To say that the American public looks at Hillary Clinton with a critical eye is nothing short of an understatement.
From scandals surrounding her husband to complaints about her personality, Clinton has been a target of allegations since the early '90s.
Though a quarter-century of criticism grants Republican challengers a vast range of material to utilize, President Barack Obama has accurately suggested that these critiques are steeped in reason for Clinton to win the 2016 election.
On July 5, Obama addressed an enthusiastic crowd in North Carolina. Unable to deny Clinton’s recent difficulties, he spoke freely about his support for the Democratic candidate, saying, “There has never been any man or woman more qualified for this office than Hillary Clinton.”
Obama said that he benefited from being someone new and exciting on Capitol Hill in 2008, a card that Clinton cannot play to her advantage. He added, “Sometimes we take somebody who's been in the trenches and fought the good fight and been steady for granted.”
That “somebody” is Hillary Clinton.
Obama’s statements explain why Clinton has received so much criticism throughout her time as a politician: She has simply been in the game longer than most.
The question following such a realization is whether her extended time in politics is an advantage or a disadvantage.
As a candidate, the answer is, without a doubt, a disadvantage. Since her time as First Lady, Clinton has fought for women’s rights and universal healthcare. According to BBC, these efforts earned her the aggressive and overambitious reputation that has followed her throughout her career.
As a president, however, would a forceful personality not be advantageous?
Not only has Clinton taken initiative since the moment she saw opportunity in D.C., she has cultivated a sense of what works and what does not. She has viewed foreign policy, internal affairs, and decision making through the lens of First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State. Of course she has made mistakes, but time grants the opportunity to learn.
Consider for a moment the recent release of over 1,000 Iraqi War-related emails sent and received on Clinton’s private server during her time as Secretary of State. While this WikiLeaks collection functions as a spring board for a continuation of Republican criticism of Clinton’s foreign policy strategies, the emails also represent four years of hands-on experience in the White House.
On her first day as Secretary of State, Clinton told her department’s employees, "There are three legs to the stool of American foreign policy: defense, diplomacy, and development … And I will do all that I can, working with you, to make it abundantly clear that robust diplomacy and effective development are the best long-term tools for securing America's future."
That statement was made in 2009, meaning that it has been open for attack for seven years. Analysts can critique her work as Secretary of State with that statement as a comparative goal, manipulating it in any way that they choose.
The immutable truth behind those criticisms, though, is her practice of setting policy goals and holding an office. That is undeniable experience.
Reoccurring reproaches of Clinton and her political policies may seem like obstacles standing in between the Democratic nominee and a fateful Tuesday in November. Ultimately, however, these criticisms will serve as justification for Clinton’s validity as president.
Obama is right. Though it may seem like her worst enemy at the moment, time is truly Clinton’s greatest strength.