Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Hillary "misspoke"

All the buzz this morning is about Hillary Clinton's dramatic description last week about a trip she took to Bosnia in 1996.

From CNN's story:

She said when she arrived in Bosnia on March 25, 1996, "I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base."

But news video footage of her arrival at Tuzla shows Clinton, then the first lady, calmly walking from the rear ramp of a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport plane with her daughter, Chelsea, then 16, at her side. Both Clintons held their heads up and did not appear rushed as they walked toward the group waiting on the tarmac to welcome them.

The video shows Clinton spending several minutes talking with the group, including an 8-year-old Bosnian girl who presented her with a poem, and later greeting U.S. troops.
Clinton explained later to the Philadelphia Daily News' editorial board (she was interviewing for the News' endorsement, don't ya know) that there really wasn't a discrepancy, and that she just "misspoke.

"Now let me tell you what I can remember, OK -- because what I was told was that we had to land a certain way and move quickly because of the threat of sniper fire. So I misspoke -- I didn't say that in my book or other times but if I said something that made it seem as though there was actual fire -- that's not what I was told," she told the newspaper.

"I was told we had to land a certain way, we had to have our bulletproof stuff on because of the threat of sniper fire. I was also told that the greeting ceremony had been moved away from the tarmac but that there was this 8-year-old girl and, I can't, I can't rush by her, I've got to at least greet her -- so I greeted her, I took her stuff and then I left. Now that's my memory of it."
So do you believe Hillary Last Week or Hillary Today? Check out the video on YouTube and decide for yourself.

Pundits, including Politico's Mike Allen in the CBS clip above, say that this is just another example of Clinton exaggerating her foreign policy experience. I say it's just another example of a Clinton rewriting the dictionary.

Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines "misspoke" as an intransitive verb that means, "to express (oneself) imperfectly or incorrectly." A "misstatement" is something that is stated incorrectly.

These definitions don't quite cover what Clinton did, because neither word considers intent. (And there's always intent in a presidential campaign.) But there is one word that does:

lie: intransitive verb
1: to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive
2 : to create a false or misleading impression