About three weeks ago, Senator Hillary Clinton made clearly false statements about her adventures in Tuzla, Bosnia. She went there twelve years ago to meet with the American troops who were on a mission regarding the Serbian-Bosnian conflict. Her false story can be listened to on Youtube and can be read on different websites as well. The media showed the video which revealed the truth about the then First Lady’s visit to Tuzla.
Even the most fanatical supporters would see that there was no “landing under sniper fire”, that there was a greeting ceremony, that she and the people accompanying her never “ran with our heads down” and that they were never told “to basically run to our cars” as she stated on March 17, 2008. Bottom line is, should we criticize her the way the media did or should we acquit her because she did not recall well what was happening in Tuzla the moment when she said those misstatements in front of the whole nation on C-SPAN.
I am going to present you the possibility of acquitting her first: Hillary Clinton undoubtedly made a mistake – something that she confessed later in her defense speech. Neither she, nor Former President Bill Clinton ever tried to deny the clear incoherence between her statement on March 17, 2008 and the facts.
However, we all happen to have false memories and we all make mistakes because we are human beings. In fact, it could be not Mrs. Clinton the one who has to be blamed for being exposed telling us false accounts, but the media. Senator Obama is ahead in the Democratic race in so many aspects: he is having a slight lead in the popular vote but it is a lead after all; he is now receiving more money for his campaign which are in some aspects twice or more than twice as much as what Hillary Clinton is currently receiving as contributions; and last but not least, now the media is so infatuated with Mr. Obama that it does not appear to be paying as much attention to his slips as it is with Mrs. Clinton’s. Barack Obama did not receive the same amount of criticism about his past connection with Rev. Wright as Hillary Clinton is receiving criticism about her giving false information about herself right now. No wonder if there are people who have already forgotten about his past connections with Rev. Wright and, even more, with those of Antoin “Tony” Resko which connection Senator Obama himself called “a bone-headed mistake”. If we do not need a president whose memory does not serve him or her right, then we do not need a president who might make bone-headed mistakes.
Now let’s look at the other side of the coin: It is a general truth that the purpose of every statement a candidate for a political post makes in their campaign is to ensure them votes. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John McCain and whoever you might think of, do not tell us, the people, stories about their lives or promises about bright future so that we could relax and know that things will get better. They tell us that stuff because they want us to vote for them, this is out of question. Let’s compare the two presidential hopefuls’ stands on the issue whether or not the troops in Iraq should be withdrawn. More specifically, let’s compare which one of them is talking more about it.
Doubtlessly, it is Barack Obama the one who is more willing to talk about the war. The freshman senator, unlike Senator Clinton, never voted for it so he can afford it. As a result of this advantage, he is in a better position to attack her on this issue because of her vote of approval of the war in 2003. As to Senator Clinton, she can do nothing but talk significantly less about it than her opponent and more about health care and her experience as a former First Lady which give her a trustworthy appearance before the American voter. Notably, it is her bigger experience what she wanted to further expose before the voters by talking about her visit to Tuzla, Bosnia.
Barack Obama can’t talk about such experience because he doesn’t have it. Spending part of your life in Indonesia is not what this experience is all about. Having met with leaders of other nations gives a candidate a significantly bigger boost than this and Hillary Clinton knows it. Part of her electorate might have chosen to vote for her eventually because it is sometimes speculated that Barack Obama is too young and too inexperienced to be president of the United States of America. Unfortunately for her, her advantage in terms of more international experience might gradually thaw away after those false statements.
Having given false statements about her stay in Bosnia, Mrs. Clinton is facing the challenge of returning the confidence that people have in her. Doing it alone, however, could lead to failure.
Not surprisingly, her husband Bill Clinton came in help. He said of her defense: “A lot of the way this whole campaign has been covered has amused me. But there was a lot of fulminating because Hillary, one time late at night when she was exhausted, misstated and immediately apologized for it, what happened to her in Bosnia in 1995.” First of all, Mr. Clinton, I am not sure whether she immediately apologized for it. If anybody thinks that my remark lacks evidence, go to Youtube and watch what political analyst Keith Olbermann’s reaction was to her misstatements and, more specifically, observe the part where she clarified what she was saying on Saint Patrick’s Day for Philadelphia Daily News. Look at the date: March 24, 2008! I doubt that a week later is an immediate apology.
Besides, she mentioned her experience in Bosnia more than once. Apart from Saint Patrick’s Day, she also misremembered this part of her life on February 29, 2007 in Dubuque, Iowa and on February 29, 2008 in Waco, Texas. So it is not like she made a mistake once – she made the same mistake three times. Besides the fact that this is a sign of bad memory, this goes to show how weak of a team she is having. Couldn’t they realize that she was not telling the truth right from the beginning? God knows what they have been doing all those three and a half months.
Her misstatements are also not exactly in accordance with what was written in her book “Living History” according to which the ceremony was cut short because of reports of snipers in the hills. And while her book’s records seem a little bit more trustworthy, judging by what CBS showed of her trip to Bosnia, it makes me rather reluctant to buy her book – who knows what else there would turn out to be wrong or partially wrong.
Let’s return to her reaction for Philadelphia Daily News! She said “I was told we had to land a certain way, we had to have our bulletproof stuff on because of the threat of sniper fire. I was also told that the greeting ceremony had been moved away from the tarmac but that there was this eight year-old girl and also I have I can’t, I can’t rush by her, I have got to at least greet her so I greeted her, I took her stuff and I left. Now that’s my memory of it.” People would assume that with what Mrs. Clinton said for Philadephia Daily News, she further worsened her image because it was still not the truth and would therefore ask themselves “Why couldn’t she and her team look at the video provided by CBS News and try to formulate a more trustworthy story and therefore wash away the shame?” Well, I personally believe that they actually did it. In fact, I believe that they did it several times and her reaction was one of the best of the possible reactions.
Take into account her last sentence: “Now that’s my memory of it.” By her false statements about her trip to Bosnia, people’s ordinary reaction might most likely be to start to doubt of her candor. This sentence is there so that Senator Clinton could restore their belief of her candor. Isn’t a person candid when they justify their misremembering a story of their life with a similar story but still a false one? Think about it. Thereby, I find Keith Olbermann’s statement in regards to her reaction for the Philadelphia Daily News that “Senator Clinton appears to be a little fussy on the facts” a little bit irrelevant of a person of his caliber. I think that in his attempt to show firmness in his comments, he went too far – he was too hard on her, harder than he could possibly be.
And last but not least, returning to the former President Bill Clinton’s defense of his wife, I do not completely agree with the Jed Report’s reaction on its website on his statement that “I think she was the first First Lady since Eleanor Roosevelt to go into a combat zone”. It mentions former First Lady Pat Nixon’s visit to a war zone of Vietnam in 1969 as an evidence that Mr. Clinton is also not as trustworthy as he appears to be in his statements. Well the people from Jed Report seem to have disregarded the “I think” part in their report which I find as a weakness.
Despite this, I agree with their reaction to his statement justifying his wife’s age. Bill Clinton said “And some of them when they’re 60 they’ll forget something when they’re tired at 11:00 at night, too.” First of all, they point out that none of her misstatements about her trip to Bosnia was at 11 at night. Honestly, I did not see a concrete evidence such as a clock on the TV screen, for example. However, I do not beg to differ because judging by the atmosphere around Hillary Clinton in those three speeches, I doubt whether the speeches were said at 11:00 at night.
Nevertheless, I completely agree with what they said in their P.S.: “It’s even worse that you’re blaming her age for her Bosnia lies. If you think she can’t tell a straight story at 11 P.M. at night, what’s she gonna’ do at 3 A.M.?” If you, Mr. Clinton, are blaming her age, what can we say about John McCain? If elected, he is going to be the oldest president in the American history. The U.S. presidency is a very responsible position and if he or she happens to forget something because of exhaustion at 11 P.M., what if he or she gets a phone call at 3 A.M.
Don’t get me wrong – the U.S. president is a human being, not a machine and could forget something, but misremembering a whole story is more than that to me. Besides, Senator Clinton might have made a lot of trips and the huge number of trips could therefore be the result of her forgetting some of them. However, trips like going to a warzone to meet with your troops are trips that should have remained in a former first lady’s mind.
What if she deliberately made up this story so that people would vote for her? Some people might find this preposterous because, after all, the media in the United States is rather strong and they make a lot of research. In fact, they even find misstatements made by Senator Obama. However, as you can see in my analysis, even the media in the United States does not make thorough researches.
So what if she secretly hoped that nobody would ever notice that she was not telling the truth about her trip to Tuzla, Bosnia, assuming that she knew the exact story? If it is true that she had those secret hopes, then I must point out that she and her campaign team have significantly underestimated the attacks from the media since its existence.
Overall, I reckon that with her false story, Senator Clinton’s campaign might go down thus narrowing her lead to Senator Obama in the key state of Pennsylvania a week and a half before the state’s primary which will be held on Aprill 22. However, I do not think that Mr. Obama should feel good about it because it might hurt the whole Democratic Party. In fact, in my opinion, the only winner of this situation is Senator McCain because, while the two Democratic hopefuls spend much of their energy arguing with each other other, he will most likely save enough energy for the general elections and be more convincing to the voters as a whole. And this is the last thing the Democratic Party would want.