There are three simple facts about Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy that are not disputable — even by Trump supporters. The undisputed facts about Donald Trump — that he has used bigoted words about Mexicans, questioned the integrity of a federal judge because of his Mexican heritage, mocked a disabled reporter, used misogynistic words while bragging on tape about conduct that is the functional equivalent of criminal sexual assault, recommended the spread of nuclear weapons — are for another column.
But first let’s agree on the facts that cannot be disputed even by Trump supporters about Hillary Clinton. Facts are facts.
First, Hillary Clinton has spent her life involved in public service and has a public and voting record that is progressive.
I first met Hillary at Yale when I was in my third year at Yale Law School in September 1969, and she was an incoming first year. I was standing on line to register for classes, and I turned around and saw her right behind me. I recognized her from her photo in a national news magazine that I had seen the night before about a highly regarded speech she had given at her Wellesley College commencement the previous June. I introduced myself and asked her whether there was any advice I could offer her about Yale Law School — what courses to take, what professors were best, how to read cases and study, etc. Her response: “You could help me — where is the nearest legal services clinic that I could volunteer for?”
When I questioned whether she would have the time, she responded: “The reason I came to law school is to help me do public service.”
Wow, I thought. This person is unusual — she is going places. The more I got to know her that year in law school, the more I thought she would someday be president. I kid you not.
Her life’s work has been devoted to public service and helping others, especially helping children and health care policy — that is a fact. Through the years as First Lady of Arkansas and in the White House, eight years as a U.S. senator, her position on all the major issues has been as a progressive Democrat with a reputation of working well with Republicans.
Her one mistake — shared by 26 other progressive U.S. Democratic senators, and many others — was supporting the Iraq War Resolution in October 2003. She has since said she made a mistake. This contrasts with Trump, who never admits to a mistake even when he challenged the sincerity of a Gold Star Muslim mother.
Fact two is Hillary’s unquestioned superior experience and qualifications to be President. As President Barack Obama said at the Democratic National Convention and many times since, there is no one who has ever — ever — been as qualified to be President of the United States in the history of our country, and he included himself and former President Bill Clinton LAW ’73 on that list. Trump says his lack of experience in government and his experience as a business man — including bankrupting four companies — are advantages.
Fact three is her compassion and empathy for those who are less fortunate than she. She is a person who has spent her life helping children, the poor, those less fortunate and those who are the objects of discrimination and absence of equal opportunity. In other words, she meets the definition of a moral leader eloquently defined by former Senator and Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey: “It was once said that the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”
That is the Hillary I have known for 47 years. That is the Hillary Clinton who I know, who I am certain, will make a great President of the United States.
Lanny Davis ’67 LAW ’70, a former Chairman of the News, served as special counsel to President Bill Clinton between 1996 and 1998 and has remained friends with Secretary Hillary Clinton for more than 47 years. He wrote this column, which also appeared on the Hill, at the request of the News as part of an insider series.