My turn: Mrs. Clinton could be one of the finest presidents

Posted: Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The problem I have with Barack Obama's candidacy is the lack of evidence that he is qualified to be president. He was not a particularly distinguished member of the Illinois state Senate (where he voted "present" an inordinate number of times). His three years of service in the U. S. Senate have been entirely pedestrian. It mystifies me that so many bright, admirable people support him for the Democratic nomination.

No doubt about it, Obama is a spell-binding orator (but then so was William Jennings Bryan). He is personally appealing with an inspirational sort of charm, much like John F. Kennedy, and this worries me, too. Though still popular at the tragic end of his short presidency, JFK's popularity was very much based on style, not substance. The substance came later, when the profoundly less charismatic Lyndon Baines Johnson assumed the presidency. It troubles me that these parallels aren't seen more clearly.

The Obama craze is a phenomenon of the pop culture that would be harmless enough were it not likely to result in the wrong person becoming president.

I have been following presidential elections closely since the Truman-Dewey campaign of 1948. In my judgment, no person has stood for that office over all those years more suitably equipped to lead our nation than Hillary Clinton.

The name of Adlai Stevenson comes to mind, but the strength of Stevenson's character was never tested as has been the case with Clinton. For more than 15 years she has been the target of a relentless, multi-million dollar campaign of character assassination. In subtle ways, and for reasons that are hard to fathom, some in the media continue with that effort.

The "hate Hillary campaign" has been successful in convincing much of the public that she is the opposite of who she really is. Try as they might, however, over the course of a general election campaign, the television pundits would not be able to prevent the public from finding out who and what kind of person Clinton is. Her performance in the debates has already caused suspicion that she is quite different from the person we have been led to believe she is.

Two decades of battering by the difficult circumstances of her life have not driven Clinton into the shadows. The optimism, the courage, the grace and the toughness demonstrated by this woman over the years should be enough to convince anyone that she is on another plane from the other candidates in terms of emotional strength. It has become clear that she is an uncommonly brilliant person with an understanding of the issues that goes beyond anything we have seen in any of the other candidates.

An aspect of Clinton's life you never hear referred to by television news "analysts" is the matter of her having been a serious, Bible-reading, praying Christian all of her life. She has never been willing to politicize her faith, yet is sustained by that faith. Clinton subscribes to Sermon on the Mount principles rather than to the rigid edicts of the radical-right. When thoughtful Evangelical Christians begin to learn who Hillary Clinton is (and who John McCain is), great numbers of them will re-examine their positions and recognize that Hillary is by far the better representative of central Christian values.

My belief is that if Hillary Clinton is nominated and elected, she will take her place as one of this country's finest presidents. I believe that by way of leadership and achievement, rather than by eloquent declarations, she will put us on the right path and quickly restore America to its rightful place in the eyes of the world.

• Charles Campbell is a Juneau resident.

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