Hillary Clinton’s dramatic claims of peril on a Bosnian mission
were thoroughly debunked last night in this CBS News report.
** NWN TECH PROBLEMS UPDATE: I see now that comments in the Forum are sometimes not working. I’ll have this worked on. Sorry for the problems.
** THE STATE OF PLAY ON HILLARY AND HER BOSNIA WHOPPER. Confronted with widely viewed video of what actually happened in Bosnia, seen by over a million people on YouTube, then running on cable and broadcast networks — her brave experience no more consequential than a flight into Burbank, minus the little girl reading the poem, of course — Hillary Clinton said today that she had misspoken. Once. Due to sleep deprivation. Which did not explain why it was in her prepared text. Or why she had said it many times before. Or why she actually upped the ante on her story after comedian Sinbad called her on it a few weeks ago. As you see below, she specifically dismissed him as “a comedian.”
Then she attacked Barack Obama, saying that she would never be a member of the Trinity Unified Church of Christ in Chicago. As she is not a black person, that was fairly obvious. As was the intent, to distract from her crisis by doing what her campaign had said it would not do.
** MCCAIN IN THE O.C. Interesting morning with John McCain, who today receives Nancy Reagan’s endorsement prior to a big fundraiser on the West Side of Los Angeles, in Orange County. A planned roundtable with Latino business owners in a Santa Ana printing company turned into something of a major address on the nation’s housing and financial markets crises. An address which achieved “roadblock” — carried live on all cable news nets.
The speech was strong on interesting analysis. But vague on policy prescription. Here’s the core of the analysis: That leaves us with a puzzling situation: how could 4 million mortgages cause this much trouble for us all?
The other part of what happened was an explosion of complex financial instruments that weren’t particularly well understood by even the most sophisticated banks, lenders and hedge funds. To make matters worse, these instruments – which basically bundled together mortgages and sold them to others to spread risk throughout our capital markets – were mostly off-balance sheets, and hidden from scrutiny. In other words, the housing bubble was made worse by a series of complex, inter-connected financial bets that were not transparent or fully understood. That means they weren’t always managed wisely because people couldn’t properly quantify the risk or the value of these bets. And because these instruments were bundled and sold and resold, it became harder and harder to find and connect up a real lender with a real borrower. Capital markets work best when there is both accountability and transparency. In the case of our current crisis, both were lacking.
Because managers did not fully understand the complex financial instruments and because there was insufficient transparency when they did try to learn, the initial losses spawned a crisis of confidence in the markets.
As for solutions, McCain would convene various accounting and financial experts to explore the mess, jawbone lenders into keeping some families in their homes — something Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has done to a certain degree in California — and entertain as yet undisclosed governmental solutions. Naturally, his Democratic opponents referred to this as “Herbert Hoover economics.”
McCain shone as usual at a press availability, taking at least 15 questions on all topics before, behind schedule, racing off to a a fundraising luncheon.
His speech, as you see, had its interesting moments. He read from teleprompters, including one large flat screen display about 30 feet in front of him. Intriguingly, he twice referred to “leaders” when he meant to say “lenders.” Clearly, he is most comfortable when discussing leaders rather than lenders, for clearly the two are not the same. In other words, when he is dealing with geopolitics. That’s tomorrow’s big speech, and there will be nothing impromptu about that at a breakfast meeting of the LA World Affairs Council at the Bonaventure Hotel when he gives his report on last week’s tour of the Middle East and Europe.
Although the Latino roundtable was originally meant to showcase his drive to win a large chunk of the Latino vote this November, it became an amalgamation in which the Latino element was diminished. Notwithstanding the fact that virtually all the people up front participating in it were Latino. (Including the owner of the printing business. Nosing around out back, I found a gleaming black Lamborghini. The printing business must be good.)
Meg Whitman served as the moderator of the roundtable. She, of course, is not Latino, but the billionaire former CEO of eBay who served first as national finance co-chairman for Mitt Romney and is now a national co-chair of the McCain campaign. Some high-ranking Republicans want her to run for governor of California in 2010. We’ll see how that goes. She could also turn up in a McCain cabinet.
** LATEST PODCAST. My thoughts on The Speech, the race, and the road ahead.
** TECHNICAL PROBLEMS ON NWN. Many of you have noted various technical problems with NWN, beginning late yesterday afternoon and continuing into today. I’ve been experiencing them, too, and have had trouble managing the site. They stem from an underlying technical transition with the host system. I’m told the problems will soon be corrected.
** HILLARY’S BIG ADVENTURE NOW A BIG PROBLEM.
From Hillary Clinton’s George Washington University speech last Monday: Good morning. I want to thank Secretary West for his years of service, not only as Secretary of the Army, but also to the Veteran’s Administration, to our men and women in uniform, to our country. I certainly do remember that trip to Bosnia, and as Togo said, there was a saying around the White House that if a place was too small, too poor, or too dangerous, the president couldn’t go, so send the First Lady. That’s where we went.
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.
Hillary Clinton has a big problem. Her now famous “3 AM ” TV ad helped keep her candidacy alive on March 4th, playing up concerns about Barack Obama’s inexperience and positing her as an experienced national security crisis manager. But she’s having trouble, as readers know, with her proffered experience.
Trouble, however, does not begin to describe her problem with an oft told tale of her “harrowing mission” to Bosnia. Which, as fate would have it, was 12 years ago today, on March 25th, 1996.
After comedian Sinbad, who was on that mission along with singer Sheryl Crow (and daughter Chelsea Clinton), scoffed at Clinton’s story, the Washington Post Fact Checker blog put together the facts last Friday. It assigned the former first lady four pinocchios for lying about what happened. I’ve excerpted that below.
Then CBS News set the record straight in the report you see above.
The truth is, Hillary’s supposedly death-defying arrival in Bosnia looks about as dangerous as arriving in Burbank, as you will see. Although in Burbank, you don’t get the little girl reading a poem on the tarmac.
If Democratic presidential frontrunner Barack Obama did something like this, his campaign would be over. It will be interesting to see how Clinton fares.
From the Washington Post Fact Checker: Hillary Clinton has been regaling supporters on the campaign trail with hair-raising tales of a trip she made to Bosnia in March 1996. In her retelling, she was sent to places that her husband, President Clinton, could not go because they were “too dangerous.” When her account was challenged by one of her traveling companions, the comedian Sinbad, she upped the ante and injected even more drama into the story. In a speech earlier this week, she talked about “landing under sniper fire” and running for safety with “our heads down.”
There are numerous problems with Clinton’s version of events.
As a reporter who visited Bosnia soon after the December 1995 Dayton Peace agreement, I can attest that the physical risks were minimal during this period, particularly at a heavily fortified U.S. Air Force base, such as Tuzla. Contrary to the claims of Hillary Clinton and former Army secretary Togo West, Bosnia was not “too dangerous” a place for President Clinton to visit in early 1996. In fact, the first Clinton to visit the Tuzla Air Force base was not Hillary, but Bill, on January 13, 1996.
Had Hillary Clinton’s plane come “under sniper fire” in March 1996, we would certainly have heard about it long before now. Numerous reporters, including the Washington Post’s John Pomfret, covered her trip. A review of nearly 100 news accounts of her visit shows that not a single newspaper or television station reported any security threat to the First Lady. “As a former AP wire service hack, I can safely say that it would have been in my lead had anything like that happened,” said Pomfret.
According to Pomfret, the Tuzla airport was “one of the safest places in Bosnia” in March 1996, and “firmly under the control” of the 1st Armored Division.
Far from running to an airport building with their heads down, Clinton and her party were greeted on the tarmac by smiling U.S. and Bosnian officials. An eight-year-old Moslem girl, Emina Bicakcic, read a poem in English. An Associated Press photograph of the greeting ceremony, above, shows a smiling Clinton bending down to receive a kiss.
“There is peace now,” Emina told Clinton, according to Pomfret’s report in the Washington Post the following day, “because Mr. Clinton signed it. All this peace. I love it.”
The First Lady’s schedule, released on Wednesday and available here, confirms that she arrived in Tuzla at 8.45 a.m. and was greeted by various dignitaries, including Emina Bicakcic, (whose name has mysteriously been redacted from the document.)
You can see CBS News footage of the arrival ceremony here. The footage shows Clinton walking calmly out of the back of the C-17 military transport plane that brought her from Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany.
The original CBS report on then First Lady Hillary Clinton’s
uneventful arrival in Bosnia 12 years ago today.
Among the U.S. officials on hand to greet Clinton at the airport was Maj. Gen. William Nash, the commander of U.S. troops in Bosnia. Nash told me that he was unaware of any security threat to Clinton during her eight-hour stay in Tuzla. He said, however, that Clinton had a “busy schedule” and may have got the impression that she was being hurried on her way. See clarification below.
According to Sinbad, who provided entertainment on the trip along with the singer Sheryl Crow, the “scariest” part was deciding where to eat. As he told Mary Ann Akers of The Post, “I think the only ‘red-phone’ moment was: ‘Do we eat here or at the next place.’” Sinbad questioned the premise behind the Clinton version of events. “What kind of president would say ‘Hey man, I can’t go ’cause I might get shot so I’m going to send my wife. Oh, and take a guitar player and a comedian with you.”
Replying to Sinbad earlier this week, Clinton dismissed him as “a comedian.”
WHERE THEY ARE TODAY.
Hillary Clinton campaigns in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.
Bill Clinton campaigns across Kentucky in Frankfort, Paris, Maysville, and Morehead.
Barack Obama is vacationing on St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands.
John McCain campaigns in California with a Latino economic roundtable in Santa Ana and private fundraisers.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is in private meetings today in the state Capitol, with much of his discussion centering on the California budget.
He will resume pushing for his budget reform plan around the state on Wednesday.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM RUSSIA TODAY. Russia has re-emerged as one of the world’s great powers. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer, bringing you English-language, jargon-free, fast-paced coverage of global and Russian news from the new Russia Today channel.
You probably already know about CNN International, BBC World, and Al Jazeera. Russia Today, which also features culture, entertainment, and sports, is based in Moscow and is owned and operated by the TV Novosti division of Russia’s state news agency, RIA Novosti.
While it’s quite foolish to expect to see, say, criticism of Vladimir Putin on Russia Today, the channel is very interesting nonetheless. The NWN live link to RT does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** TRACK GLOBAL AND U.S. ENERGY PRICES IN NEAR REAL TIME VIA BLOOMBERG ENERGY MARKET WATCH. Crude oil is trading in the $100 to $102 per barrel range. The oil price has dropped dramatically in the past several days on expectations of a global economic slowdown and possible recession.
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