For all the attention lavished on Donald Trump’s many flaws, there’s a deafening silence in the UK media about Hillary Clinton’s own defects as a US presidential candidate. They are not unconnected. Given the Republican’s illiberalism, nobody seems to want to say anything that might undermine the only person standing between him and the most powerful office on earth.
Yet we’re kidding ourselves if we think Clinton will be anything other than a bad President. There are the decades of scandals. Email-gate, Benghazi-gate and questions about her finances. She may have always had an answer, but they put into focus her judgement, her sense of sublime entitlement and her intimacy with very powerful special interests within the US and beyond.
Her policies don't stand up to much scrutiny, either. Trump’s protectionism would be disastrous. And, yes, his calls for a renegotiation of of trade deals and high tariffs on Chinese imports go well beyond anything Clinton proposes. But the Democrat is no free-trader. She now opposes Obama’s Pacific trade deal, has shifted against openness more generally since the start of the campaign, and it’s unlikely she’ll do much to champion free trade with Britain post-Brexit.
On tax, spending and regulation, Clinton wants more of each. Trump would like to cut America’s excessive rate of corporation tax from 35 per cent to 15 per cent, but Hillary thinks even the current burden is too low, despite evidence that it’s workers and consumers who bear the load. Across the board, for Clinton, “fairer taxes” mean higher and more complex taxes. Ignoring America’s wildly successful private sector shale gas firms, which have delivered cheaper energy while reducing carbon emissions, she plans to engineer a “clean energy” revolution through, you guessed it, a massive programme of government spending.
Meanwhile, Clinton is a hawk. The neocon architects of George W Bush’s Iraq strategy have flocked to her side, seeing her as willing to make greater use of US power to “fix” conflicts across the world. Readers will disagree about the wisdom of this, but with the West in a game of brinkmanship with Putin’s Russia, hitherto “cold” conflicts could heat up if she wins the White House.
Trump versus Hillary: Americans face more of a dilemma than a choice.