Spencer Bradley ’16 Women in Leadership
“I’m ready for Hillary,” was the campaign slogan for Hilary Clinton’s campaign slogan in 2012. But are we ready for Hillary Clinton anymore today than we were eight years ago? While considered the front runner of the Democratic Party, should she choose to accept the nomination, Hillary Clinton faces challenges to her potential presidential run. First and foremost is the double edged sword of her tenure as the Secretary of State.
Clinton’s foreign policy record has left a massive mark in the eyes of the voters, with the Huffington Post stating that, “Clinton even surpassed her former boss, President Obama, by 14 percentage points in the category of ‘strong and decisive’ leader.” The population is backing Hillary’s credentials, as indicated by her service in the ending of the Iraq war, the Arab Spring and the strengthening of American international reputation. The philosophy of the state department was extension of American friendship, which for the most part worked well with our allies. However, Clinton’s foreign policy record is tainted by two State Department legacies that will impact her potential of taking the election for the Democrats: Benghazi and missing funds.
Benghazi was a devastating event for the State Department, as well as the Obama administration, giving Republicans the ability to call for restructuring of the State Department for, “competency issues.” Bear in mind that, “Benghazi was a tragedy for which the State Department bore much responsibility; but, after the Bush years, the rest of the Administration’s record is no minor achievement.” The State Department was faced with the removal from the Middle East conflicts, as well as other engagements within the region. Clinton’s policy as Secretary of State was characterized as clean up of the Bush years. If Clinton can use that momentum against the war and conflicts in the region, then Benghazi may be hand waved away in the eyes of Independents and Democrats. If anything, as characterized by her strategy as Secretary enacting Obama’s policy to the letter, Clinton may run against her party’s image. However, what is dangerous to her potential as president is missing funds from the State Department.
A recent report found that six billion funds went unaccounted for during Clinton’s tenure. The six billion in unaccounted funds poses a “significant financial risk and demonstrates a lack of internal control over the Department’s contract actions,” according to the report. The loss of funds in a recession is troubling to any candidate and calls into question Clinton’s ability to lead her own department and manage her house. This will prove to be the second challenge to Clinton.
However, what is of note is the “double standard” applied to women in politics, with Nancy Pelosi agreeing to the views of Clinton, “If Hillary Clinton thinks there is a double standard – she’s been in the main event, and that is a presidential race – then I respect that.” If Clinton were a man, perhaps the vitriol towards her character would be focused on the overall State Department, rather than one human being. Whether Clinton was personally involved is currently irrelevant, but until the loss of funds is explained, this will be the weakness that could prevent Clinton from carrying the Democrats to victory during the 2016 election.
Americans want a more transparent government. Missing funds does not speak highly of competency in government. What Clinton must do, in order to alleviate the concerns about her department’s transparency, is to go on the offensive. The longer this goes undisclosed, the more likely Republicans will mobilize this as a quality against her credentials. If she takes a page out of Chris Christie’s recent handling of his own scandal and let an investigation clear her, she would speak volumes to voters as a trust-worthy politician, a commodity in today’s political climate.