Saturday, March 22, 2008

Clinton Shouldn't Lie About What's Videotaped

March 25, 2008, 2:00 p.m.

Lies, Damned Lies and Videotape

When I earlier wrote here that "Hillary Makes Up 'Experience'" there was already plenty of evidence of her at best "embellishing" her credentials, and at worse flat out lying about them: her responsibility for SCHIP, helping to "bring peace to Northern Ireland," and the assertion that "I negotiated open borders to let fleeing refugees into safety from Kosovo." Each claim has been essentially refuted by those who were there and were responsible. See, Nicholas Johnson, "Hillary Makes Up 'Experience,'" March 14, 21, 2008.

Once 11,000 pages of her White House schedules were made public it turned out there was little if anything there to support claims she was responsible for major governmental policies or decisions. (After going through them, the Washington Post's reporters wrote:

"While Clinton's advertisements have boasted that she is best prepared for a 3 a.m. crisis phone call, the schedules contain no evidence that Clinton was at the table during major national security decisions. They do not list her as attending National Security Council meetings or joining briefings in the Situation Room. She did not have a national security clearance. And the documents make clear that at moments of major crisis, Clinton was often busy with her own agenda."
Peter Baker and Karen DeYoung, "Clinton's Experience Is Debated; While Not a Foreign Crisis Player, She Carried U.S. Message," Washington Post, March 21, 2008, p. A6.)

Note that I have not asserted that either Senator Obama or McCain has had more experience of the kind Senator Clinton claims to justify her assertion that she passes "the commander-in-chief test." In fact, the three of them are all essentially equally lacking when it comes to the kinds of "experience" that might be relevant to the presidency. See, Nicholas Johnson, "Hillary's Lack of Qualifications," March 8, 10, 11, 12, 2008. My point is simply that there is no justification for her claim that she has more experience than either of them.

Senator Obama has not made "presidential experience" a major part of his campaign. She has. And that's her problem.

Any misrepresentation about one's resume, degrees, certification, or experience is problematical. But once a candidate for public office campaigns that he or she should be preferred because their extensive experience makes them more qualified for the job than their opponents, and "experience" is the centerpiece of their campaign, refusals to explain, and provide details regarding the nature of that "35 years of experience," or evidence that the claims are contradicted by the data, can be serious indeed.

Now comes a whopper. Ann Sanner, "Clinton 'Misspoke' About '96 Bosnia Trip," Washington Post, March 25, 2008 ("Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign said she 'misspoke' last week when saying she had landed under sniper fire during a trip to Bosnia as first lady in March 1996. She later characterized the episode as a 'misstatement' and a 'minor blip.'").

Sanner reports that Senator Clinton earlier this month said, "'I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.'" Called on it yesterday [March 24] Clinton responded, "'I went to 80 countries, you know. I gave contemporaneous accounts, I wrote about a lot of this in my book. You know, I think that, a minor blip, you know, if I said something that, you know, I say a lot of things -- millions of words a day -- so if I misspoke, that was just a misstatement,' she said."

Sanner reports that "According to an Associated Press story at the time, Clinton was placed under no extraordinary risks on the trip. And one of her companions, comedian Sinbad, told The Washington Post he has no recollection either of the threat or reality of gunfire."

This would have been dismissed as a "he-said-she-said" -- until videotape of her actual arrival started circulating on the Internet and ultimately was used by CBS. Here it is:

For more see, Michael Dobbs, "The Fact Checker," Washington Post, March 26, 2008.

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Anonymous said...

There is more to the story than this. From the WaPo:

Lissa Muscatine, who served as Hilary Clinton's chief speechwriter in 1996 and accompanied her on the Bosnia trip, feels that I have failed to provide a full picture of what took place. She gave me her "vivid recollections" of the arrival in Tuzla, which I quote below:

I was on the plane with then First Lady Hillary Clinton for the trip from Germany into Bosnia in 1996. We were put on a C17-- a plane capable of steep ascents and descents -- precisely because we were flying into what was considered a combat zone. We were issued flak jackets for the final leg because of possible sniper fire near Tuzla. As an additional precaution, the First Lady and Chelsea were moved to the armored cockpit for the descent into Tuzla. We were told that a welcoming ceremony on the tarmac might be canceled because of sniper fire in the hills surrounding the air strip. From Tuzla, Hillary flew to two outposts in Bosnia with gunships escorting her helicopter.

Anonymous said...


I was a member of the security team (military) providing escort to Mrs. Clinton and Chelsea that day. True, a sniper shot would have been difficult. However, it was a concern at that time, particulary when new bullet strikes could be found almost daily. As General Nash stated, there was a reported threat of a truck bomb. Also, there was heightened activity just outside the airfield near the time of their landing. Am I a Clintonite, uh, no. However, given the heightened level of security that day, I would have to say that danger from sniper fire was a real concern.IFOR, ya'll.