Hillary, Serial Fabulist?

Has Hillary Clinton’s Tuzla fantasy opened a bigger can of worms for the presidential aspirant? Jake Tapper at ABC News wonders whether the press should take a look at earlier Hillary anecdotes to determine whether a pattern of fabulism exists. Sure enough, he discovers an old chestnut from 1994 that Hillary has not bothered to dust off for the current campaign:

In light of Tuzla-gate (catchy, no?), reporters are going over past statements by Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, (and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois) to see if others don’t stand more rigorous examination.

One that may get renewed scrutiny is a story she told “Women in Military Service” in 1994 — that shortly after the end of the Vietnam war, she looked into joining the Marines.

In June 1994, Clinton told an organization trying to build a memorial for women who had served in the armed forces, that while living in Fayetteville, Arkansas, in 1975, “I decided that I was very interested in having some experience in serving in some capacity in the military. So I walked into our local recruiting office…”

And the rest may not be history, at least not in the sense of, well, it actually happening. Hillary married Bill Clinton in 1975, and his political career looked very, very bright; as Tapper notes, he was considered a shoo-in for the Attorney General election the next year. Even Maureen Dowd in 1994 questioned the notion that Hillary intended to dump Bill and his political future for a stint as a jarhead.

The story gets pretty strange. She claims that the Marine recruiter told her she was too old (27), her eyesight was too poor, and … she had one too many X chromosomes. Now, in 1975, the military services were struggling for recruits. The draft had ended, the Vietnam War had left a generation of potential recruits looking elsewhere, and Congress was pressing the recruiters to find more women. It’s not impossible that a Marine recruiter would chase a 27-year-old woman out of his office, but it certainly seems highly unlikely, especially one with a law degree and some experience in the field.

Unlike the Tuzla episode, no witnesses to this transaction have appeared, nor are any likely to do so. However, the collapse of her credibility this week, after repeating the story at least four times during the campaign, calls into question her personal anecdotes, especially those that paint her in the kind of crusading light as this does. Hillary can expect greater scrutiny of her claims, especially since the media got burned by its credulity on Tuzla.

Addendum: Can we stop with the “-gate” scandal names? It’s not “catchy”; it shows an incredible lack of creativity. I don’t know how to break it to the media, but the Watergate scandal didn’t actually have anything to do with water. Instead of mindlessly applying the same hackneyed and inappropriate suffix to every scandal, why not come up with something interesting and original? Here are a few we can offer for free to our friends in the media:

  • Tuzla Dawn
  • The Tuzla Gauntlet
  • The Tuzla Dodge
  • The Tuzla Dash
  • Her Own Private Tuzla
  • Tuzla Two-Step

Feel free to add your suggestions in the comments.

Update: I suppose it won’t be long before we get to the fabulist tale of how Hillary got her name, as some of our commenters suggest. Snopes delivers the bad news to Hillary, even if the news media hasn’t exactly caught up to this bit of fabulism:

Hillary Clinton said her mother, Dorothy Rodham, “had read an article about the intrepid Edmund Hillary, a one-time beekeeper who had taken to mountain climbing, when she was pregnant in 1947 and liked the name.” Although it is true that Edmund Hillary did not perform the feat that made him a household name throughout the English-speaking world until 1953 (by which time Hillary Rodham was already six years old), it is not true, as many skeptics have asserted, that Edmund Hillary was nothing more than an obscure Auckland beekeeper until then. Even before World War II he was already a serious mountain climber who boasted to a friend that “some day I’m going to climb Everest,” and by 1947 he was honing the necessary skills on the peaks of the Southern Alps. It’s certainly possible young Edmund was profiled in some periodical as far back in 1947.

However, how likely was Dorothy Rodham, a Chicago housewife, to have seen an article about a New Zealand mountain climber? We performed a comprehensive search of several major American newspapers (including the Chicago Tribune) and found that none of them made any mention of Edmund Hillary whatsoever prior to June 1953, so it’s fair to say that the American media paid him little note prior to his successful assault on Mt. Everest that year.

That little bit of fabulism didn’t hurt anyone except Hillary herself when people did the obvious math.  It did indicate a relationship between Hillary and Truth that seems rather distant and entirely self-serving.