Last week, in response to a question by CBS’ Scott Pelley on the subject of lying, Hillary Clinton managed to raise eyebrows, even on America’s Botox-infused talking heads.
“You know, you’re asking me to say, ‘Have I ever [lied]?’ I don’t believe I ever have,” said Clinton, “I don’t believe I ever will. I’m going to do the best I can to level with the American people.”
America has not seen this level of chutzpah since O.J. Simpson took the stand at his preliminary hearing and pleaded “absolutely, 100 percent not guilty.”
In either case, the person in question tried to sell a lie that all but the most lemming-like of his or her followers knew to be a lie. In the process, each of them actually succeeded in shocking a citizenry that has long prided itself on being shock-proof.
To save us from ourselves, Hillary may have to shock us a few more times before November.
In his humble defense, when Bill Clinton insisted he “did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky,” he thought he could get away with it.
The same was true with Barack Obama when he told America variations of the following lie on at least 30 different occasions:
“If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what.”
For her part, Hillary knew she could fool almost no one, but lying has become so much a part of who she is, she almost had no choice.
As the late Christopher Hitchens memorably summed up her character, “She is not just a liar but a lie; a phony construct of shreds and patches and hysterical, self-pitying demagogic improvisations.”
The proudly left-of-center Hitchens took his title of his book about the Clintons, “No One Left to Lie To,” from a quote by Democrat David Schippers, the chief investigative counsel for the House Judiciary Committee.
Said Schippers for the ages: “The president, then, has lied under oath in a civil deposition, lied under oath in a criminal grand jury. He lied to the people, he lied on his cabinet, he lied on his top aides, and now he’s lied under oath to the Congress of the United States. There’s no one left to lie to.”
Earlier in her career, Hillary lied as necessary to protect the Clinton brand. Appalled by her performance, the usually restrained William Safire famously designated her “a congenital liar” in a 1996 New York Times op-ed titled “Blizzard of Lies.”
Jack Cahill’s latest book illustrates how the neo-Puritan progressive movement came to mimic a religion in its structure but not at all in its spirit — order “Scarlet Letters: The Ever-Increasing Intolerance of the Cult of Liberalism”
In the piece, Safire made no reference to Bill Clinton’s sexual misadventures. He referred instead to Hillary’s commodity trading scandal, her obstruction of justice in the aftermath of White House counsel Vince Foster’s death, her role in the Whitewater affair and her machinations in a grubby in-house scandal known as “Travelgate.”
In each case, wrote Safire, “She lied for good reason.” Lying preserved Bill Clinton’s shot at re-election and spared Hillary a pants suit of prison orange.
For Hillary 2016, lying is the Clinton brand. One can imagine the commercial possibilities, “If you’re a Clinton, and you run for office, you lie, it’s what you do. If you want to save 15 percent or more on car insurance, you switch to Geico, it’s what you do.”
This would, of course, be humorous were Hillary Clinton not so well positioned to become the 45th president of the United States.
This will become a reality if voters on the right follow through with their proud Facebook declarations to vote Republican only if their guy is the nominee or some other guy is not.
So we have to hope Hillary keeps on howling, keeps on barking, keeps on lying, keeps on getting caught in lies. Her outsized mendacity may just unite a fractious right and save America from a future too perverse to contemplate.
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