One of the more unpleasant parts of writing Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years was reading Hillary Clinton’s Living History. But I had to do it–for the cause! for history’s sake! for my sins!–so I might as well make use of it. Herewith is an accounting–just partial, I’m sure–of some of deceptions, distortions, misrepresentations, and general howlers in Hillary’s book. Perhaps foolishly, I’m trusting her on things like her assertion on page 363 of Living History that “I’m a pushover for big, stirring ceremonies.” Here goes:
1) “Recent deficit projections by the [first] Bush administration camouflaged the real deficit by underestimating the effects of a stagnant economy, the impact of health care costs and federal spending on the savings and loan bailout….” (Page 147)
It was important to the Clintonites to feign shock at the worsening deficit figures when they took office in 1992, to make them seem a Republican conspiracy. In fact, the Clintonites knew about the worsening numbers during the campaign, but–as Bob Woodward has documented–chose to ignore them since they made the (soon-to-be-abandoned) Clinton economic plan totally implausible.
2) “Perhaps most important, the system would allow patients to choose their own doctors, a non-negotiable item in Bill’s view.” (Page 150)
The thrust of Hillary health-care plan was to make it more difficult for people to choose their own doctors.
3) “I knew that Bill was frustrated by Europe’s failure to act after it had insisted that Bosnia was in its own backyard and was its own problem to solve.” (Pages 169-170)
Nonsense. Clinton matched Europe, pusillanimity for pusillanimity, during much of the Bosnia crisis. Clinton’s complaints about European inaction were an excuse to keep from acting himself.
4) “The Independent Counsel, for example, concluded that the decision to fire the Travel Office political employees was lawful and that there was evidence of financial mismanagement and irregularities.” (Page 173)
She leaves out that the independent counsel’s office also found that she made “factually false” statements during the investigation.
5) “The [1993 budget] plan wasn’t everything the Administration had wanted, but it signaled the return of fiscal responsibility for the government and the beginning of an economic turnaround for the country….” (Page 179)
The recession officially ended in March 1991, and the economy was already growing at three percent annually in 1992.
6) “…of an economic turnaround for the country unprecedented in American history….” (Page 179)
The first part of the 1990s followed the standard pattern of the last couple decades–a slowdown in the first two years, followed by a recovery. There was nothing extraordinary about the 1990s until later in the decade, which was a result of a technology revolution, not the 1993 economic plan.
7) “The plan slashed the deficit in half….” (Page 179)
The deficit was already declining in fiscal year 1993, before the Clinton plan took effect. And most of the subsequent decline can be attributed to the growing economy. Also, Congress killed the Clinton health-care plan and his “stimulus bill,” both of which would have worsened the deficit picture.
8) “…the plan raised taxes on gasoline and on the highest-income Americans, who in return got lower interest rates….” (Page 179)
Interest rates increased in the immediate aftermath of the plan’s passage.
9) “Bill signed the legislation on August 10, 1993.” (Page 179)
THIS IS A TRUE STATEMENT!
10) “[The Health Insurance Association of America ads said] `things are changing and not all for the better. The government may force us to pick from a few health care plans designed by government bureaucrats,’ the announcer intoned. It was false and misleading advertising….” (Page 186)
The ads were a completely accurate depiction of the “health alliances” in the Hillary plan.
11) “Consumed with the demands of the Presidency, he told me to decide with David [Kendall] how to handle our response.” (Page 200)
This refers to the decision whether or not to hand over Whitewater documents to the Washington Post. Hillary maintains that Bill was too busy to make this crucial decision himself. This is implausible. David Gergen reports that Clinton said he couldn’t make the decision himself because Hillary had been his partner in the Whitewater business. Gergen speculates that she opposed giving the Post the documents because she was worried that her cattle trades would be exposed.
12) “In the years since, no lawful donor has lost his guns, but 600,000 fugitives, stalkers and felons have been stopped from buying them.” (Page 203)
This refers to the Brady Bill. The number 600,000 is for denials. Some of them are for administrative reasons–botched records and the like. And there is no way of knowing whether those denied purchase go on to acquire guns in some other way. As a general matter, the Brady Bill had no effect on crime rates.
13) “Another trooper who reportedly claimed that Bill had offered him a federal job for his silence later signed an affidavit….” (Page 208)
The trooper in question, Danny Ferguson, didn’t sign the affidavit, his lawyer did.
14) “…signed an affidavit swearing it never happened….” (Page 208)
He didn’t swear that Clinton never offered him a job, just that he never offered him a job explicitly in exchange for a silence. Clinton did offer him a job, and everyone involved knew why, even though he didn’t make the reason explicit.
15) “[Paula Jones] said she wanted to clear her name. But instead of announcing a libel suit against the Spectator, she accused Bill Clinton of sexually harassing her by making unwanted advances.” (Page 227)
It made sense that Jones would sue Clinton, who didn’t have the First Amendment protections of a magazine. He could have helped her clear her name, by telling the truth and/or making an early settlement.
16) “I knew that Bill respected military service, that he would have served if he had been called….” (Page 240)
He was called, but he didn’t serve.
17) “The ongoing Whitewater investigation, despite Fiske’s findings, was about undermining the progressive agenda by any means.” (Page 245)
There was real criminality surrounding Whitewater, which produced guilty pleas from or convictions of 12 people.
18) “Limbaugh and others rarely criticized the contents of the Health Security Act or any other policy the Democrats introduced.” (Page 245)
Oh, come on. Rush Limbaugh has always prominently included policy arguments in his arsenal.
19) “…the giant economic strides Bill had made [by 1994]– the deficit was finally coming back under control….” (Page 252)
Clinton had little or nothing to do with bringing the deficit under control.
20) “….and the economy was starting to grow….” (Page 252)
The economy had already started to grow before Clinton took office.
21) “President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society program–which resulted in Medicare, Medicaid and historic civil rights legislation–was denounced by Newt Gingrich….” (Page 291)
Gingrich denounced the outdated and inefficient aspects of Medicare. See Howard Dean’s comments during the same period, and his defense of them since. Also, he extravagantly praised the Democrats for the civil-rights revolution.
22) “[David] Hale was a well-paid pawn in a furtive campaign designed to discredit Bill and bring down his administration.” (Page 350)
David Hale made his allegations–true or not–before he was ever in contact with the “vast right-wing conspiracy,” and his story never changed. The suggestion that he made his allegations in exchange for money was investigated and no one was charged with a crime.
23) “Anyone who believes that prosecutors can’t abuse the American criminal justice system should read Susan’s book, The Woman Who Wouldn’t Talk: Why I Refused to Testify Against the Clintons and What I Learned in Jail. It’s a chilling account of the abuse she suffered from Starr’s crowd….” (page 406)
Susan McDougal refused to testify about the Clintons, going to jail on civil-contempt charges for 18 months instead. One of the questions she found too outrageous to answer, even with an offer of immunity, was “To your knowledge, did William Jefferson Clinton testify truthfully during the course of your trial?” It was Judge Susan Webber Wright who had Susan McDougal jailed for contempt, of which she was flagrantly–proudly–guilty. Her famous perp-walk in chains had nothing to do with Starr, but was standard U.S. marshals’ practice.
24) “Members of Starr’s team, and Starr himself, appeared to be leaking secret grand jury testimony, which was against the law.” (Page 406)
“Appeared” is a weasel word. Starr was absolved of making any illegal leaks.
25) “The previous fall, Starr had finally conceded that Vince Foster really had committed suicide.” (Page 439)
This is a cheap shot. Starr never doubted that Foster had committed suicide. He reopened the investigation only to try to tie up every last loose end.
26) “Although there had been opportunities to settle with Jones out of court, I had opposed the idea in principle, believing that it would set a terrible precedent for a President to pay money to rid himself of a nuisance suit.” (Page 440)
Denying Paula Jones’s charges–and not settling the case–was part of the smear-and-defend tactic that the Clintons had used at least since the 1992 campaign. Preserving the institution of the presidency had nothing to do with it.
27) “He said that she had misinterpreted his attention, which was something I had seen happen dozens of times before. It was such a familiar scenario that I had little trouble believing the accusations were groundless.” (Page 441)
It’s unlikely that Clinton’s attentions were so often “misinterpreted.”
28) “We later learned that Reno’s recommendation was based on incomplete and false information provided to her by the OIC. Bill had been blindsided, and the unfairness of it all made me more determined to stand with him to combat the charges.” (Page 442)
Clinton wasn’t blindsided. He knew that Monica was on the Jones witness list, and his lawyer Bob Bennett urged him not to lie under oath.
29) “….Judge Susan Webber Wright had decided to throw out the Paula Jones lawsuit, finding that it lacked factual or legal merit.” (Page 452)
This implies that Wright found that the Jones incident never happened. She didn’t.
30) “It would have been difficult for the United States to send troops [to Rwanda] so soon after the loss of American soldiers in Somalia and when the Administration was trying to end ethnic cleansing in Bosnia.” (Page 455)
Yes, it would have been “difficult”–which is why Clinton didn’t do it, despite all his preening about Africa. It’s untrue, however, that at this time that he was trying to end the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia. He was taking a pass on that as well–because it too was “difficult.”
31) “But Bill and his national security team were having a hard time directing congressional attention and government resources to the growing threats at home and abroad. Perhaps that was because so much energy in the news media, Congress and the FBI was directed to an investigation of the President’s private life.” (Page 465)
If Clinton had wanted to wage a serious campaign against Saddam–Hillary is referring to the Iraq crisis in this passage–he could have mustered the country behind him. He had no interest in doing so.
32) “I could hardly breathe. Gulping for air, I started crying and yelling at him, ‘What do you mean? What are you saying? Why did you lie to me?’” (Page 466)
33) “With the whole world watching–much of it wondering what the fuss was about–Bill felt that the President of the United States couldn’t afford to appear on television looking weak.” (Page 468)
This refers to Clinton’s speech after his grand-jury testimony. Mostly, he was just pissed. If he was so worried about the appearance of the presidency, he wouldn’t have had Monica service him in the first place.
34) “…and the integrity of the Constitution hung in the balance.” (Page 472)
Impeachment is a procedure set out in the Constitution. Using it is not an offense to the Constitution.
35) “I was convinced that [Starr] had overstepped his legal authority. The Constitution requires the legislative branch of government–not the independent counsel, which is a creation of the executive and judicial branches–to investigate evidence of impeachable offenses.” (Page 475)
Under the independent-counsel statute, Ken Starr was obliged to present evidence of an impeachable offense to Congress. If Hillary had problems with the statute, she should have urged her husband not to sign it in the first place.
36) “They were supposed to present ‘evidence’ of the impeachable offenses while Bill’s lawyers would defend him. No live witnesses were introduced.” (Page 493)
Hillary makes this seem some unconstitutional deviation on the part of the House managers, when they would have been happy to present live witnesses, but were kept from doing so by Senate Democrats and timorous Senate Republicans.