From the opening of Clinton’s speech a few days ago:
I certainly do remember that trip to Bosnia, and as Togo said, 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 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.
That’s not what happened. There was no sniper fire. There was a greeting ceremony at the airport, with the President of Bosnia. An adorable eight-year old read Clinton a poem on the tarmac, while Chelsea waited nearby. There were no press reports of Clinton being under fire in Bosnia.
This isn’t an unimportant lie; Clinton’s lie here, and her exaggeration of her role in Ireland, relates directly to her contention that she’s qualified to answer a phone ringing at 3am and Obama isn’t. This is, in fact, the central argument of her campaign.
My first reaction was that this is Clinton overreaching to establish her creds as a foreign policy veteran. Charles disagrees; he told me that he thinks this is Clinton reacting to sexism by trying to prove she’s tough and unafraid, fighting against the stereotype of women’s roles. It seems to me that probably both motivations are at play here.
Curiously, Clinton’s also fibbed about her role in domestic policy — for instance, taking credit for the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which she apparently had nothing to do with.
What really bothers me is that Clinton’s lying is so transparent, indicating that Clinton — who by all accounts is brilliant and disciplined — has decided she can get away with blatant lies. So far, she’s been right, which says a lot about how bad our media is.
Clinton’s supporters claim the media is biased against her; but compare the near free ride Clinton’s lies have gotten from the media to the hysteria over Obama’s minister. This is because the mainstream media is less “pro-Obama” than “pro-narrative.” The media has bought into a narrative frame which says Clinton represents experience, Obama represents hope, and lies that support this narrative aren’t questioned.
Of course, the media is biased against Clinton, both because she’s a woman and because she’s a Clinton. But the bias isn’t the one-way street Clinton’s supporters believe.
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Incidentally, I think Clinton has impressive foreign policy creds; in particular, she’s been a consistent and dedicated voice for women’s rights for many years. That’s a real argument in Clinton’s favor, and it’s a record she should be proud of.
But that’s not the foreign policy experience she’s been claiming for herself, or running on. And the experience she has been claiming for herself isn’t true. And her longstanding hawkishness, regardless of if it’s rooted in a defensive reaction to sexism or in genuine inclinations, is extremely problematic.