Hillary Clinton wouldn’t lie, would she?
“When I was a little girl, I guess I was a teenager by then … 14, I think, and the space program was getting started, and I wanted to be an astronaut, and I wrote to NASA,” she recounted.
“And I said, ‘What do I have to do to be prepared to be an astronaut?’ And they wrote back and said, ‘Thank you very much, but we’re not taking girls,’” she remembered. “That, thankfully changed with Sally Ride and a lot of the other great women astronauts,” she said.
But “to be fair,” she added, “I never could have qualified anyway, so you know, not something I spent a lot of time losing sleep over, but I really, really do support the space program.”
Righties on Twitter are scoffing at this as the latest, greatest self-serving “enhancement” to Hillary’s bio. I don’t know. For one thing, this story isn’t new. She’s told it many times before. Below you’ll find one example from 2012; she also mentioned it in 2009 and alllllll the way back in 1994, when she was First Lady. That doesn’t prove that it’s true, but it’s not a recent invention in any case. Beyond that, it’s quite true that NASA didn’t accept women as astronauts when Clinton was a young teenager in the early 1960s. The agency itself explains why:
NASA policy at the time required qualification as a military test pilot. The policy, originally established by President Eisenhower in December 1958, stood until the mid-1960s when the first scientist-astronauts were selected. Although the Eisenhower selection policy did not specifically discriminate on the basis of gender, the fact that there were no women military pilots (never mind test pilots) made it clear that women would not become U.S. astronauts at that time.
Six women were eventually selected to be NASA astronauts in 1978. So Hillary’s story is entirely plausible … and yet hard to believe simply because she’s lied so often in the past about ticky-tack details to make herself look more intrepid. Remember her falsely claiming she was named after Edmund Hillary? Remember the phony “Tuzla Dash”? Remember her claiming that she tried to join the Marines when she was 27 years old, having already become a law professor and with Bill running at the time for state attorney general, only to be turned down in part because she’s a woman? Conservatives have been laughing at that story for years. Clintonian lies aren’t reserved for the big stuff, like deleting public records from a private e-mail server. They extend to biography embellishments, too. In Hillary’s case, I think they’re mainly an artifact of her difficulty in connecting with audiences. If you can’t relate to and admire her career as a lawyer and politician, maybe you can relate to her wanting to be an astronaut and admire her for wanting to be a Marine. That makes her seem almost human. Lifelike.
Exit question via Sean Davis: Sally Ride was just four years younger than Hillary and probably got the “no women allowed” rejection at some point too. How come that didn’t stop her?
Update (Ed): To get an idea of just how boldly Hillary lied about the Tuzla Dash, here’s the CBS News report that exposed it in March 2008. Think about how much she sold this when considering if her Marine and astronaut stories hold water.