Have you heard the lines coming from the left that businessman Donald Trump can’t be trusted with the nation’s nuclear codes?
Presidential rival Hillary Clinton is hitting Mr. Trump hard on his temperament and judgment when it comes to national security issues, calling out his lack of impulse control. In a CNN interview last week, Mrs. Clinton said Mr. Trump was “irresponsible;” with NBC’s “Meet the Press,” she said Mr. Trump’s positions posed “immediate danger.”
“Throughout this campaign, Donald Trump has demonstrated that he is too divisive and lacks the temperament to lead our nation and the free world,” John Podesta, Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman, has said. “With so much at stake, Donald Trump is simply too big of a risk.”
Recent polling backs up some of these assertions. A New York Times/CBS poll found just 27 percent of registered voters think Mr. Trump has the right kind of temperament and personality to be a good president, compared to Mrs. Clinton’s 48 percent. And according to a Fox News poll, more voters trust Mrs. Clinton with the nuclear codes by 11 points.
There’s no doubt Mr. Trump’s frequent tweeting and offhand, unscripted responses to reporters’ questions have led to this deficiency. As Mr. Trump starts receiving weekly intelligence briefings — and the public learns he can be trusted with these — his numbers may increase.
What is to Mr. Trump’s credit, however, is his willingness and ability to engage with the press. He frequently takes questions after his events, and schedules interviews with reporters who are both sympathetic to his candidacy and those who are not. In Mr. Trump’s opinion, all press is good press and his campaign has been largely transparent.
He’s proven to not let reporters’ questions get under his skin, and never really appears to lose his temper.
That cannot be said for Mrs. Clinton.
“Reporters who’ve followed Clinton for months may have little to no relationship with the candidate,” according to a Huffington Post report. “And the only opportunity they have to ask her questions is when she works the rope line after events, a time when candidates typically shake hands and pose for selfies with supporters.”
Although she’s increased her availability for some sit-down interviews, they’re mostly with friends like George Stephanopoulos at ABC or Chris Cuomo at CNN, and are highly choreographed.
So are her rallies, and if she hears a question she doesn’t like on the rope-line, things can go south — fast.
In March, Mrs. Clinton lost her temper with a Greenpeace Activist who asked her about donations from the fossil-fuel industry. After Mrs. Clinton answered that she takes donations from a lot of people who work in various industries, she told the activist, “I am so sick — I am so sick of the Sanders campaign lying about me!”
And it’s not the first time Mrs. Clinton has lost her cool.
In an exchange detailed by Ronald Kessler, who wrote “First Family Detail,” a look at the Secret Service and the families they guard, a member of the uniformed Secret Service once greeted Mrs. Clinton, “Good morning, ma’am,” to which she replied: “F—- off.”
“When in public, Hillary smiles and acts graciously,” Mr. Kessler wrote. “As soon as the cameras are gone, her angry personality, nastiness, and imperiousness become evident. … Hillary Clinton can make Richard Nixon look like Mahatma Gandhi.”
David Brooks, a columnist at the New York Times, wrote last year: “In normal times, [Mrs. Clinton] comes across as a warm, thoughtful, pragmatic and highly intelligent person. But she has been extremely quick to go into battle mode. When she is in that mode, the descriptions from people who know her are pretty much the same, crisis after crisis: hunkered down, steely, scornful and secretive.”
Sounds like she’s great under pressure.
Mr. Brooks continues: “During Whitewater, she insisted that some of her law firm’s billing records could not be found (until they were discovered in the White House residence two years after being subpoenaed). Her health care reform effort was needlessly marred by her unwillingness to release the names of her consultants. The fallout from the attack of an American compound in Benghazi, Libya, was an overblown scandal, but the State Department still withheld emails from congressional investigators.”
Carl Bernstein, who wrote a biography on Mrs. Clinton, told CNN this campaign season that Mrs. Clinton has a “difficult relationship with the truth” and has become a “specialist” in fudging facts.
This fall, when her poll numbers were slipping in the race against Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders, the New York Post reported: “Hillary is furious — and while Clinton advisers think that may save her, it’s making the lives of those who work for her hell.”
“Hillary’s been having screaming, childlike tantrums that have left staff members in tears and unable to work,” a campaign aide told the Post. “She thought the nomination was hers for the asking, but her mounting problems have been getting to her and she’s become shrill and, at times, even violent.”
In one incident, Mrs. Clinton berated a low-level campaign worker for making a scheduling mistake, the Post reports, and when the girl turned her back on Mrs. Clinton to walk away, Mrs. Clinton grabbed her arm.
“Bill Clinton and Hillary’s campaign team are concerned that her anger may surface at the wrong time,” the Post reported. “They are concerned that she could have a serious meltdown in front of TV cameras, which would make her look so out of control that voters would decide she doesn’t have the temperament to be commander in chief.”
One campaign adviser told the Post, “We’re having some success in giving her some chill pills.”
Yup, sounds like a great temperament.