Saturday, March 29, 2008

Sniping Over Sniper Fire

The media hanging jury has pounced on Hillary Clinton's landing-in-Bosnia gaffe, with her biographer Carl Bernstein noting that William Safire had called her "a congenital liar" and that the public "seems on the verge of returning a negative verdict on her candidacy.”

Even with all the election-year hyperbole, this is too much weight to pile on one piece of self-inflation, recalling the Republican attacks on Al Gore in 2000 for implying that he had been involved in inventing the Internet.

As anyone of advanced age can tell you, memory conspires to improve on the past and sometimes rewrite it--a process best illustrated by the story of Hollywood producer Sam Goldwyn.

A screenwriter he had hired to do a script based on a popular novel came to him after months of trying and told him it couldn't be done. Goldwyn hired another writer and made the movie, which turned out to be a disaster.

Years later, when discussing a new project, someone suggested the first writer. "Oh, no," Goldwyn said vehemently. "He was involved in one of my worst failures."

So the critics and comics might cut Hillary Clinton a little slack. If she retrospectively inflated her anxiety over the Bosnia landing into a false memory, it's the kind of human fallibility that she is accused of never showing.

After seven years of George Bush twisting the truth and playacting in flight jackets, it would be a good idea to separate relatively harmless lies from those that get people killed.


Anonymous said...

No, this one is different.

It's not like misremembering whether or not you shut off the stove before leaving for work. People remember getting shot at. It's a big deal.

It's highly disrespectful to those who manage to do their a jobs while scared shitless in the middle of gunfire, to falsely claim that bravery for oneself.

Peggy Noonan got it right, here.

Larry Jones said...

Clinton likes to say she's "been vetted." I'm sure she's happy for the vetting to continue, the better to make her a strong candidate against the Republicans.