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The lies of the Clintons

Right About Now

Posted: April 25, 2008 3:37 p.m.
Updated: June 26, 2008 5:02 a.m.
 
Hillary's latest effort at "embellishing" (actually, it's called "inventing" or "fabricating") on her visit to our troops in Bosnia while a war was going on there comes as no surprise. She was merely trying to inform
us of her foreign policy experience (which, as it turns out, was no more substantial than that of other
first ladies - hardly commander-in-chief stuff).

She made several appearances during which she asserted that her arrival was met with sniper fire, and that
she had to run from the plane to avoid such fire. It turns out that there was no sniper fire, and her off-boarding was a peaceful affair. When corrected (via validating video shots of the event), Hillary apologized for having, in her words, made a mistake (for the first time in 12 years she alleged); she seemed to have forgotten that she made the very same mistake on this very same subject in the very same manner on a couple of occasions in the not-too-distant past.

Indeed, until she was outed by the aforementioned video recollection of the event, she clung to her
"mistake" baloney. Or, in the words of one of her favorite lackeys, Lanny Davis, she "misspoke." Her
effort at reinvention is so typical of the Clintons' approach to honesty that it reminded me of a column I
did (for The Signal) shortly after the Clintons left office (and shortly before I left Santa Clarita).

Permit me to share it with you.

"The real casualty of the last eight years - the truth."

"Throughout the recent campaign we frequently heard that 'issues' should decide the outcome. And I agree that this is, and should be, the case. In this regard the overriding issue is credibility, for it infuses
all other issues with vitality.

"That is, if you can't believe someone, then what difference does his position on any issue make? If he
has a history of failed promises or, worse yet, outright lies, then why would you believe him, and, if you don't believe him, why would you vote for him? The answer is simple - if properly informed, you should
not vote for such a candidate. And that brings me to what I believe is the real casualty of the last eight
years [1993-2001] - the truth.

"Please do not misunderstand; having been around politics for many years, I am not naive. I realize that a certain amount of, what for want of a better term, poetic license is taken with the truth in politics, i.e. a slight expansiveness with respect to campaign promises is considered fair game.

"This is not what I have in mind. I am less concerned with an exaggerated promise with respect to the future than I am with a bald-faced lie about the past. This seems reasonable for obvious reasons - the future depends on a confluence of factors which may conspire to render a current promise either meaningless or unattainable through no fault of the promisor; it may be due to circumstances entirely beyond his control.

"On the other hand, a false statement with respect to an act or event that has already transpired is a lie,
plain and simple; this is unacceptable, and it is what the electorate has been asked to accept with a
frightening degree of regularity over the last eight years.

"I would like to illustrate just how insidious this process has become by virtue of the new vocabulary
associated with lying. That is, Clinton has changed the language of fabrication, almost making it seem
unkind or, worse yet, "negative," to call someone a liar. Let's use Monica Lewinsky as an example, not
with a view to re-examining Bill Clinton's character (or lack of it), but to prove a point.

"You will recall, of course, that in January 1998 Clinton waved his finger in your face, proclaiming that he did not have sexual relations with "that woman." Then, on Aug. 17, 1999, he came before you once again, after DNA evidence had conclusively established that he had indeed had an intimate encounter with that woman, and indicated that he had "misled" you - not lied to you, "misled" you. Are we to understand that there is some substantive difference between lying and misleading?

"Thereafter, he further clarified matters by pointing out that why he hadn't lied to either you or, more
important, to officers of the court under oath was because oral sex did not constitute "sexual relations." Does this pass your smell test? Fellas, could you sell that to your wives and girlfriends? Ladies, would you buy it?

"But our president tried to sell it to us. And then he tried to suggest that this was a ‘private' matter. How
can the behavior of the highest public office-holder with a public employee in the most public location
(while talking on the phone to an elected official on at least one occasion) constitute a "private" matter?
"Now, again, I mention this only to examine the erosion of truth, not to rehash our president's tawdry
behavior. For frankly, in my opinion, his assault on the truth is far more damaging to the fabric of this
country than his rampaging hormones. He did not mislead you, or his wife (I doubt if she was misled at
all; how do you get misled on your husband's hundredth peccadillo?), or the officers of the court. He
flat-out lied to you and, allegedly, to his wife; with respect to the legal proceedings, he perjured himself.

"Now lying is no longer viewed as lying; it is now called ‘spinning,' stonewalling, exaggerating, embellishing, fibbing (a teeny lie), misunderstanding the question. It is by this process that the truth -
the public's only means of ascertaining what is going on - is diluted, eroded, and, eventually, rendered
meaningless. This process is fatal to a democracy. And that is why the ‘cover-up' is always taken more
seriously than the underlying behavior.

"After all, in Clinton's case, we were advised that it was just sex (I have a feeling that this statement may
be the appropriate epithet for the entire Clinton/Gore administration), but, as noted in a previous column,
it wasn't the sex that was the real problem. It was the lying about it that created the problem (and,
incidentally cost the taxpayers between $4 million and 5 $million of unnecessary investigative costs).

"So, too, with Nixon. Watergate was described as a ‘third-rate burglary.' Again, it was the cover-up that
was his undoing (fortunately, he, at least, had the shame or decency, depending on how you look at it, to
resign; Clinton, being essentially shameless, operated under no such constraint).

"As David Broder, a liberal reporter with the Washington Post put it, Clinton's problem was not that
he had an inappropriate relationship with women; his problem was that he had an inappropriate relationship with the truth.

"Again, the point here is that the truth is the real casualty of the last eight years, not the failure to enact this or that piece of legislation. We have never had a first couple as essentially dishonest as the
Clintons. When they first advised us of their ‘two fer' sale -- i.e. buy one, get one free - we should
have inquired more deeply into just what it was we were buying.
 
"In this case, as in most others, we validate once again the old saying that you get what you pay for -
the Clintons may prove to be the most expensive ‘free lunch' that this country has ever purchased. Truth is
the currency with which a democracy honors its past and secures its future. The Clintons have greatly
devalued that currency."

And now Hillary's at it again - surprise, surprise.

Now it's "mistake" or "misspoke" or whatever other term they can try to palm off on a now less than
forgiving public. As the old saying goes, the more things change, the more they remain the same - the
Clintons breathe new life into the saying.

In answer to the question posed in the title of this column, i.e. Hillary Clinton lies?

You bet - as I once observed, when Bill Saffire called her a congenital liar, he flattered her.

Ken Eliasberg's column reflects his own view, not necessarily that of The Signal. "Right About Now"
appears Friday in The Signal and rotates among local Republicans.

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