Sunday, March 23, 2008

Hillary Clinton, Lying Liar
Per my point in a post last week about Barack Obama as a departure from the recent norm of national politicians who lie with a straight face even when we know they're lying and they know we know, consider Hillary Clinton's Excellent Bosnian Adventure.

Sen. Clinton's longtime claims of a "danger assignment" in the Balkans in 1996, which she uses to bolster her (rather thin) foreign policy "experience" credentials, got a little attention recently when Sinbad, the comedian who was also on the trip, essentially said she was full of shit:

Sinbad, along with singer Sheryl Crow, was on that 1996 trip to Bosnia that Clinton has described as a harrowing international experience that makes her tested and ready to answer a 3 a.m. phone call at the White House on day one, a claim for which she's taking much grief on the campaign trail.
In an interview with the Sleuth Monday, he said the "scariest" part of the trip was wondering where he'd eat next. "I think the only 'red-phone' moment was: 'Do we eat here or at the next place.'"

Clinton, during a late December campaign appearance in Iowa, described a hair-raising corkscrew landing in war-torn Bosnia, a trip she took with her then-teenage daughter, Chelsea. "They said there might be sniper fire," Clinton said.

Threat of bullets? Sinbad doesn't remember that, either.

"I never felt that I was in a dangerous position. I never felt being in a sense of peril, or 'Oh, God, I hope I'm going to be OK when I get out of this helicopter or when I get out of his tank.'"

In her Iowa stump speech, Clinton also said, "We used to say in the White House that if a place is too dangerous, too small or too poor, send the First Lady."

Say what? As Sinbad put it: "What kind of president would say, 'Hey, man, I can't go 'cause I might get shot so I'm going to send my wife...oh, and take a guitar player and a comedian with you.'"

The Clintons, as they tend to do, subsequently doubled down, adding the detail that the First Lady's transport came under sniper fire as it landed in Bosnia and a planned ceremony at the airport had to be called off as the party ran for their lives. Unfortunately for them, the press was on hand as well, and now the Washington Post offers this full-on fact check and awards her "Four Pinocchios," their highest honor for stretching facts well beyond recognition.

According to Pomfret, the Tuzla airport was "one of the safest places in Bosnia" in March 1996, and "firmly under the control" of the 1st Armored Division.

Far from running to an airport building with their heads down, Clinton and her party were greeted on the tarmac by smiling U.S. and Bosnian officials. An eight-year-old Moslem girl, Emina Bicakcic, read a poem in English. An Associated Press photograph of the greeting ceremony, above, shows a smiling Clinton bending down to receive a kiss.

"There is peace now," Emina told Clinton, according to Pomfret's report in the Washington Post the following day, "because Mr. Clinton signed it. All this peace. I love it."

The First Lady's schedule, released on Wednesday and available here, confirms that she arrived in Tuzla at 8.45 a.m. and was greeted by various dignitaries, including Emina Bicakcic, (whose name has mysteriously been redacted from the document.)

You can see CBS News footage of the arrival ceremony here. The footage shows Clinton walking calmly out of the back of the C-17 military transport plane that brought her from Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany.

Is this the issue on which the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination should be decided? Of course not. Has Barack Obama ever stretched an anecdote or altered a story to make himself look better? I'm guessing yes. (Though it's probably worth noting that the Republicans did pretty well by demonizing the last two Democratic presidential nominees as incorrigible liars, and none of their alleged whoppers were as blatant or easily disproved as this Clinton fabrication.) But this is so typical of the Clintons: not only the truth-stretching, but the brazenness of the dishonesty and the ease with which it can be exposed. Nobody has ever called them stupid, so I'm assuming what went on here was that someone made a calculation that the story would generate political value before it was exposed for the untruth it was. But is this really what progressives want? And can the country really afford another president or would-be president with such transparent contempt for the truth?


Chris said...

You and your 'fact's aren't needed around these parts. I felt like it was true, therefore it was. Couldn't you feel the truthiness in your GUT?

David said...

Maybe that's the problem. It didn't even feel truthy to me...