. I expect gun and ammo sales will go through the roof.

    I’m already expecting a big stock market and real estate crash next year, Especially California real estate which is wildly overvalued.

    Lots of conservatives hunkering down.

  16. I guess, Victor Davis Hanson has already explained it.

    The same lose/lose dilemmas plague current foreign policy. Under the Obama administration, the old postwar order led by the security guarantees of the United States abruptly ended—the vacuum filled by ascendant regional (and often nuclear) hegemons. Russia is expanding control, or at least influence, over the old Soviet republics and Eastern Europe. China carves out a new version of the old Japanese Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere at the expense of the democracies in Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, and Australia. Iran is on the path to be the nuclear adjudicator of the Persian Gulf’s oil depot. Radical Islamic terrorism has made the Middle East a wasteland.

    It’s worth reading the whole thing, as Insty says.

  17. “Radical Islamic terrorism has made the Middle East a wasteland.” That rather denies due credit to Slick Willie, W and O.

  18. Dr Mike:
    Sell your house in CA, and do a ‘lease’ for a specified period of time. Get the cash and be free to leave when the spirit moves.
    My spouse lived from kindergarden age to mid-adulthood in the SF Bay Area. She wants to move back. Crudely put, Ain’t gonna happen. Both homes I sold, one in ’84, the second in ’92 have appreciated from $114K and $210K respectively to $1.25M and around $1M. I can’t even afford to pay the property tax. There is a ‘balloon’ happening, IMO.
    Sell. Pay the taxman his money, don’t look back, and you still likely have enough to pay cash for AZ. Rent or lease if you must remain for a 1-2 year period.

    I am afraid that the MSM sewer and waste scrapings will be enough to discourage some people, even though there are more things at stake than the actual Presidency.
    SCOTUS, immigration, taxes, economy, terrorists, and I can’t name them all. HRC has been in or around the making of this odious stew for more than 1/4 century, and has aided and abetted criminal enterprise to feed her ambition.
    She should not have ‘the ring’ as it appears she desires possession more than the Gollum. That desire, in and of itself, should be a warning to all of honest and true character. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. She has shown no ability to defeat the desire for power and corruption, even in the face of multiple examples of bad behavior by her spouse. She wanted power more than she wanted honesty between her and her spouse. And, no matter what, she will be in the history books, as a carbuncle or ‘patriot’ of some sort.
    I actually do fear for the future generations more than ever. She is not a good person, much as John Edwards was not a good person. She just has not been exposed as such. Yet.

  19. “I’m getting pessimistic about Trump’s chances. I’m trying to envision a post-election season after Hillary wins.”

    If Trump continues to decline, don’t forget we also have to factor in Democrats winning the Senate.

    Even though Hillary screwed Bernie and his supporters to get nominated, the Dems will give them the consolation prize of social justice and equality programs. Get ready for even higher taxes and income redistribution schemes. They’re already re-branding failed environmental protection as “environmental justice” such as with recruitment of Indian tribes to fight pipeline expansion. This will put the breaks on the fracking boom. Ironically, rates are going up, which will bring a stronger dollar. This would ordinarily help domestic production and re-shoring, but punitive fiscal policies and attack legislative will flush all the capital to Mexico.

    The one thing I’m wondering about is the specific retribution in store for the ‘Deplorables’. Wealth confiscation and de-employment is too subtle. I’m thinking about the aftermath of the Turkish coup and how they can put an American varnish on the same methods and outcomes.

  20. TomW,

    I sold my house several years ago thinking that real estate would keep going down. It didn’t but I am liquid and thinking of Tucson. I’m back with my wife from 30 years ago and she has also sold her house so we are unencumbered except with children and grandchildren.

    I almost moved to Tucson when I sold my house but my daughter-in-law was unhappy that I would be so far away. Now, they are pretty much in agreement.

    We are looking. The America 3.0 development might come to pass in the next ten years, which is all I care about at this age.

    I remember in the 70s when most people I knew were setting up food stores and anticipating survival situations. Then Reagan came along,

    Trump is no Reagan but he is the possibility of breaking the iron triangle of politicians, public employee unions and crony capitalist “green corporations” which of course are interested in our “Green” not the climate.

    Science has been corrupted. It’s hard to find an institution that is not corrupt. Colleges are useless except for STEM majors and that may not last.

    Medical school is changing as women dominate the students and faculty. I have seen that up close. I know young doctors and most primary care docs are very unhappy with their life.

    My old surgical group, which ran the trauma center I founded in 1979, was fired by the hospital a year ago. They hired new surgeons that no one knew to run it. Four of five are women and the fifth is a failed applicant to the group. One of the group has left the area and the others are on their own as the hospital is now controlling referrals and doctors who have been on the staff for 30 years are no longer allowed to admit patients based on their judgement. They have to have permission.

    The permission comes from bureaucrats who run things. The Director of the Operating Room is a chiropractor and the brother-in-law of the administrator whose background was with Pepsicola.

    They were quite excited about Obamacare which puts them in control of the doctors except for a few holdouts.

    A friend of mine and excellent gastroenterologist has an office with a great endoscopy suite that he built 30 years ago.

    Recently, he was invited to start using the hospital’s suite. Why would he do that, except for patients already hospitalized ? He was told that it would be a “good idea ” to do so.

    He looked at the suite and asked to see some charts of cases. He told me all had excessive lab tests ordered.

    Before the FBI was corrupted,they called that “Fraud.”

    Long story. I’m glad I’m retired.

    Tucson has excellent health care.

  21. “You had a point, Penny? You’re welcome.”

    Well that might be open to argument, but all my machines, I have built, have been called ‘point’. ;)

  22. Trump isn’t of Codevilla’s “Ruling Class” nor is he compliant; of course he seems wildly disproportionate, not always a serious candidate or leader, and more than a bit vulgar. But then, why is it vulgar for him to bring up Clinton’s baggage but vulgar for him to have what appears some smaller bags himself?

  23. I don’t know why it popped up in my mind, but I was thinking about George S Patton Jr. and how he too was vilified and demonized by his inferiors,for not being politically correct.

  24. Holy cow. Another glimmer of insight by Peggy Noonan. However, she doesn’t give enough emphasis to the mediocrity of the clerisy. They seem only exceptional in their deceitfulness and sneakiness ala Gruber and Rhodes. BTW, I would have put BANAL and PAROCHIAL in all caps.

    “When I read that I imagined a conversation with my grandmother, an immigrant who was a bathroom attendant at the Abraham & Straus department store in Brooklyn. Me: “Grandma, being Catholic is now a step up. It means you’re an aristocrat! A stupid one, but still.” Grandma, blinking: “America truly is a country of miracles.”

    Here’s what you see in the emails: the writers are the worst kind of snobs, snobs with nothing to recommend them. In their expression and thoughts they are common, banal, dumb, uninformed, parochial.

    I don’t know about you but when people look down on me I want them to be distinguished or outstanding in some way—towering minds, people of exquisite sensibility or learning. Not these grubbly poseurs, these people who’ve never had a thought but only a sensation: Christians are backward, I saw it in a movie!
    It’s the big fact of American life now, isn’t it? That we are patronized by our inferiors.”


  25. The UT professor’s piece was excellent.

    Sowell, I have read for years. Recently, I’ve forgotten where, he was dismissed as an ungrateful beneficiary of affirmative action. Another example of the ahistorical nature of the political left.

    He received a bachelor’s degree, graduating magna cum laude[3] from Harvard University in 1958 and a master’s degree from Columbia University in 1959. In 1968, he earned his Doctorate in Economics from the University of Chicago.

    The term “affirmative action” was first used in the United States in “Executive Order No.10925”,[16] signed by President John F. Kennedy on 6 March 1961, which included a provision that government contractors “take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin.”[17] It was used to promote actions that achieve non-discrimination. In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued Executive Order 11246 which required government employers to take “affirmative action” to “hire without regard to race, religion and national origin”. This prevented employers from discriminating against members of disadvantaged groups. In 1967, gender was added to the anti-discrimination list.[18]

    I’ve seen this ignorance of history so many times but it still discourages me.

  26. I think the Left’s dismissive behavior towards Sowell and other black conservatives, such as Clarence Thomas, comes mainly from malice rather than historical ignorance. Sowell has a brilliant and prolific academic record apart from his successful side-career as a popular essayist, and he grew up at a time when black Americans faced open bigotry and very substantial official and private discrimination in employment. Anyone who could characterize him as an AA beneficiary would have to be willfully ignorant of his background, at best.

  27. I think the Left’s dismissive behavior towards Sowell and other black conservatives, such as Clarence Thomas, comes mainly from malice rather than historical ignorance.

    I think you are probably correct. Still, to read Clarence Thomas’s book, “My Grandfather’s Son, is an experience everyone should have. I have copies of it to my daughters. I hope they read it.

    I keep hoping Trump can break the fetters the Democrats have on blacks.

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