For president: A flawed, but capable, Clinton

The Observer editorial board

Clinton AP

We understand why many voters are less-than-enthusiastic about a Hillary Clinton presidency.

She’s chronically less-than-transparent, and that craving for secrecy has led to misjudgments that include her use of a private email server while U.S. Secretary of State.

She’s also less-than-forthright, not only about those emails but throughout her career, from Whitewater to Travelgate to a bungled response in Benghazi.

But the sum of Clinton’s flaws adds up to far less than the danger of Donald Trump. The Republican nominee is a man unfit for the presidency, and one who would steer our country toward peril.

For that reason alone – although there are others – we endorse Hillary Clinton for president.

First, those other reasons: Clinton, despite her substantial flaws, offers a resume that’s among the best of any modern presidential candidate. She has been a successful U.S. senator, a Secretary of State and, of course, a First Lady. She brings a deep and broad knowledge of issues and policy, both domestic and foreign, and she displays a firm, measured temperament. She once even showed a knack for working across the aisle, although we wonder if that’s possible these days.

Both Democrats and Republicans also can find comfort in Clinton’s policy positions. She’s one of the most moderate Democratic nominees in decades, with a fondness for trade deals and a hawkishness on foreign policy that makes the far-left wing of her party uneasy. We share her prescriptions for many of the country's most pressing challenges, such as fixing and strengthening Obamacare and attending to foreign policy with a strong but diplomatic hand.

As for her opponent, well, we’re not entirely sure whether Trump is a moderate or conservative. His policy positions are wholly different from years ago. They also can change from month to month.

But that may be one of the least alarming things about him. Here’s what should truly trouble Americans:

He has a startlingly unsophisticated grasp of domestic and foreign policy. On domestic matters, he regularly applies a naive businessman’s perspective to complex government policy, such as suggesting he could refinance U.S. debt. On foreign policy, Trump’s fist-on-the-table approach to conflict – along with his chilling matter-of-factness about nuclear weapons – has prompted dozens of high-ranking military and Republican administration officials to warn against his candidacy.

He often shows little respect for rules, commitments and the boundaries of the presidency. That includes insisting that generals would follow his illegal order to kill families of terrorists, saying that House Speaker Paul Ryan would “pay a big price” if he didn’t get along with a President Trump and questioning our country’s commitment to NATO allies.

He also lies, with a frequency that’s dizzying and a stubbornness that should make voters question whether he a) has difficulty admitting he’s wrong, or b) really believes he’s right. Either does not fit the office he seeks.

Neither does Trump’s history of racism, crassness and demeaning remarks toward women. Or his concerning admiration for Russian president Vladimir Putin. Or his reckless stoking of resentment against Muslims and Mexicans.

Yes, we understand why many voters are unhappy with their choice this election. We are, too. But we believe that despite her faults, Hillary Clinton is qualified, capable and steady. She is by far the best choice Americans have.