You could say that it all depends on how you define “lie.” Or, perhaps, that it’s hell to have a public record.
Either way, Hillary Clinton’s vast résumé of, shall we say, inconsistencies, is the dog that caught the car and won’t let go. A viral video collection of her comments on various subjects through the years is bestirring Republican hearts.
To those who’d rather vote for a reality show host than a Clinton, the video merely confirms what they’ve believed all along. For independents and even Democrats, it’s a reminder of how often Clinton has morphed into a fresh incarnation as required by the political moment.
Most of the highlights will be familiar to anyone who follows politics — her varying takes on Bosnia, health care, Wall Street, NAFTA — but the juxtaposition of these ever-shifting views is more jarring than one might expect. Politicians count on Americans’ short attention spans (and memories) as much as they do their own policies and/or charms. This video , inartfully titled “Hillary Clinton lying for 13 minutes straight,” clarifies blurred recollections and recasts them in an order that, among other things, reminds us how long the Clintons have been around.
If you’re looking for a fresh face or an anti-establishment candidate, Hillary Clinton isn’t it. But then neither are Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, both of whom have been haunting the public square nearly all of their adult lives — one a raging radical, the other a radical rager.
Presumptive nominees Clinton and Trump are equally egregious in their misstatements, if in substantively different ways. Clinton is measured, poised, concentrated and studied when she revises her personal history. Trump just says whatever tiny thought penetrates his prefrontal cortex, where inhibitory functioning is obviously kaput, blurting absurdities and bromides the way pirates toss plastic beads from papier-mâché ships at Mardi Gras.
Lacking a policy record to defend or reverse, Trump gets to gloat and sneer at his female foe. He did reverse himself on his irrelevant position regarding the Iraq War, but the number of real estate developers whose opinions factored into the nation’s military calculation in 2003 was exactly zero. Otherwise, his evil-clown act toward women, minorities, the disabled and others is apparently acceptable to the Republican Party.
Clinton’s record is something else. The woman who would become president promises a continuation of President Obama’s policies, even though she rejected many of them in 2008. The candidate who hates NAFTA almost as much as she now despises Wall Street is captured in several clips praising NAFTA.
A review of her bizarre accounting of landing in Bosnia under sniper fire in 1996 is almost entertaining. Audacious, really. Rather than ducking and dodging across a tarmac where no welcoming committee was present, film footage reminds us that she and daughter Chelsea Clinton calmly walked from the plane, posed for photographs with students there to greet them, and shook hands with a little girl.
No news here, just a rehash of history. One Web author who posted the video — sent to me by several readers — insists that it would be impossible to vote for Clinton after viewing the 13-minute montage. This may or may not be true given the alternative, but a refreshed memory does invite fresh consideration of Clinton’s character.
On questions of honesty and trustworthiness, Clinton consistently polls low, including among Democrats, which partly explains Sanders’s support. His economic plan may be fantastical, but at least he’s honest!
Well, maybe. With Clinton, there’s no maybe, as the 13 minutes make clear. For whatever reason, she simply can’t seem to stick to the truth, which, at times, needs neither embellishment nor denial. Wasn’t it enough to have gone to Bosnia to conduct the nation’s all-important soft diplomacy?
Clinton has been in public life long enough to have made some honest mistakes and even changed her mind a few times, which aren’t sins. But trustworthiness requires honesty, which often begets forgiveness.
After all these decades, Clinton still wants everything every which way, just never straightforward. Her lengthy tenure as a public figure has become her greatest obstacle. This isn’t only because of her lack of forthrightness; it’s also because, having lived under such intense scrutiny for so long, she seems incapable of allowing herself the ultimate dodge: She’s merely human.
A person who can admit to mistakes, express genuine remorse, apologize for errors in judgment or failures to act, and who revises history only in the service of truth — that person could become president of the United States.