Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hillary's Watershed Moment

I know, I know, I'm supposed to be working on taxes. But sometimes you read something that you just have to share.

Carl Bernstein (yes, him) wrote this excellent piece for the Anderson Cooper 360 Blog this morning. It really speaks for itself, so I'm posting the entire thing. I'm sorry if it appears I am piling on Hillary, but as Mr. Bernstein points out, these "misstatements" of hers are a pattern by now. Watching her shrugging this off reminded me of Dick Cheney's "So?" remark to Martha Radditz last week.

Over a lifetime, even little lies and schemes begin to add up. If you are constantly lying (or embellishing the truth, or misrepresenting the facts, or whatever you want to call it), you do tend to forget what is true and what isn't. People who do this are known as pathological liars. We've got a bad one in the White House right now. We sure don't need another!

Read how Bernstein ties it all together:

March 26, 2008
Hillary Clinton: Truth or Consequences
by Carl Bernstein
Posted: 10:14 AM ET

Hillary Clinton has many admirable qualities, but candor and openness and transparency and a commitment to well-established fact have not been notable among them. The indisputable elements of her Bosnian adventure affirm (again) the reluctant conclusion I reached in the final chapter of A Woman In Charge, my biography of her published last June:

Since her Arkansas years [I wrote], Hillary Rodham Clinton has always had a difficult relationship with the truth… [J]udged against the facts, she has often chosen to obfuscate, omit, and avoid. It is an understatement by now that she has been known to apprehend truths about herself and the events of her life that others do not exactly share.

As I noted:
Almost always, something holds her back from telling the whole story, as if she doesn’t trust the reader, listener, friend, interviewer, constituent—or perhaps herself—to understand the true significance of events…”

The Bosnian episode is a watershed event, because it indelibly brings to mind so many examples of this tendency – from the White House years and, worse, from Hillary Clinton’s take-no-prisoners presidential campaign. Her record as a public person is replete with “misstatements” and elisions and retracted and redacted and revoked assertions…

When the facts surrounding such characteristic episodes finally get sorted out — usually long after they have been challenged — the mysteries and contradictions are often dealt with by Hillary Clinton and her apparat in a blizzard of footnotes, addenda, revision, and disingenuous re-explanation: as occurred in regard to the draconian secrecy she imposed on her health-care task force (and its failed efforts in 1993-94); explanations of what could have been dutifully acknowledged, and deserved to be dismissed as a minor conflict of interest — once and for all — in Whitewater; or her recent Michigan-Florida migration from acceptance of the DNC’s refusal to recognize those states’ convention delegations (when it looked like she had the nomination sewn up) to her re-evaluation of the matter as a grave denial of basic human rights, after she fell impossibly behind in the delegate count.

The latest episode — the sniper fire she so vividly remembered and described in chilling detail to buttress her claims of foreign policy “experience” — like the peace she didn’t bring to Northern Ireland, recalls another famous instance of faulty recollection during a crucial period in her odyssey. On January 15, 1995, she had just published her book, It Takes a Village, intended to herald a redemptive “come back” after the ravages of health care; Whitewater; the Travel Office firings she had ordered (but denied ordering); the disastrous staffing of the White House by the First Lady, not the President — all among the egregious errors that had led to the election of the Newt Gingrich Congress in 1994.

On her book tour, she was asked on National Public Radio about the re-emergence of dormant Whitewater questions that week, when the so-called “missing billing records” had been found. Hillary stated with unequivocal certainty that she had consistently made public all the relevant documents related to Whitewater, including “every document we had,” to the editors of the New York Times before the newspaper’s original Whitewater story ran during Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign.

Even her closest aides — as in the case of the Bosnian episode 18 years later — could not imagine what possessed her to say such a thing. It was simply not true, as her lawyers and the editors of the Times (like CBS in the latest instance) recognized, leading to huge stories about her latest twisting of the facts. “Oh my God, we didn’t,” said Susan Thomases, Hillary’s great friend, who was left to explain to the White House lawyers exactly how Hillary’s aides had carefully cherry-picked documents accessed for the Times in the presidential campaign. The White House was forced — once again — to acknowledge the first lady had been "mistaken”; her book tour was overwhelmed by the matter, and Times’ columnist Bill Safire that month coined the memorable characterization of Hillary Clinton as “a congenital liar.”

“Hillary values context; she does see the big picture. Hers, in fact, is not the mind of a conventional politician,” I wrote in A Woman In Charge. “But when it comes to herself, she sees with something less than candor and lucidity. She sees, like so many others, what she wants to see.”

My book concluded with this paragraph:
As Hillary has continued to speak from the protective shell of her own making, and packaged herself for the widest possible consumption, she has misrepresented not just facts but often her essential self. Great politicians have always been marked by the consistency of their core beliefs, their strength of character in advocacy, and the self-knowledge that informs bold leadership. Almost always, Hillary has stood for good things. Yet there is a disconnect between her convictions and her words and actions. This is where Hillary disappoints. But the jury remains out. She still has time to prove her case, to effectuate those things that make her special, not fear them or camouflage them. We would all be the better for it, because what lies within may have the potential to change the world, if only a little.”

The jury — armed with definitive evidence like the CBS tape of Hillary Clinton’s Bosnian adventure — seems on the verge of returning a negative verdict on her candidacy.

- Carl Bernstein, AC 360° Contributor


Gryphen said...

Excellent post d.k.!

I did not even realize that Carl Bernstein had written a Hillary book!

Oh well his insights seem to be dead on in light of all that we have been seeing lately.

D.K. Raed said...

neither did I, but it makes sense. Woodward wrote about "W". Bernstein tackled Hillary. He really does see the pattern. This is not an isolated incident with her. I don't want her near the 3AM phone. She'd probably mistake a prank phone call for WWIII.

I was just playing around with my link to "pathological liars" ... trying to see how many points fit Hillary. Quite a few, more than should be allowed in the WH!

enigma4ever said...

It is an amazing post....I actually read his book when it came out....but I was busy painting and working on the house and at the time- I thought wow- he is being kind of harsh....BUT WOW...NOW it ALL makes sense....

It was funny...
I have the it takes a Village was not great, it lack Humanity...depth..when I bought it - I was a young mom..I was looking for the "Mothering side" of her......and it was not was empty...

THEN in 2004, after going through a recent seperation , ending of a 20 year marriage I bought her "Living History" book...and yeah, it was selfish of me, but I thought - she is a strong person, how did she get through the Monica Years....How did she find " herself " again....but I again came away empty...and I thought it was me- looking for Intimate REAL details about Signifigant Woman....

BUT NOW what I see is that there is REAL emptiness there....and that the lies she has created FILL something INSIDE her....

We can not Have that kind of Leader...BUSH has taught us that lesson WELL...very well...

D.K. Raed said...

You have more strength than I -- to read Hillary's books! I've read excerpts that left me with ZERO desire to read more. I do think she is a significant woman, but how she came to that position is as important as how she deals with it now. The lengths she goes to to endear herself leave me cold. When she's not in her endearing mode, she's in Ms. Tough Powerhouse mode. She's also got the shrieking mad mode, the burning wonk mode, the so-bitter-to-see-you mode, among others. Where is Hillary in all these modes? It's like she punches a button & becomes what she perceives she needs to be to win the moment. And sady, I even think that's why she wrote those books ... so that she'd establish herself in that venue for future use in her public life. She is always, ALWAYS, focused on her own rise. She only reaches out to those who can do something for her or her career. She should've paid more attn to RFK back in '68.

ps, "how did she get throught he Monica years"? same as every other year, it was nothing new to her personally. If Bill/Hill are the Perfect Power Couple, I will gladly remain weak, but happy.

enigma4ever said...

I have alot of Poli-Sci books- and 6-6 has always read Polisci- since he was 9.....first with Al Franken an then Micheal Moore...etc....But yes, I did buy her books, and was very dissappointed, I did think she was a signifigant First lady....UNTIL I read her books...they were so empty, emotionally, it was like reading a desk calendar...even the part about Monica- she wrote that she was angry in the books- but really did not tell much about HOW she got through it...and later I have pondered- I don't think she ever really did get through it...that anger has been there simmering....The other odd thing- there is very little in those books about Mothering or being a Wife ( sorry) but that is what makes people REAL...their real lives....

Also if you read Dreams of My Father ( now in paperback-13 dollars) and also Audacity of Hope- you really do meet the Obama the man- very very different books...and very really did help me decide to vote for him.....( BTW yes, Edwards and Kerry also had books- and ahem...kind of dry....okay very dry....)

D.K. Raed said...

You always put such a human face on things! I don't know if Hillary ever got over the anger over Monica; in fact I'm not sure she had anger, except for being angry over what it cost them in bad publicity & compromised presidential aspirations. See, to me, a real human (as she's always reminding us she is) first deals with the personal issues & works from there outward.

I get your hint about Obama's paperback. I keep meaning to get it at the library. Maybe after tax crunch time is over. The excerpts from both his books are enticing. I guess I have a thing against presidential candidates books. I never read Kerry's or Edwards' or Bill Clinton's either. I did read Al Gore's "Earth in the Balance" book back in the early 90's, but that was more of a "historical document" (gag, hack, condi is infesting my brain, I better go).

Fran said...

Interesting conversation-- I always got the impression Hillary was in it for the power. Her *deep conviction* side never surfaces. Also for me, when there are very clear ethical directions one can choose, Hill always seems to find herself skirting the edge & pushing the limits of what is ethical. We don't need no stinking marginal ethics, Eh?
I'm sick of hindsight explanations, choose the clearly ethical path & save us the tapdance of justification.

D.K. Raed said...

Fran: Good to see you!
I recall some old Time Magazine piece written back during Bill's 1st term where they did interviews with old college chums of Hill. One guy said it was obvious that WHOEVER she married would be president. At the time, I thought wow that is one power hungry woman. But you bring up a deeper point about conviction. Her conviction seems all about winning, not about her goals for america. This could be why the ethical issues are a problem for her. Winning the campaign by any means necessary, being the president -- that's what she's about. Not much room for ethics when you are focused that way.

Fran said...

Hill wants to win so bad, she's behaving like a loser. Can't let ethics get in the way!

Where did dk go??? Back to the tax dungeon??

D.K. Raed said...

It's Calgon-take-me-away time. Remember that old commercial?

TomCat said...

I think Fran has it pretty well pegged. Clinton has fallen so far behind that she was desperate to portray herself as heroic and larger then life. Since the truth could not accomplish that she embellished to a ridiculous extreme. This must be very hard for her. She entered the campaign believing that she is entitled to the presidency. By my calculations, her chances of winning the nomination, let alone the presidency are less than one in ten. That she might lose never occurred to her, and she cannot accept that reality. Perhaps, since she thinks that she is right for the job, whatever she does to get it is justified. If so, that's the same thinking error that prompted the Bush Reich to justify their many criminal atrocities.

D.K. Raed said...

Hi, Tomcat: hope you're feeling better. I agree with you & Fran. One piece of evidence that points to her believing she had a lock on the nomination was how fast her campaign ran out of money after Iowa. She thought it would be a done deal so quickly, she blew through her initial campaign war chest like a saudi prince let loose in vegas. But, as Jon Stewart likes to point out, then the people began voting. I just read that the prelim TX convention is handing 59% of their delegates to Obama, which puts him above 1800 pledges so far. Getting close to closing time for Hill. Last call!