To complement Ed’s post this morning, here’s further evidence that conservative complaints about media bias aren’t always futile. Ain’t no way, no how, no chance this old story would have been picked up for fresh scrutiny by WaPo or CNN if not for Republicans yelling at the media the last few weeks about holding Ben Carson to a higher biographical standard than Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. What I can’t figure out is why Hillary continues to bring this old nonsense up on the trail. She doesn’t need it for her feminist credentials; she certainly doesn’t need to prove how hawkish she is in a Democratic primary. The story’s been attacked sporadically by skeptics for 20 years. Why dare the media to come sniffing around it? Even weirder, when ABC News first checked up on her “I tried to join the Marines story” in 2008, they noted at the time that “it’s a story she never seems to have told again” after initially telling it as First Lady in 1994. (Bill later “remembered” it as Hillary having tried to join the Army, not the Marines.) Now she’s telling it again. She actually dropped the story for many years and has begun to recycle it anew despite the fact that reporters are (justifiably) skeptical and she can’t prove that it happened. That’s Clintonian brazenness for you.
Even as a parable about how public institutions used to keep women out, it doesn’t make sense. The Corps didn’t reject her (just) because she was a woman; according to Hillary, they told her that her eyesight was too poor and that she was too old to enlist. The whole thing reeks of something the Clintons concocted to deal with criticism of why Bill never ended up in combat during Vietnam. That’s okay because, see, Hillary tried to join. The effort was there in the family, even if it wasn’t specifically there by Bill, who, unlike her, actually would have been sent to fight. Again, though, this is all water under the bridge, especially with no veterans in the top tier of the Republican field this year. So why does she keep mentioning it?
Update: The RNC claims that this TNR piece from 2007 was the last time Hillary was asked about this incident. Oddly enough, she didn’t want to talk about it.
Then we were on the street. Clinton’s black sedan was waiting with an open door. Though she was starting to look impatient, I wedged in my second question: What should people make of the fact that she had briefly tried to enlist in the military? At this her eyes narrowed and she threw me a glare of mistrust. “I have very deep and quite broad relationships with people in the military,” she said. As for the meaning of the recruiting visit, “I can’t tell you,” she said with a dismissive wave. “You go look at that.” And at that, the door shut, and she was gone, a faint silhouette behind tinted windows.