You’ve heard “out of the mouths of babes”–right? How about “out of the keyboards of presidential hopefuls?”! I love a good project and here it is: reading the most recent autobiographies of Hillary Clinton–Hard Choices and Donald Trump–Crippled America. This is an assignment my students will do in fall, so I’m getting a running start on it and sharing it with you. Read on and draw your own contrasts:
Chapter 5: Beijing/The Dissident
In this chapter, Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner make their way to Beijing for a strategic and economic summit to negotiate the fate of Chen Guangcheng, a blind dissident who advocated on behalf of fellow villagers against local authorities. He escaped house arrest, injured his foot and traveled to Beijing, where he sought refuge in the U.S. Embassy. Clinton negotiated over Chen’s fate playing out behind the scenes as she and Geithner publicly engaged in polite talks with Chinese leaders about larger strategic matters — each side desperate to avoid sparking a crisis. Despite the high-wire act, Clinton writes that her decision to send embassy officials out to retrieve Chen and offer him refuge “wasn’t a close call.”
Chapter 6/Burma: The Lady and the Generals
Clinton call Burma’s transformation one of the high points of her time as Secretary of State. She writes of inching diplomacy along as a new leader became president, the release of Nobel Prize-winning opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, and the halting of construction of a Chinese dam on the sacred Irrawaddy River. Finally, Obama speaks directly to Suu Kyi by phone — swapping “stories about their dogs” — and clears Clinton for the first visit by a U.S. secretary of state to Burma in more than 50 years. Highlights of that trip: Meeting Suu Kyi in person. Hearing that the speaker of the lower house of parliament was “trying to understand how to run a Parliament” by watching “The West Wing.” And taking off her shoes at an ancient Buddhist temple in Rangoon, where journalists took note of her “sexy siren red” toenail polish.
Chapter 4 Trump’s Crippled America
In Chapter 4, Foreign Policy: Fighting for Peace, begins by stating: “The career diplomats who got us into many foreign policy messes say I have no experience in foreign policy.” He contends that it does not take years of experience or nuance to make a decision and that the state of the world is a “terrible mess.” He describes the diplomats as “pin striped bureaucrats and so-called experts.” He writes that what he does know is what we are doing now is not working. His advice: “When you are digging yourself deeper and deeper into a hole, stop digging.” His approach is to “Operate from strength.” He quotes the boxer, Mike Tyson: “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” He asserts that the best way to not have to use your military power is to make sure that the power is visible. He writes that “It’s no wonder nobody respects us. It’s no surprise that we never win.” He believes that it is time that the world pay their fair share. He says that the biggest question people ask about foreign policy is “at what point do we put boots on the ground?” He notes he is not afraid to criticize President Obama about Iran and that the deal the president negotiated with Iran was the “worst I have ever seen.” He believes that today the world has to deal with two “sets” of China. He writes that tipping your hand is the worst mistake. He closes the chapter by saying that “we need to pay special attention to the Chinese.” and that “The new dawn of America has just begun.”