December 31, 2007

Hillary, The Geraldo Of National Politics (Update: Hillary Fibbing?)

For those who remember when Geraldo Rivera did actual investigative journalism, his excellent work would often get marred by his shameless self-promotion. On more than one occasion, he would interject in his reports that his life was actually in danger while investigating mostly mundane controversies. Hillary Clinton seems to have discovered her inner Geraldo in claiming that she handled all of the dangerous diplomatic missions in the Clinton administration:

Ever since Barack Obama suggested Hillary Clinton's eight years as first lady were a glorified tea party a few days back, she's looked for an opening to strike back.

On Saturday night in Dubuque she pounced, arguing she risked her life on White House missions in the 1990s, including a hair-raising flight into Bosnia that ended in a "corkscrew" landing and a sprint off the tarmac to dodge snipers. ...

It turns out that Clinton wasn't quite flying solo into harm's way that day.

She was, in fact, leading a goodwill entourage that included baggy-pants funnyman Sinbad, singer Sheryl Crow and Clinton's daughter, Chelsea, then 15, according to an account of the March 1995 trip in her autobiography "Living History."

In this appearance, Hillary insists that the guidelines in the White House were that any mission that carried danger should go to her, apparently rather than her husband. If that's true, it may say something about how Bill viewed her at the time, but this sounds more like another Clintonian affectation. If the mission carried that much danger, why would she have taken 15-year-old Chelsea along? Why would she have taken Sheryl Crow and Sinbad into a dangerous situation, where snipers would shoot down their airplane?

This absurdity demonstrates the larger absurdity of Hillary claiming her status as a First Lady as relevant experience for the presidency. No one knowingly sends spouses into harm's way, and they certainly don't send children into a shooting zone. The US usually doesn't send Presidents there, either; that's why we have a foreign service. Ambassadors and consular officials, trained to deal with these situations, usually get dispatched under heavy guard for diplomacy in regions such as these.

When a candidate reaches Geraldo levels of credibility, even the most impressive resume will eventually get discredited. Hillary keeps reminding us that she doesn't have the experience for the job, and she doesn't have the credibility to fool us into thinking she does. (via Dean Barnett at the Weekly Standard)

UPDATE and BUMP: CapQ commenter Jonathan Sabin questions whether this happened at all (UPDATE II: Jonathan himself has more at this link):

I was part of Task Force Eagle in Bosnia during that time. I was part of then MG William Nash, 1st Armored Division, security detail. I take two issues with her statement. First and most blatantly checkable, was the year she states. She's a year off. It was actually March 1996. We didn't go into Bosnia until after the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords, which was in the Fall of 1995, (November, I think). I remember it because it ruined Christmas for just about the entire 2nd Brigade, 1st AD, in Baumholder Germany. Then President Clinton actually came to Baumholder right before Christmas to make a speech. It should be easily checkable.

Secondly, she landed at Eagle Base in Tuzla, Bosnia in a C-17. At that time, it was the most secure location in country, being an old Russian MIG base. The compound was very well fortified and snipers weren't an issue for us. They never were during the entire mission, except maybe in Sarajevo. Our biggest issue was landmines, again, not an issue at Eagle Base as it had been very well cleared.

Shameless self promotion is just stupid when things like that are so easily verifiable.

It should be easily checked -- and we have a couple of reports on trips taken to Bosnia by Hillary. One, from December 1997, shows her landing at Tuzla but with Bill and Chelsea along with Bob and Elizabeth Dole, not on her own at all. Tuzla gets criticized in the article as unrepresentative of the mission, with one serviceman calling it "Disneyland":

Some soldiers said that in visiting Eagle Base, Mr. Clinton was not getting a true picture of life in the field, where troops must shut off their kerosene heaters on even the coldest nights for fear of starting a fire.

''This right here is Disneyland,'' said Pfc. Jimmy Marcom, a 20-year-old from Dallas, as he cast a wistful eye around Club 21, with its clean concrete floor, its walls covered with camouflage netting and holiday greetings, and its wooden cutout of Santa and his sleigh. ''I would love to be in this base camp.''

The Times also has a short blurb on a trip that Hillary took to Tuzla in March 1996. Undoubtedly, this is the trip that Hillary referenced, and a subsequent report by the Times makes no mention of corkscrew approaches or potential sniper fire:

Hillary Rodham Clinton charmed American troops at a U.S.O. show here, but it didn't hurt that the singer Sheryl Crow and the comedian Sinbad were also on the stage.

In her appearance at Tuzla Air Base, the First Lady told a couple of thousand of the 19,300 Americans serving in Bosnia that they were using military power to advance United States interests and values. She said they were part of "the kind of peacekeeping mission every American should be proud of and support."

Not only did she fly in and out of Tuzla, a camp called a comparative Disneyland, the camp was secure enough to stage the USO show there. She also took Chelsea on a walking tour at Camp Alicia, located on the DMZ between the Bosnians and the Bosnian Serbs, with a coterie of journalists in tow. None of them reported it being fraught with danger either. If it had been dangerous, one would have questioned Chelsea's presence on the tour.

It looks like Hillary has stretched the truth considerably with this little yarn.


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