Thursday, March 27, 2008

Ever more catching wind to Billary's Bullshit

Hillary's Just Making It Up As She Goes Along

Commentary by Margaret Carlson

March 27 (Bloomberg) -- We all exaggerate. Life is mundane. Stories about it are usually more entertaining with just a bit of tweaking. That's how you can conflate George Clooney's once having gone to the same restaurant you ate at into a story about how you were both at Spago Saturday night.

So where does Senator Hillary Clinton's retelling of her 1996 trip to Bosnia fall on the scale from acceptable hyperbole -- ``I'm telling you that bass was two feet long if it was an inch'' -- to the unacceptable kind -- ``I did not have sex with that woman'' -- that gets you impeached and disbarred.

Let's try this: Al Gore was a lot closer to inventing the Internet than Clinton was to having a corkscrew-landing in Tuzla under sniper fire so frightening that a tarmac greeting had to be scrubbed.

Prior to the release of a CBS television tape, the only dissenting voice from Hillary's ``Perils of Pauline Meets Patton'' tale was fellow traveler Sinbad, along to entertain the troops. ``The only red-phone moment,'' he said, ``was `Do we eat here or the next place?'''

The video shows that almost everything Clinton said about her Bosnia landing -- which she recalled on several occasions, once in prepared remarks her staff reviewed -- was made up.

There were no military maneuvers or antiaircraft fire. Everyone, including daughter Chelsea, got off at a leisurely pace. The welcoming committee welcomed. The little girl read her poem and delivered her flowers, eliciting two air-kisses from Clinton.

Hyping Experience

Clinton, 60, has been hyping her foreign policy experience for weeks. She's conceded that Republican Senator John McCain is her equal in that department, but pointedly not Senator Barack Obama.

The exercise has gotten harder since the release of 11,000 pages of her highly redacted but still useful schedule, far heavier on first lady activities than on commander-in-chief duties.

After the health-care debacle in 1994, she was at pains to say she wasn't involved in anything much more than baking cookies, so as to quell complaints from Capitol Hill over her half of the ``two for the price of one'' presidency.

Now she needs to show she was a virtual vice president in the mode of Dick Cheney. Funerals and ceremonial tours are no help here, only meaty roles where she was a shadow chief executive.

Only Human?

Clinton pleaded that her memory of Bosnia was faulty because she's ``sleep deprived'' and only ``human.'' She said that exactly the way a human would, then quickly pivoted to asserting that it was ``the first time in 12 years or so, I misspoke.''

That's not close, even leaving aside the now-you-see-them, now-you-don't billing records, the cattle futures and the travel office firings.

Her schedule shows numerous meetings with business groups pushing the passage of Nafta back then; yet when campaigning nowadays in Ohio and Pennsylvania, she says she was always against the trade agreement.

Just this campaign she has ``misspoken'' more than once. Clinton, along with her husband, claimed that she ``was instrumental'' in ending the conflict between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. Most of her visits were after the agreement was hammered out. Her two trips before were of the first lady sort with women's groups.

Lord David Trimble, who won the Nobel Peace Prize, called Clinton's claim a ``wee bit silly.'' ``I don't want to rain on the thing for her but being a cheerleader for something is slightly different from being a principal player,'' he said.

`Generally Accurate'

Those who tried to come to Clinton's defense did it with faint praise and carefully parsed words. Former Senator George Mitchell, a main negotiator of the peace agreement, characterized her statements as ``generally accurate to the extent that they have been relayed to me.'' He added, ``Her greatest focus was on encouraging women in Northern Ireland to get in and stay in the political process.''

John Hume, a Nobel Laureate and ardent advocate of Clinton for president, said, ``The people of Northern Ireland think very positively of Hillary Clinton's support for our peace process, due to her visits to Northern Ireland and her meetings with so many people.''

Two of Hume's less-partisan colleagues are more direct. Chief negotiator Conall McDevitt said she was active ``in a classic woman politicky sort of way...on the issue side, I think probably not.''

Another Road Entirely

Said Brian Feeney, ``the road to peace was carefully documented, and she wasn't on it.''

Clinton also claimed that on a visit to Macedonia in 1999 she ``negotiated open borders to let fleeing refugees into safety from Kosovo.'' Macedonia reopened its border to Kosovar refugees before her visit.

Obama has had his own brushes with fiction. He wasn't a professor of constitutional law but a senior lecturer. His health-care bill in the Illinois legislature only created a task force. He once said he'd never heard Reverend Jeremiah Wright say anything controversial and then admitted he did.

He credited the civil rights march in Selma, Alabama, in 1965 with creating the atmosphere in which his black father and white mother could fall in love. They fell in love earlier.

We're accustomed to shadings of the truth when dealing with candidates. Among consultants the joke goes, ``Honesty is the best policy. Okay, fine. What's the second-best policy?''

Ronald Reagan claimed to have liberated a concentration camp when, at best, he saw film footage about it while serving stateside.

No one knows what a president will face in office, so it's important to know what their instincts are. A few more tall tales and voters may be less worried about Clinton's capacity to be commander-in-chief than her ability to tell the truth.

(Margaret Carlson, author of ``Anyone Can Grow Up: How George Bush and I Made It to the White House'' and former White House correspondent for Time magazine, is a Bloomberg News columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.)

Original article posted here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Clinton pleaded that her memory of Bosnia was faulty because she's ``sleep deprived'' and only ``human.''

Oops! That doesn't bode well for her ability to answer the phone at 3 a.m.