Jerry Boykin – Secretary Gates Is Wrong: Hillary Clinton Has Already Been “Sized Up” as President—And It Doesn’t Look Good

Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign rally at Dickerson Community Center on October 29, 2016 in Daytona Beach, Florida.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The FBI director’s reopening of its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified emails once again puts a spotlight on her fitness to be commander-in-chief. Throughout this year national security experts have struggled to defend Hillary Clinton’s record on the issue.

Just last month, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece, expressed hope that Mrs. Clinton would be able to repair the damage to her credibility and “address forthrightly her trustworthiness.”  On the last Friday of October, his hopes were dashed.

Let’s examine the facts. Gates is right about one thing: Hillary Clinton has a major “credibility problem.” And it seems worse than Trump’s. Which candidate has already had the opportunity to display credibility in foreign affairs, but has completely failed? Who has been the subject of multiple investigations for setting up a home-brew server, or lying to Congress and the American people about the events in Benghazi?

The answer is Hillary Clinton, who set up a home-brew server which kept her official email communications private. Clinton did this no doubt realizing it could jeopardize American interests, lives, and national security. And if she didn’t realize this, then she’s certainly unfit to be commander-in-chief.

Yet, despite all this, Secretary Gates inferred that Trump is unfit because, in his view, past presidents have surrounded themselves “with independent-minded, knowledgeable and experienced advisers who would tell the president what he needed to hear, not what he wanted to hear. Sometimes presidents would take their advice, sometimes not. But they always listened.” Fair enough. It does however, leave me wondering how much of Secretary Gates’ advice was ignored by President Obama. In his book, Duty, Gates says that 2010 “….was a year of continued conflict and a couple of important White House breeches of faith.”  Mr. Gates explains that he was surprised by the announcement by the president of the implementation and timing of the repeal of the “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” policy for the military. Is this not something that the commander-in-chief should have consulted on with his Secretary of Defense?  Maybe Secretary Gates should have resigned in protest if he really believes listening to advice is important. It doesn’t sound as if Secretary Clinton really listened to any advice when she set up her own server against all US government regulations.

Moreover, Clinton — not Trump — will be the commander-in-chief who would continue President Obama’s destructive, weak, and absolutely failed philosophy for how to approach world conflicts and the struggles between good and evil that inform them. Indeed, it’s the absence of a clear sense of good and evil which has caused President Obama to fail to grasp the struggle between radical Islam and true freedom. Mrs. Clinton was the architect of the Libyan policy that sent Americans into combat against what was a fairly benign dictator at the time, Moamar Gadhafi. All this was done with no consent or even notification of the US Congress. This is not a record that qualifies her for the position of commander-in-chief.

The more the evidence mounts that violent attacks across Europe and the United States (and indeed, the Middle East, Africa, and elsewhere) are driven by people who justify their killing sprees under Islamic theology, the more important it is to have a president who understands the nature of the enemy. Hillary has parroted the same rhetoric as Mr. Obama in denying what motivates Jihadists. Is that what we need in the next leader of our armed forces? Not if we take our national security seriously.

Mrs. Clinton personally lied to the nation and more importantly, to the families of the four people killed in Benghazi when she blamed an obscure video for prompting the attack. Committing the US military to combat is one of the most serious decisions any president will ever make. There is no reason to believe that Mrs. Clinton is someone that Americans should trust with the lives of their sons and daughters.

Donald Trump isn’t perfect. It is understandable for Secretary Gates to point out problems with both candidates. But his uniformly declaring Trump unfit (and Clinton fit) to be president does nothing to help America face the unavoidable challenges the next president will have to face. At least Trump understands the very basic fact—a fact which has managed to escape President Obama (and those who think like him)—that there exist violent people who are motivated by radical Islam (we can take their word for it), who want to do us harm, and who directly threaten the existence of our free society as we currently know it. We must not be ashamed in making this observation. Our survival depends on it.

Secretary Gates is right about one thing: “[w]e have to make a decision.” Unlike him, however, I and many others believe the answer is quite the opposite.

Lt. General (Ret.) Jerry Boykin was one of the original members of the U.S. Army’s Delta Force and was also Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence (2002-2007.). He currently serves as Executive Vice President at Family Research Council.