IRELAND: Hillary’s record is short on big accomplishments

January 16, 2016

“Wife, mom, grandma, women+kids advocate, FLOTUS, Senator, SecState, hair icon, pantsuit aficionado, 2016 presidential candidate,” reads Clinton’s snarky Twitter biography. There is no doubt the former Secretary of State, senator from New York and first lady has an impressive resume of titles.

But she lacks substantial and defining accomplishments.

Clinton prominently features a piece on her website titled “Seven of Hillary’s Biggest Accomplishments.” Meant to serve as a testament to her years of leadership in Washington and beyond, the piece does a better job ofhighlighting her lack thereof.

A quick rundown on the piece: It highlights that Clinton 1) fought for children and families; 2&3) helped millions of children and 9/11 first responders access health care; 4) told the world that “women’s rights are human rights;” 5) stood up for LGBT rights; 6) helped expand health care and family leave for military families; and 7) negotiated a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

To be blunt, much of this represents either pure folly or underwhelming achievement.

For example, to her fourth point, a speech is simply not an accomplishment. President Reagan did not claim victory over the Soviet Union simply by making the eloquent statement, “Tear down this wall.” For team Clinton to chalk up a turn of phrase as a lasting accomplishment is borderline ludicrous.

Need I remind you on accomplishment five that Clinton only openly endorsed same-sex marriage after the vast majority of Democrats and even some prominent Republican leaders did so. Looking abroad, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice also focused on LGBT rights during their respective terms as Secretary of State. Clinton’s time as secretary was no great leap forward.  

A ceasefire with Israel and Hamas? A bit overstated, to say the least. Generally we celebrate lasting diplomatic solutions, not helping hit the pause button on an unresolved conflict—regardless of how complex it may be.

Generic accomplishments for a manufactured, generic candidate.

Of course, none of this should come as a surprise. Clinton and staff have long struggled to define her record. Not because she lacks the best public relations team money could buy, but because she lacks a record worth defining.

Maybe it can be simply a communications team that needs an upgrade. But as I see this, it goes deeper. The former secretary lacks real substance.  

“If you want to stump a Democrat, ask them to name an accomplishment of Hillary Clinton,” Republican candidate Carly Fiorina often quips. And she is right.

Clinton’s time in the Senate was lackluster, marked by very little legislation. Two of the three bills she sponsored in her eight years were simply to name a post office and a highway. The other was to establish a national historic site.

In comparison to John Kerry’s tenure as Secretary of State, Clinton simply fails to stack up. Even Clinton operatives including her campaign chairman John Podesta have failed to make a compelling case for her time as America’s lead diplomat.

Of course, as first lady, Clinton did champion her own major health care reform now dubbed Hillarycare, a political precursor to the Affordable Care Act. Despite a nationwide bus tour and nearly every ounce of political capital she could muster, the push ultimately fell flat on its face.

The secretary has had every opportunity to score major victories but has consistently proven unable to.

If Clinton continues to struggle to define herself, her greatest accomplishment of the campaign will be handing Republicans control of the White House. Holding a title is not enough.•


Recent Articles by Andrew Ireland / Special to IBJ

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