There wasn’t much left of Drumpf when she was finished.
I was stunned by Hillary Clinton’s amazing “foreign policy” speech on Thursday, a speech in which she not only told the truth about Drumpf, but a speech in which she proved to wobbly Democrats that she not only can take on Drumpf, but she knows how to do it with intelligence, sophistication, and with the appropriate amount of mockery of him and his “policies.”
If you haven’t seen the speech, you should. But you should also read it. Reading, at least for me, makes a different impression on the mind. For the record, I present an extensive look at what I consider her best moments:
Donald Trump’s ideas aren’t just different – they are dangerously incoherent. They’re not even really ideas – just a series of bizarre rants, personal feuds, and outright lies.
He is not just unprepared – he is temperamentally unfit to hold an office that requires knowledge, stability and immense responsibility.
This is not someone who should ever have the nuclear codes – because it’s not hard to imagine Donald Trump leading us into a war just because somebody got under his very thin skin.
We cannot put the security of our children and grandchildren in Donald Trump’s hands. We cannot let him roll the dice with America.
She talked about Drumpf saying countries like Saudi Arabia ought to have nuclear weapons, about his threat to “abandon our allies in NATO,” and about his willingness to default on the nation’s debt. She noted that he would order our military to commit “war crimes” by using torture, and by murdering civilians “who are related to suspected terrorists.” She mentioned that he has said he doesn’t need to listen to any expert because he has “a very good brain.”
She reminded us that Drumpf believes “climate change is a hoax” and that POWs “aren’t heroes” and that he “praises dictators” and “picks fights with our friends.” Mocking him, she wanted us to remember that he thinks “running the Miss Universe pageant in Russia” is “foreign policy experience.” And a blistering critique of the central theme of his campaign came next:
And to top it off, he believes America is weak. An embarrassment. He called our military a disaster. He said we are – and I quote – a “third-world country.” And he’s been saying things like that for decades.
Those are the words my friends of someone who doesn’t understand America or the world.
She goes on to mention how he would increase our national debt to the tune of $30 trillion over twenty years, if his proposals were acted upon. She insisted it was “no small thing” how he has insulted a friendly neighbor, Mexico, by calling “Mexican immigrants rapists and murderers.” She asked why he would want to make Mexico our enemy. And also,
it’s no small thing when he suggests that America should withdraw our military support for Japan, encourage them to get nuclear weapons, and said this about a war between Japan and North Korea – and I quote – “If they do, they do. Good luck, enjoy yourself, folks.”
I wonder if he even realizes he’s talking about nuclear war.
She blistered him and mocked him again for saying we should not have made the nuclear deal with Iran:
Donald Trump doesn’t know the first thing about Iran or its nuclear program. Ask him. It’ll become very clear, very quickly.
There’s no risk of people losing their lives if you blow up a golf-course deal.
But it doesn’t work like that in world affairs. Just like being interviewed on the same episode of “60 Minutes” as Putin was, is not the same thing as actually dealing with Putin.
So the stakes in global statecraft are infinitely higher and more complex than in the world of luxury hotels. We all know the tools Donald Trump brings to the table – bragging, mocking, composing nasty tweets – I’m willing to bet he’s writing a few right now.
But those tools won’t do the trick. Rather than solving global crises, he would create new ones.
He has no sense of what it takes to deal with multiple countries with competing interests and reaching a solution that everyone can get behind. In fact, he is downright contemptuous of that work. And that means he’s much more likely to end up leading us into conflict.
In a discussion about Drumpf wanting “to start a trade war with China,” she refers to him by his first name: “Donald doesn’t see the complexity.” Combine his willingness to start a trade war “with his comments about defaulting on our debt,” she says, “and it’s not hard to see how a Trump presidency could lead to a global economic crisis.” And then continuing to use his first name, she questioned, very carefully, his state of mind:
And I have to say, I don’t understand Donald’s bizarre fascination with dictators and strongmen who have no love for America. He praised China for the Tiananmen Square massacre; he said it showed strength. He said, “You’ve got to give Kim Jong Un credit” for taking over North Korea – something he did by murdering everyone he saw as a threat, including his own uncle, which Donald described gleefully, like he was recapping an action movie. And he said if he were grading Vladimir Putin as a leader, he’d give him an A.
Now, I’ll leave it to the psychiatrists to explain his affection for tyrants.
That was a nice move. One of her best moments. Anytime you can weave psychiatry in with a narrative about Donald you are winning. But she wasn’t finished. She hammered him for the dumb and inconsistent things he has said about ISIS, from letting them “run wild” to attacking them with our nukes to getting into “a ground war” with them. “These are all distinct possibilities with Donald Trump in charge,” she said. And by “demonizing Muslims,” she continued, by trying to ban them from our country, he is giving ISIS “a huge propaganda victory.” She them thumped him again:
A Trump Presidency would embolden ISIS. We cannot take that risk.
This isn’t reality television – this is actual reality.
She got down to some of that reality:
Trump says over and over again, “The world is laughing at us.” He’s been saying this for decades, he didn’t just start this year. He bought full-page ads in newspapers across the country back in 1987, when Ronald Reagan was President, saying that America lacked a backbone and the world was – you guessed it – laughing at us. He was wrong then, and he’s wrong now – and you’ve got to wonder why somebody who fundamentally has so little confidence in America, and has felt that way for at least 30 years, wants to be our President.
The truth is, there’s not a country in the world that can rival us. It’s not just that we have the greatest military, or that our economy is larger, more durable, more entrepreneurial than any in the world. It’s also that Americans work harder, dream bigger – and we never, ever stop trying to make our country and world a better place.
It remains to be seen if a majority of Americans really believe in that vision of America. If they elect Drumpf, that would strongly suggest they don’t. If Drumpf gets shellacked, there is still hope they do. Time will tell.
And now we come to the end of her speech, which I will quote in full. It represents how wrong people have been about Hillary Clinton’s ability as a campaigner, and how wrong they have been about her vision for the country. This entire speech, including the following, was her moment to prove to the doubters, those who haven’t yet made up their minds about her, that she, despite all her flaws and her past mistakes, is ready to assume and manage the awesome power of the American presidency, the awesome power of the United States:
So it really matters that Donald Trump says things that go against our deepest-held values. It matters when he says he’ll order our military to murder the families of suspected terrorists. During the raid to kill bin Laden, when every second counted, our SEALs took the time to move the women and children in the compound to safety. Donald Trump may not get it, but that’s what honor looks like.
And it also matters when he makes fun of disabled people, calls women pigs, proposes banning an entire religion from our country, or plays coy with white supremacists. America stands up to countries that treat women like animals, or people of different races, religions or ethnicities as less human.
What happens to the moral example we set – for the world and for our own children – if our President engages in bigotry?
And by the way, Mr. Trump – every time you insult American Muslims or Mexican immigrants, remember that plenty of Muslims and immigrants serve and fight in our armed forces.
Donald Trump, Donald Trump could learn something from them.
That brings me to the final point I want to make today – the temperament it takes to be Commander-in-Chief.
Every President faces hard choices every day, with imperfect information and conflicting imperatives. That’s the job.
A revolution threatens to topple a government in a key region, an adversary reaches out for the first time in years – what do you do?
Making the right call takes a cool head and respect for the facts. It takes a willingness to listen to other people’s points of view with a truly open mind. It also takes humility – knowing you don’t know everything – because if you’re convinced you’re always right, you’ll never ask yourself the hard questions.
I remember being in the Situation Room with President Obama, debating the potential Bin Laden operation. The President’s advisors were divided. The intelligence was compelling but far from definitive. The risks of failure were daunting. The stakes were significant for our battle against al Qaeda and our relationship with Pakistan. Most of all, the lives of those brave SEALs and helicopter pilots hung in the balance.
It was a decision only the President could make. And when he did, it was as crisp and courageous a display of leadership as I’ve ever seen.
Now imagine Donald Trump sitting in the Situation Room, making life-or-death decisions on behalf of the United States. Imagine him deciding whether to send your spouses or children into battle. Imagine if he had not just his Twitter account at his disposal when he’s angry, but America’s entire arsenal. Do we want him making those calls – someone thin-skinned and quick to anger, who lashes out at the smallest criticism? Do we want his finger anywhere near the button?
I have a lot of faith that the American people will make the right decision. This is a country with a deep reservoir of common sense and national pride. We’re all counting on that.
Because making Donald Trump our commander-in-chief would be a historic mistake. It would undo so much of the work that Republicans and Democrats alike have done over many decades to make America stronger and more secure. It would set back our standing in the world more than anything in recent memory. And it would fuel an ugly narrative about who we are – that we’re fearful, not confident; that we want to let others determine our future for us, instead of shaping our own destiny.
That’s not the America I know and love.
So yes, we have a lot of work to do to keep our country secure. And we need to do better by American families and American workers – and we will. But don’t let anyone tell you that America isn’t great. Donald Trump’s got America all wrong. We are a big-hearted, fair-minded country.
There is no challenge we can’t meet, no goal we can’t achieve when we each do our part and come together as one nation. Every lesson from our history teaches us that we are stronger together. We remember that every Memorial Day. This election is a choice between two very different visions of America. One that’s angry, afraid, and based on the idea that America is fundamentally weak and in decline. The other is hopeful, generous, and confident in the knowledge that America is great – just like we always have been.
Let’s resolve that we can be greater still. That is what I believe in my heart.
I went to 112 countries as your Secretary of State. And I never lost my sense of pride at seeing our blue-and-white plane lit up on some far-off runway, with “The United States of America” emblazoned on the side. That plane – those words – our country represents something special, not just to us, to the world. It represents freedom and hope and opportunity.
I love this country and I know you do too. It’s been an honor and a privilege to serve America and I’m going to do everything I can to protect our nation, and make sure we don’t lose sight of how strong we really are.
Thank you all very much.