Hil­lary’s vi­ral nightmare

Cecil Whig - - OPINION - Kath­leen Parker

— You could say that it all de­pends on how you de­fine “lie.” Or, per­haps, that it’s hell to have a pub­lic record.

Ei­ther way, Hil­lary Clin­ton’s vast re­sume of, shall we say, in­con­sis­ten­cies, is the dog that caught the car and won’t let go. A vi­ral video col­lec­tion of her com­ments on var­i­ous sub­jects through the years is be­stir­ring Repub­li­can hearts.

To those who’d rather vote for a re­al­ity show host than a Clin­ton, the video merely con­firms what they’ve be­lieved all along. For in­de­pen­dents and even Democrats, it’s a re­minder of how often Clin­ton has mor­phed into a fresh in­car­na­tion as re­quired by the po­lit­i­cal mo­ment.

Most of the high­lights would be fa­mil­iar to any­one who fol­lows pol­i­tics — her vary­ing takes on Bos­nia, health care, Wall Street, NAFTA — but the jux­ta­po­si­tion of these ever-shift­ing views is more jar­ring than one might ex­pect. Politi­cians count on Amer­i­cans’ short at­ten­tion spans (and mem­o­ries) as much as they do their own poli­cies and/or charms. This video (https://youtu.be/-dY77j6uBHI), inart­fully ti­tled “Hil­lary Clin­ton ly­ing for 13 min­utes straight,” clar­i­fies blurred rec­ol­lec­tions and re­casts them in an or­der that, among other things, re­minds us how long the Clin­tons have been around.

If you’re look­ing for a fresh face or an anti-es­tab­lish­ment can­di­date, Hil­lary Clin­ton isn’t it. But then, nei­ther are Bernie San­ders and Don­ald Trump, both of whom have been haunt­ing the pub­lic square nearly all of their adult lives — one a rag­ing rad­i­cal, the other a rad­i­cal rager.

Pre­sump­tive nom­i­nees Clin­ton and Trump are equally egre­gious in their mis­state­ments, if in sub­stan­tively dif­fer­ent ways. Clin­ton is mea­sured, poised, con­cen­trated and stud­ied when she re­vises her per­sonal his­tory. Trump just says what­ever tiny thought pen­e­trates his pre­frontal cor­tex where in­hibitory func­tion­ing is ob­vi­ously ka­put, blurt­ing ab­sur­di­ties and bro­mides the way pi­rates toss plas­tic beads from pa­pier-mache ships at Mardi Gras.

Lack­ing a pol­icy record to de­fend or re­verse, Trump gets to gloat and sneer at his fe­male foe. He did re­verse him­self on his ir­rel­e­vant po­si­tion re­gard­ing the Iraq War, but the num­ber of real es­tate de­vel­op­ers whose opin­ions en­tered into the na­tion’s mil­i­tary cal­cu­lus in 2003 was ex­actly zero. Oth­er­wise, his evil-clown act to­ward women, mi­nori­ties, the disabled and oth­ers is ap­par­ently ac­cept­able to the Repub­li­can Party.

Clin­ton’s record is some­thing else. The woman who would be­come pres­i­dent prom­ises a con­tin­u­a­tion of Pres­i­dent Obama’s poli­cies, even though she re­jected many of them in 2008. The can­di­date who hates NAFTA al­most as much as she now de­spises Wall Street is cap­tured in sev­eral clips prais­ing NAFTA.

A re­view of her bizarre ac­count­ing of land­ing in Bos­nia un­der sniper fire in 1996 is al­most en­ter­tain­ing. Au­da­cious, re­ally. Rather than duck­ing and dodg­ing across the tar­mac where no wel­com­ing com­mit­tee was present, film footage re­minds us that she and daugh­ter Chelsea Clin­ton calmly walked from the plane, posed for pho­to­graphs with stu­dents there to greet them, and shook hands with a lit­tle girl.

No news here, just a re­hash of his­tory. One web author who posted the video — sent to me by sev­eral read­ers — in­sists that it would be im­pos­si­ble to vote for Clin­ton af­ter view­ing the 13-minute mon­tage. This may or may not be true given the al­ter­na­tive, but a re­freshed me­mory does in­vite fresh con­sid­er­a­tion of Clin­ton’s char­ac­ter.

On ques­tions of hon­esty and trust­wor­thi­ness, Clin­ton con­sis­tently polls low, in­clud­ing among Democrats, which partly ex­plains San­ders’ sup­port. His eco­nomic plan may be fan­tas­ti­cal, but at least he’s hon­est!

Well, maybe. With Clin­ton, there’s no maybe, as the 13 min­utes make clear. For what­ever rea­son, she sim­ply can’t seem to stick to the truth, which, at times, needs nei­ther em­bel­lish­ment nor de­nial. Wasn’t it enough to have gone to Bos­nia to con­duct the na­tion’s all-im­por­tant soft diplo­macy?

Clin­ton has been in pub­lic life long enough to have made some hon­est mis­takes and even changed her mind a few times, which aren’t sins. But trust­wor­thi­ness re­quires hon­esty, which often begets for­give­ness.

Af­ter all these decades, Clin­ton still wants ev­ery­thing ev­ery which way, just never straight­for­ward. Her lengthy ten­ure as a pub­lic fig­ure has be­come her great­est ob­sta­cle. This isn’t only be­cause of her lack of forthright­ness, but also be­cause, hav­ing lived un­der such in­tense scru­tiny for so long, she seems in­ca­pable of al­low­ing her­self the ul­ti­mate dodge: She’s merely hu­man.

A per­son who can ad­mit to mis­takes, ex­press gen­uine re­morse, apol­o­gize for er­rors of judg­ment or fail­ures to act, and who re­vises his­tory only in the ser­vice of truth — that per­son could be­come pres­i­dent of the United States. If only. Kath­leen Parker is a syn­di­cated colum­nist. Con­tact her at kath­leen­parker@wash­post.com.


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