Monday, December 31, 2007


Death Defying

Not to be outdone in gratuitous self-aggrandizement by some of her predecessors seeking the Presidency, over the weekend Senator Hillary Clinton reflected on her harrowing experience as First Lady visiting Bosnia in the 1990’s.

As reported at Newsday, Clinton stated that “I don't remember anyone offering me tea” during a “hair raising flight” in jocular, likely rebuttal to Senator Obama’s suggestion that Clinton’s 8 years as First Lady were more a “glorified tea party” than evidence of a co-Presidency.

Glenn Thrush reports that Clinton made some further remarks about her “hair raising” experience, and provides some helpful historical background:

The dictum around the Oval Office in the '90s, she added, was: "If a place was too dangerous, too poor or too small, send the first lady."
It turns out that Clinton wasn't quite flying solo into harm's way that day.
She was, in fact, leading a goodwill entourage that included baggy-pants funnyman Sinbad, singer Sheryl Crow and Clinton's daughter, Chelsea, then 15, according to an account of the March 1995 trip in her autobiography "Living History."
As the plane approached the runway, the pilot ordered the Clintons into the armored front of the plane, Clinton writes.

It’s hard to decide exactly what Clinton thinks about when she shares this kind of anecdote about herself. Clearly, she’d looking to boost her foreign policy and leadership bona fides, with a little faux machismo to boot. She’s risked her life before for the American people and our interests, after all.

Just to loan Clinton a clue. You risked your life in many more substantive ways, by endlessly lamenting vast right wing conspiracies, allowing yourself to be the face of sanctimonious hectoring on all manner of perceived social ills, and even abetting your husband’s infidelities, than making a junket to Bosnia (with Child in tow).

I can think of all kinds of troubled individuals and social miscreants who could grow murderous over those very real ways that Clinton has placed herself at risk.

But is she serious here? Does she really consider a publicly reported junket trip to Bosnia with her daughter and some entertainers as worthy of note? Representative of placing herself in harm’s way? Couldn’t she be trying to blend bluster and self-deprecation, you know what her advisors must want to achieve, tough but a likeable person too?

But this doesn’t even work as self-deprecating anecdote. It just causes other unpleasantnesses about the Clintons to reverberate.

Can any of us imagine anyone in the White House actually suggesting, that if a place was too dangerous, send the First Lady? Actually, I can, and I can even imagine that several people, even those not named Bill, might have thought it, if not said it outright behind closed doors.

Too poor or too small, on the other hand, sounds about right, for the traditional venues for First Lady state visits, if not quite in keeping with the image of a Co-President that Clinton is now trying to cultivate.

But perhaps this too, bears an element of truth, among those many Executive Branch staffers and advisors who no doubt could breathe easier when the ambitious Co-President was out of the country, and considered it irony indeed if the venue was poor and small.
(Via Memeorandum)


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