We keep seeing the same question asked: In a nation of 300 million people, are Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump the best presidential candidates we can find?
The assumed answer is, "No, we can do better." I'm not sure that answer is correct.
On the Democratic side, I really can't think of anyone better prepared to be president than Hillary Clinton.
She has had a lifetime of public service. She has been in the White House for eight years, and served as a United States senator and as secretary of state. She knows virtually every leader in the world. She has seen policies work and she has seen policies fail.
She also has been the subject of vicious partisan attacks for at least three decades -- actually, four decades.
We live in a nasty world. The night Barack Obama was inaugurated in 2009, a group of Republican leaders, including our own Congressman Paul Ryan, met for dinner and agreed on a strategy of denying the new president any victory, no matter what he tried to do.
Given the fact that our country was on the cusp of a depression, our domestic auto industry was in the toilet and we were losing 800,000 jobs a month, I'd say that was a pretty unpatriotic decision they made. But they made it.
I can't imagine they would be any kinder to the next Democratic president. Clinton can take them on.
But is Trump the best the Republicans can do?
That's a more difficult question. The case I would make is that, ever since the party sold its soul to the "Southern Strategy" and appealed overtly to racist whites, it set its stage for the entry on Donald Trump.
I mean, this is the party that impeached Bill Clinton after spending several years searching for anything wrong he might have done. It is the party that endorsed eight – or is it 10? – Congressional committees attempting to find Hillary Clinton culpable for the tragedy in Libya. And it is the party that voted to take health insurance away from 20 million Americans, something like 50 times.
It is the party of Trump. It just doesn't feel comfortable with the public image he conveys. They would prefer a smoother bigot.
To give Republicans their due, I doubt that many of them would join Trump in his tolerance of Vladimir Putin – though quite a few of them were quick to agree that Putin is a stronger leader than is Obama. So they aren't quite dismayed by the prospect of a leader who will invade other countries, murder opponents and wreck his economy.
So, are these the "best" candidates we could fine?
Maybe they are.
But only one of them is qualified to be president.