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Tom Finneran: On Hillary Clinton and the Marines

Friday, February 28, 2014


Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton poses for a group photo with U.S. Marines stationed on Marine Corps Air Station in 2012.

Only a fool would bet against Hillary Clinton’s chances for becoming the next President of the United States. Having high regard for the money I earn, I would not make that bet. She has the political ability and the burning ambition to once again enter the insane inhuman arena of presidential politics. And while the Republicans as a whole stand an equally good chance of securing the White House, I’m reminded that the specific candidate himself or herself is absolutely crucial to the outcome. Neither Sarah Palin nor Herman Cain nor Donald Trump nor Newt Gingrich is EVER going to become President of the United States. They might have charisma or charm or money or fame or political experience, but they will not get by the American people. Candidates and campaigns matter.

Learning from her mistakes

For proof of the point, consider Hillary’s ignominious defeat by the upstart Barack in 2008. While many pundits continue to embarrass themselves in full swoon to President Obama’s “talent” and “history-making”, the truth of the matter is that Hillary ran a horrible campaign, plagued by infighting and coasting on the assumption that it was “Hillary’s turn”. Give credit to Team Obama for puncturing the mythical pretensions and the presumptions in that theory. No one glides into the White House on an air of assumption. The prize must be fought for………….

Hillary’s big advantage for the 2016 race goes back to 2008, the lessons learned then and there, including the accumulation of instructive scar tissue. She emerged from the knife fight of the nomination both sadder and wiser. She will not forget those lessons and she will be a formidable opponent. Nor should anyone discount the “history” involved in electing the first woman President. There are lots of women for whom the demolition of that historic barrier will be sufficient reason to vote for Hillary in 2016. You know, “I am woman, hear me roar” stuff……………………

Gender Equality

Speaking of women, I note that the Pentagon is on the march to a mandate requiring combat arms “opportunities” to be opened up to women by 2016. The old-fashioned guy in me cringes at the thought. And yes, I am aware that other nations appear to include women in fully integrated roles in their military units. Nonetheless, I ask whether this push for “gender equality” is not dangerous to our interests.

And I further ask the meek and mild Pentagon why is it that equality is to be achieved by defining the standards downward? Is political correctness allowed to trump combat readiness? As the father of two very capable daughters I take a backseat to no one on a woman’s ability to serve and excel in virtually any role. But I sense a surrender, a total capitulation, to political goals which are unhinged from the realities of the battlefield. Scaling walls, carrying comrades, lugging arms and ammo, is not for the faint of heart. Many guys cannot do it. Combat does not occur on the manicured fairways of Augusta National, with caddies at hand. It occurs in frightful places under frightful conditions and it inevitably requires some very basic brute strength.

Bowing to political correctness

In the most recent example of the Pentagon’s bow to political correctness and its retreat from combat readiness, it has scrapped a basic strength requirement because some 55% of women Marine recruits could not pass the three-pull-up test. This was a proposed unisex threshold for all Marines, male and female. And with 55% of the female recruits unable to pass this scaled-down test, the Pentagon panicked and called for “more study” of gender norms.

Here’s a radical thought for the Pentagon’s consideration---set a standard, a high and meaningful standard for battlefield combat, and anyone who passes the standard enters the combat unit. If my daughter can do ten or twelve or fifteen pull-ups (and one of them could), then she’s in. And if my other daughter could not do the paltry minimum of three, then she’s out. Not every guy will qualify for a combat unit. Not many guys would qualify. Why then the silly search for standards that will pass every girl into physically elite units?

Is it not obvious that all of us have vastly differing talents? Square pegs don’t fit into round holes and the recruit who can do twenty pull-ups, fifty pushups, and a ten mile run in full combat gear might not be able to read a map or analyze a satellite reconnaissance photo.

Advice for Hillary

Back to Hillary for a moment. She could do herself a world of good with the utterance of a few simple points on this question of women in the military. Do you remember Bill Clinton’s “Sister Souljah” moment? It occurred at a moment in the campaign where he felt the need to show that he was not a member of the loony left brigades of the Democratic Party. Memory tells me that “Sister Souljah” was singing the praises of cop-killers, as if they were freedom fighters. Bill Clinton cleverly inserted himself into the controversy around the song and denounced it without equivocation. Voila! He made himself mainstream, normal, and eminently electable.

Hillary could do the same with some words of wisdom and reassurance for the Pentagon brass, that they need not tie themselves in knots to find a fair and sensible outcome. A pull-up is a pull-up is a pull-up, whether it is done by man or woman, friend or foe. And nothing should ever interfere with American troops’ combat readiness. If my daughter can’t meet the battlefield standard then she doesn’t go to the battlefield. What the heck, she could go right to the Pentagon and bring them some badly needed common sense.

Go Hillary! It’s time to roar.


Related Slideshow: New England Communities With the Most Political Clout 2013

The Sunlight Foundation, in conjunction with Azavea, released data maps this week showing political contribution dollars to federal elections dating back to 1990 -- by county.

GoLocal takes a look at the counties in New England that had the highest per-capita contributions in the 2012 election cycle -- and talked with experts about what that meant for those areas in New Engand, as well as the candidates.  

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25. Merrimack County, NH

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $9.86

Total contributions: $1,447,713

Merrimack County is named after the Merrimack River and is home to the states capital, Concord. Merrimack County has a total area of 956 square miles and a population of 146,761.

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24. Cheshire County, NH

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $9.88

Total contributions: $759,209

Cheshire is one of the five original counties in New Hampshire and was founded in 1771. The highest point in Cheshire County is located at the top of Mount Monadnock, which was made famous by the poets Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.

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23. Rockingham County, NH

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $9.96

Total contributions: $2,965,530

Rockingham has 37 communities and has a population of 297,820. Rockingham County also was home to the famous poet, Robert Frost

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22. Belknap County, NH

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $10.02

Total contributions: $604,512

Belknap County is one of the ten counties in New Hampshire and has a population of 60,327. It is located in the center of New Hampshire and the largest city is Laconia.

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21. Hampshire County, MA

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $10.41

Total contributions: $1,664,077

Hampshire County has a total area of 545 square miles and is located in the middle of Massachusetts. Hampshire County is also the only county to be surrounded in all directions by other Massachusetts counties.

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20. Barnstable County, MA

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $10.90

Total contributions: $2,348,541

Barnstable County was founded in 1685 and has three national protected areas. Cape Cod National Seashore is the most famous protected area within Barnstable County and brings in a high amount of tourists every year.

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19. Berkshire County, MA

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $12.49

Total contributions: $1,624,400

Berkshire County is located on the western side of Massachusetts and borders three different neighboring states. Originally the Mahican Native American Tribe inhabited Berkshire County up until the English settlers arrived and bought the land in 1724. 

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18. Essex County, MA

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $13.22

Total contributions: $9,991,201

Essex is located in the northeastern part of Massachusetts and contains towns such as Salem, Lynn, and Andover. Essex was founded in 1643 and because of Essex historical background, the whole county has been designated as the Essex National Heritage Area.

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17. Chittendon County, VT

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $13.86

Total contributions: $2,196,107

Chittenden has a population of 158,504, making it Vermont’s most populated county. Chittenden’s largest city is Burlington, which has about one third of Vermont’s total population.

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16. Lamoille County, VT

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $14.82

Total contributions: $369,854

Lamoille County was founded in 1835 and has a population of 24,958. The county has 464 square miles, of which 461 of them are land.

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15. Addison County, VT

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $15.49

Total contributions: $569,299

Located on the west side of Vermont, Addison County has a total area of 808 square miles. Addison's largest town is Middlebury, where the Community College of Vermont and Middlebury College are located.

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14. Newport County, RI

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $16.02

Total contributions: $1,214,26

Newport County is one of the five Rhode Island Counties and was founded in 1703. Just like Connecticut, none of Rhode Island counties have an any governmental functions.

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13. Cumberland County, ME

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $18.33

Total contributions: $5,205,507

Cumberland County has a population of 283,921 and is Maine’s most populated county. The county was named after the William, Duke of Cumberland, a son of King George II.

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12. Windsor County, VT

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $20.57

Total contributions: $1,156,149

Windsor County is the largest county in Vermont and consists of 971 square miles of land and 5 square miles of water.

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11. Bristol County, RI

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $20.91

Total contributions: $1,027,472

Bristol County has a population of 49,144 and is the third smallest county in the United States. Bristol County was originally apart of Massachusetts, but was transferred to Rhode Island in 1746.

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10. Grafton County, NH

Contributions, per capita, 2012 :$20.95

Total contributions: $1,868,739

With a population of 89,181, Grafton County is the second largest county in New Hampshire. Home of New Hampshire’s only national forest, White Mountain National Forest takes up about half of Grafton’s total area 

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9. Carrol County, NH

Contributions, per capita, 2012: 2012: $22.81

Total contributions: $1,012,10

Created in 1840, Carroll County has a population of 47,567. Carroll County was also named after Charles Carroll, the last surviving signer of the United States Declaration of Independence.

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8. LItchfield County, CT

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $22.86

Total contributions: $4,286,143

Although it is Connecticut’s largest county, Litchfield has the lowest population density in all of Connecticut. Since 1960 all Connecticut counties have no county government.

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7. Middlesex County, MA

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $32.81

Total contributions: $50,432,154

Middlesex County has a population of 1,503,085 and has been ranked as the most populous county in New England.  The county government was abolished in 1997, but the county boundaries still exists for court jurisdictions and other administrative purposes.

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6. Nantucket County, MA

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $33.41

Total contributions: $344,021

Nantucket County consists of a couple of small islands and is a major tourist destination in Massachusetts. Normally Nantucket has a population of 10,298, but during the summer months the population can reach up to 50,000.

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5. Norfolk County, MA

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $35.87

Total contributions: $24,459,854

Named after a county from England, Norfolk County is the wealthiest county in Massachusetts. As of 2011, Norfolk was ranked the 32nd highest income county in the United States. 

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4. Dukes County, MA

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $36.32

Total contributions: $618,960

Consisting of Martha’s Vineyard and the Elizabeth Islands, Dukes County is one of Massachusetts’ top vacation spots. Originally Dukes County was apart New York, however it was transferred to Massachusetts on October 7, 1691.

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3. Suffolk County, MA

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $40.73

Total contributions: $30,323,537

Suffolk County has a population of 744,426 and contains Massachusetts’s largest city, Boston. Although Suffolk’s county government was abolished in the late 1900’s, it still remains as a geographic area.

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2. Knox County, ME

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $45.89

Total contributions: $1,820,410

Knox County was established on April 1st, 1860 and was named after American Revolutionary War General Henry Knox.  The county has a population of 39,668 and is the home of the Union Fair.

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1. Fairfield County, CT

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $55.65.  

Total contributions: $51,970,701 

In a population of 933,835, Fairfield County is the most densely populated county in Connecticut, and contains four of the state's largest cities -- Bridgeport, Stamford, Norwalk and Danbury.


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