WASHINGTON -- As the Clintons enter their 17th year at the center of the national stage, some Washington pundits are running out of patience with them. My condition is more desperate. I am running out of jokes about these two perennial college kids. History eventually will remember them as the reincarnation of Warren and Florence Harding. For now, they come off as two undergraduate BSers on a protracted spring break. Hillary BSes about her indispensability to the first Clinton administration. Bill agrees with her and BSes about everything under the sun.
At the beginning of their delightful presidential campaign, a charmless New York Times reporter asked me whether conservatives would be as critical of Hillary as they were of Bill when he was the Boy President. The assumption was that somehow the Clintons were ingenues, utterly undeserving of the criticism leveled at them in the 1990s. I told him that the Clintons would attract unwanted notice again "because they get in trouble." They skirt the law. They defy ethical standards. Most brazenly, they lie when there is no reason to lie, and they deploy a whopper when a little white lie would be perfectly adequate and even understandable.
Now, just as it looked as if Hillary might have grown up, she has been caught in at least two whoppers. Both undermine her perfectly understandable white lie that as first lady, she acquired sufficient executive experience to be president of the United States -- possibly the greatest president since George Washington, who never had a word to say about children's rights or health care on the house.
Twelve years ago this month, Hillary visited Bosnia accompanied by scores of reporters, photographers and even television crews. She had the singer Sheryl Crow with her, the comedian Sinbad and Chelsea. She also had the security offered by the Secret Service and the entire 1st Armored Division of the U.S. Army. Her visit to Bosnia was perfectly peaceful and uneventful. She says as much in her autobiography, "Living History." Yet on the campaign trail, she has been saying that in Bosnia, she came under enemy "sniper fire." A planned "greeting ceremony" could not take place in Tuzla. Instead, she laughed bravely to her agog supporters, "We just ra-a-an with our heads down to get into our vehicles to get to our base." Hillary, you were at the base, you shameless BSer. The whole arrival is on tape!
Bill, of course, has been caught lying on tape, but he was supposed to lie. After all, he was testifying before a grand jury. Hillary now has been caught lying again, but she was not in front of a grand jury. Rather, she was in front of hundreds of supporters and journalists on the campaign trail. Moreover, the events she lied about were chronicled 12 years ago by journalists and filmed by camera crews. Has she forgotten that as first lady, she traveled with cameras all around her at public events? And there was a "greeting ceremony." CBS captured it and now has broadcast it on the evening news. Members of the military are rebuking her for slighting their security measures and their comrades' courage under fire. "Getting shot at by snipers is not something you forget -- or make light of," one said. Hillary, as liars go, you are a dunderhead.
The other whopper that has been exposed this month is her claim to having been instrumental in effecting the Irish peace settlement. "I was deeply involved in the Irish peace process," she has declared on the campaign trail. Now that Judicial Watch, a longtime Clinton critic, has forced the Clintons to release her heavily redacted White House schedules, it is apparent that she had nothing to do with the peace process other than to appear in public with her husband and smile. Irritated by her BSing, one of the participants in the peace negotiations, Noble Peace Prize winner David Trimble, has asserted, "I don't know there was much she did apart from accompanying Bill going around." A "wee bit silly" is how he characterized her boasts. Yet she claimed in January that "I actually went to Northern Ireland more than my husband did." One of her triumphs, she claims, occurred when she "pulled together in Belfast, in the town hall" Catholic and Protestant women whom she successfully coaxed into putting aside their hostility so "the hard work of peacemaking could move forward."
Reports Toby Harnden in London's Daily Telegraph, "There is no record of a meeting at Belfast City Hall, though Mrs Clinton attended a ceremony there when her husband turned on Christmas tree lights in November 1995." Of course Harnden, a veteran reporter on the American scene, is familiar with such Clintonian guff. Surely he recalls Hillary's BS about being named after Sir Edmund Hillary, though when she was born, the conqueror of Mount Everest was an obscure beekeeper. Hillary and Bill persisted in this false claim even after it was exposed by amused journalists in the 1990s. Both repeated it in their memoirs, apparently unconcerned by the revelations. How much more evidence do we need that the Clintons are fantasists whose days on America's center stage have passed?
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