Hillary clarifies: We weren't broke-broke, or something

Hillary Clinton clearly wanted to use her Hard Choices book tour to ‘reset’ her public image in preparation for a presidential run in 2016. Instead, she revived the enduring aspects of Clintonianism, in which word parsing and flat-out fabulism — remember the Tuzla Dash? — are used to create alternative realities that Bill and Hillary Clinton want the media to promote. And just as she did in the weeks following her Tuzla Dash claim, facts, common sense, and media scoffing have forced Hillary into the well-known Clinton fallback of “clarification”:

“Let me just clarify that I fully appreciate how hard life is for so many Americans today,” Clinton said on “Good Morning America” in an interview with Robin Roberts. “Bill and I were obviously blessed. We worked hard for everything we got in our lives and we continue to work hard, and we’ve been blessed in the last 14 years. So for me it’s just a reality what we faced when he got out of the White House, it meant that we just had to keep working really hard.”

Clinton’s comments about her financial situation came after she told Diane Sawyer on ABC on Monday night, “We came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt ….We had no money when we got there, and we struggled to, you know, piece together the resources for mortgages, for houses, for Chelsea’s education. You know, it was not easy.”

It wasn’t easy? The Clintons bought a house in New York in order to make Hillary Clinton eligible to run for the US Senate in 2000 as Clinton wrapped up his final months in the White House. They both sold memoirs that made them millions of dollars, even apart from their multi-million-dollar careers giving speeches. On top of the new houses and new careers, her husband received the cushy presidential pension while she collected her salary and benefits in the Senate. If that’s Hillary’s conception of struggling, then perhaps she should skip the populist strategy she’s apparently considering for 2016, as Jim Geraghty advises:

Remember when I chuckled about New Yorker writer referring to her as “Lunch-Pail Hillary,” suggesting she will run a populist campaign that is “critical of the Wall Street types”? Apparently she really intends to do this.

A woman with a net worth of $200 million, who gives speeches to Goldman Sachs for $200,000 each, is perhaps the single least plausible populist of all time. She may attempt to pose as this reform-minded outsider who will shake up “The System,” when she is perhaps the personification of “The System.” You can count on one hand the number of people who have had more influence over public policy than her since January 1993.

But she’s going to try it, because she is apparently incapable of perceiving herself as she is. Because massive wealth is seen as suspicious or inherently corrupting in today’s political culture, particularly in Democratic circles, she has to pretend she’s middle class, that her personal finance worries are just like those of Americans making mid five figures or less.

The “he’s unbelievably rich and out of touch” attack clearly did damage to Romney in 2012. Hillary Clinton has to hope lots of people don’t react the way Jimmie Bise Jr. did: “I know of dozens of ridiculously-talented, hard-working people who’ll never set foot in a mansion. But Hillary Clinton buys two and weeps.”

Six years ago when the Tuzla story fell apart — she claimed to have landed at the airport under sniper fire in order to bolster her claim to be a foreign-policy heavyweight when video and contemporaneous reports showed no such danger — ABC’s Jennifer Parker decided to look into her past to see whether she was a serial fabulist. Parker discovered an old claim in 1994 in which Hillary claimed to have tried to enlist in the armed forces in 1975, but was turned down for being 27 and having bad eyesight. Parker found this story rather in need of … clarification:

That seems an odd pronouncement for the recruiter to have made, considering that at the time, according to A History of the Women Marines, female Marines who became pregnant were permitted to remain on active service, as this photograph attests.  And I believe the military had a few recruiting problems back in the 1970s — hence their abject rejection of a brainy lawyer wouldn’t make much sense. (Then again, ask a soldier how often Pentagon rules “make sense.”)

At the time Clinton told the story, the New York Times’ Maureen Dowd seemed to wonder about it, pointing out that Hillary and Bill Clinton were married on Oct. 11, 1975 in Fayetteville.

“So, if she was talking to a Marine recruiter in 1975 before the marriage, was she briefly considering joining the few, the proud and the brave of the corps as an alternative to life with Mr. Clinton, who was already being widely touted as a sure thing for Arkansas Attorney General?[“]

At that time, I also noted the claim made by Hillary Clinton to have been named after Sir Edmund Hillary, who climbed Mount Everest — even though that Hillary didn’t make the ascent until six years after the other Hillary’s birth. Snopes could find no mention of the mountaineer in any American publication prior to 1953. While the claim isn’t theoretically impossible, it’s in need of great … clarification.

Looks like we’ll be getting a lot of these clarifications over the next two years. Let’s just hope it’s not the next six or ten.