Duck and Cover(Up): Hillary Under Fire
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By Dave Lindorff
So Hillary Clinton, her campaign sagging as it becomes clearer and clearer that she’s not going to get the Democratic nomination unless she can destroy her opponent, insists she would have quit Barack Obama’s Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago after hearing the allegedly “hateful” words of its pastor, Jeremiah Wright.
But wait a sec. Putting aside the matter of whether what Wright said was even “hateful,” this same Hillary Clinton chose the rabidly anti-semitic Rev. Billy Graham for spiritual mentor in her time of troubles during wayward hubby Bill’s impeachment scandal, and welcomed his offer of support for her senate and presidential bids. This, of course, is the same Billy Graham who was caught on tape telling President Nixon that he thought Jews had a “stranglehold” on the American media, and that if something weren’t “done about it,” the “country’s going down the drain.”
Now that certainly qualifies as hate speech, but it hasn’t bothered candidate Clinton a bit to cozy up to the Rev. Graham.
Well, maybe Clinton just “misspoke” when she said she chose the Rev. Graham as her spiritual mentor. (Isn’t that a lovely euphemism for lying, by the way?)
Misspeaking is her excuse for her latest whopper: the one about her combat experience in war-torn Bosnia.
Clinton, in an Iraq policy speech she gave last week aimed at trying to burnish her claim of 35 years of Washington experience, recalled a 1996 trip to the war-torn former province of Yugoslavia, where Serbs and Croats had been butchering each other and especially Muslims. As she told the tale last week:
"I certainly do remember that trip to Bosnia and ... there was a saying around the White House that if a place was too small, too poor, or too dangerous, the president couldn't go, so send the first lady. That's where we went. I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base."
Then came an embarrassing CBS news clip of that visit, which showed that there was no sniper fire, and that Clinton, who had brought along her daughter Chelsea and the comic Sinbad (apparently it was too dangerous for Bill, but not too dangerous for her daughter or the commedian!), and that all three of them had made a leisurely stroll from the plane with their military escorts and local hosts, even stopping to greet an 8-year-old girl who was on hand to welcome them.
A red-faced Clinton now claims she was “tired” and that she had “misspoken.”
Except that this isn’t the first time she’s told this particular whopper, as she insisted initially. She’s been a serial liar about the Bosnia visit and the mythic snipers.
All of which should raise grave doubts in the minds of primary voters in Pennsylvania and elsewhere about the veracity of her many other claims of foreign policy and White House executive experience—like her clearly and demonstrably inflated claim of having “helped to bring peace to Northern Ireland,” or her equally inflated claim of having "negotiated open borders to let fleeing refugees into safety from Kosovo," and also about her claim to have opposed the passage of the job-killing NAFTA treaty. (Recently revealed Clinton White House appointment records, pried lose by a public interest group Freedom of Information request, show that she in fact actively pushed for NAFTA passage.)
Now we all know that all politicians bend the truth, exaggerate their records, and yes, lie. But Clinton is now in danger of supplanting Al Gore, who was pilloried for exaggerating his role in “inventing” the Internet during his ill-fated run for the White House, as the season’s ace prevaricator. If she were somehow to manage to gain the Democratic nomination, Republicans and GOP candidate John McCain would have a field day with her at this point.
But we should not be surprised at this turn of events. After all, Hillary’s claim to White House experience and her assertion that she’s ready to assume the role of commander in chief “on day one” rests on her having been Bill’s consort and presidential “twofer.” And it was Bill, never one to be hobbled by the limitations of the truth, who famously claimed that a statement’s veracity depended on “what the meaning of `is’ is.”
Perhaps Hillary will eventually be saying the veracity of her Bosnian tall tale hinges on what the meaning of “snipe” is.
Now I recall that when I was a kid in summer camp, a snipe was a creature that counselors would send us off into the woods to capture in the dark. Like Clinton’s adventure with live fire, we campers eventually learned that the animal didn’t exist.
DAVE LINDORFF is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist. His latest book is “The Case for Impeachment” (St. Martin’s Press, 2006, and now available in paperback edition). His work is available at www.thiscantbehappening.net