When Hillary Clinton needed to show that she had the courage to become Commander-in-Chief, she concocted the Tuzla Dash, telling a false story on at least four occasions how she had landed in Bosnia under fire when evidence clearly showed she lied. When Barack Obama needed to show that he had political courage, he concocted a story about his reception in Detroit after demanding higher gas-mileage standards. Are these two the same?
Is this another Bosnian sniper incident, where a Democratic candidate for president describes a scene involving some personal courage, but later videotape shows that maybe perhaps it wasn’t really quite all like that exactly?
Sen. Barack Obama, the leading Democratic candidate for his party’s nomination, is very fond of telling receptive audiences the story about how last May he walked right into the automotive lion’s den of Detroit and told those industrialists they were going to have to shape up, change the way they do things and start making more fuel-efficient vehicles to protect our environment. …
You’ll never guess what. The room wasn’t quiet at all. Obama, in fact, got a loud round of applause. And at the end of his address the camera’s view of him at the podium is partially blocked because the audience of local businesspeople and automotive executives was rising to give him a standing ovation.
Certainly, this doesn’t make Obama look very much like the lightbearer of New Politics. He just got caught doing something that Old Politics purveyors often do: exaggerate to the point of lying. Nor is it the first time he’s done so this campaign, or even this month. He just got exposed as shifting his position on “preconditions” involving direct presidential contact with Iran, and no one has bought his explanation of Jeremiah Wright, which can be boiled down to “I sat in the church, but I didn’t inhale.”
This seems rather modest in comparison to the Tuzla Dash, however. In that instance, Hillary tried to fake physical courage of the kind shown by our troops in battle, a theft of honor that is particularly despicable. Afterwards, she compounded the error by dragging out witnesses to testify to her version of events and call everyone else liars. When clear evidence showed that she did not run to shelter but strolled across the tarmac to a welcoming ceremony — with her teenage daughter! — Hillary never apologized for her double-down, attributing the lie to “sleep deprivation” even though she had told the story for months.
Obama’s ovation hardly rises to that level of egregiousness. He could argue that it took a little courage to talk about mileage mandates in Detroit, but he was talking to an audience of supporters, not car-manufacturer executives. Obama also was couching the mandates as an exchange for some hefty corporate welfare, actually closer to a de facto tradeoff for government-run health care. That’s not exactly a Profile in Courage, and it’s not surprising that he got a standing ovation rather than chirping crickets.
The Obama Ovation is campaign-trail exaggeration — certainly fair game for criticism, but it ain’t a Tuzla Dash by a long shot.