Most Revealing Fibs: Hillary Clinton
"Hillary will begin immediate phased withdrawal [from Iraq] with a definite timetable to bring our troops home."
--Clinton campaign leaflet, New Hampshire.
"The reports that you provide to us really require the willing suspension of disbelief...If you look at all the evidence that's been presented, overall civilian deaths have risen."
--Sen. Clinton, addressing General David Petraeus during his Senate testimony on Iraq, September 10, 2007.
Hillary Clinton is known for her focused, highly disciplined style of campaigning. She prepares exceptionally carefully for speeches and debates and makes fewer factual errors than some of her rivals. The mistakes that she does make are often the result of a poll-driven approach to politics, to appeal to as many voters as possible by fudging her position. She wants to win over hard core Democratic voters in the early primary states without limiting her freedom of maneuver should she become president.
A prime example is her rhetoric on Iraq.
Clinton has made a flat promise that the United States will "get out of Iraq" while she is president. She says she has a plan to "end the war" and "a definite timetable to bring our troops home." On closer examination, it turns out that all these promises are so carefully hedged as to be virtually meaningless. There is no "definite timetable" to bring the troops home or end the war. She has said she "wants" to begin troop withdrawals in the first 60 days of her presidency-but has also talked about leaving a "vastly reduced residual force" in the country for "a limited period of time."
Clinton's pledge to "end the war" contains so much fine print that it is hardly a pledge at all, more a general aspiration. She has described several "vital U.S. national security interests" in that country, including fighting al-Qaeda, protecting the U.S. embassy, training Iraqi troops, protecting the Kurds, and countering the influence of Iran. She has refused to commit herself to pulling all U.S. troops out of Iraq by the end of a second presidential term.
The desire to have it both ways extends to a refusal to say whether the surge initiated by President Bush earlier this year has in fact succeeded in reducing the violence in Iraq. When General David Petraeus testified before Congress in September, he insisted that the level of violence had come down significantly. Clinton said that his data required "the willing suspension of disbelief." While some of Petraeus's statistics are open to challenge, his claims about a general reduction in violence have been borne out over subsequent months. It now looks as if Petraeus was broadly right on this issue at least-and Clinton was wrong.
A couple of other occasions where Clinton's rhetoric has run ahead of reality:
The Pinocchio Test
It is still too early to rank the candidates in terms of their overall truthfulness. I have handed out Pinocchios to all the candidates for individual statements that seem at variance with the facts, but will give them a pass this week. Let me know your thoughts on how Clinton compares with her rivals.
| December 9, 2007; 7:30 AM ET
Categories: Candidate Record, Candidate Watch, Health, Iraq
Save & Share: Previous: The Fact Checker Fact Checks The Post
Next: Most Revealing Fibs: Mitt Romney
Posted by: david | December 9, 2007 12:39 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: coalesce | December 9, 2007 6:00 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: bored | December 10, 2007 2:35 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Joshua | December 10, 2007 4:33 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: dancermommd | December 10, 2007 7:23 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Vaxalon | December 10, 2007 9:31 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: deladeus | December 10, 2007 10:54 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Anonymous | December 10, 2007 12:43 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Anonymous | December 10, 2007 2:03 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Richard Baker | December 11, 2007 10:36 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: zukermand | December 12, 2007 10:51 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Stillwater | December 12, 2007 4:28 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Pettyfogger | December 13, 2007 11:35 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: chauncykat | December 16, 2007 2:42 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: VillyVal | January 16, 2008 1:19 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.