SCHONEKER: A Clinton’s collapse



Jake Schoneker

Not long ago, Hillary Clinton’s return to the White House seemed inevitable. Now, with the Pennsylvania primary on April 22 drawing near, the Clinton campaign is falling apart – she’s hopelessly behind in the popular vote, Democratic leaders are calling her to quit and her chief campaign adviser, Mark Penn, recently resigned.

What happened to Clinton? At the heart of her decline is her dishonest political rhetoric, which has been exposed and exploded by mainstream media in recent weeks.

We’ve heard from the start that Clinton is the most experienced democratic candidate. To legitimate her experience, she cites her travels as first lady, when she was sent, “to places the president would not go” – like Bosnia, where she bravely went into enemy territory and narrowly avoided sniper fire.

News footage, however, tells a different story of the Bosnia trip – sans sniper fire – with a poem and a kiss from a child. If that’s what we’re calling foreign policy experience, we have a problem. Sure, presidents kiss a lot of babies, but that should hardly count as a resumé booster.

Clinton says she is the strongest candidate against the war in Iraq. Her rationale? She compares her record with Obama’s only after he joined the U.S. Senate. The record begins in January 2005; nothing before that counts. She told her supporters in Oregon last Saturday, “Since Sen. Obama came to the Senate, he and I have voted exactly the same … I actually started criticizing the war in Iraq before he did.”

This misleading timeline of hers conveniently leaves out her vote to authorize the war in 2002, as well as Obama’s unwavering criticism of it between 2002 and 2005. But even if you use Clinton’s timeline, she is still lying.

The statement Clinton refers to – her confirmation of Condoleeza Rice as Secretary of State on Jan. 26, 2005 – was preceeded by eight days by an open criticism by Obama in a letter to Rice. Even Clinton’s attempts to distort the past have been unable to hide her historic errors in judgment.

Clinton, of course, is also a champion of universal health care. She boosts her case by telling dramatic tales of victims of the American system. One story she liked telling in her stump speech involved an uninsured pregnant woman in Ohio who died along with her baby because she couldn’t afford a $100 hospital fee.

One problem: the story is false. The New York Times reported last week that the woman in question actually did have insurance and received care.

The non-profit hospital that treated the woman says that the Clinton campaign never even contacted them to confirm the story, and Clinton’s camp has since conceded the fact that the story is inaccurate. It sounded good though, right?

OK, OK – so Clinton fibs to boost her foreign policy “experience,” distorts history to portray herself as a consistent critic of war and justifies universal health care on the basis of dramatized and erroneous stories. Clinton’s latest incarnation of herself is as a protector of the working class, a “consistent opponent” of the North American Free Trade Act, which many communities blame for the outsourcing of factories and the devastation of the American work force.

It’s great rhetoric, but it simply isn’t true. According to recently released schedules of her activity as first lady in the White House, she actually fought to pass NAFTA, holding five strategy meetings aimed at gaining Congressional approval for it in 1993. Don’t take my word for it – here’s Clinton in 1996: “Everybody is in favor of free and fair trade, and I think NAFTA has proven it’s worth.” Consistent opponent, indeed.

Truth be told, Clinton’s only “consistent” position has been whatever people want to hear. She seems to be above the truth, as evidenced by her repeated “misspoken-ness” and distortion of the record. We learned in 2004 that people don’t vote for a flip-flopper. On April 22, we’ll find out if people will vote for a liar.


Jake Schoneker is a senior humanities and political science major from Landsdale, Pa. He can be reached at [email protected].