The Corner

Where’s the ‘L’ Word?

In this morning’s edition of NBC’s First Read, which I get via email (which I generally find very useful), there’s this item:

*** Clinton’s weekend whopper, and another missed opportunity for the GOP: The raging Khan controversy overshadowed Hillary Clinton’s claim over the weekend that FBI director James Comey said her answers about her email use were “truthful.” On Fox News Sunday, Clinton said: “Director Comey said my answers were truthful, and what I’ve said is consistent with what I have told the American people, that there were decisions discussed and made to classify retroactively certain of the emails.” While Comey said he had “no basis to conclude she lied to the FBI,” Clinton’s blanket statement is a flat-out misrepresentation of how Comey described her handling of the email issue overall. (The Washington Post slapped a “Four Pinocchio” label on the claim on Sunday.) Here’s the thing: Somewhere in an alternate universe where the GOP nominee is Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush, Clinton’s claim would be leading newscasts and knocking the wind out of any post-convention bounce she earned in Philly. Instead, a debate about Trump’s lack of empathy for a Gold Star family and a crisis in the GOP is crowding out what should be a solid hit on the Democratic nominee. For as much as Trump’s unforced errors frustrate Republicans, the same can be said for Clinton and Democrats. Why did she have to exaggerate what Comey said? Why twist the interpretation of what he said where it stops resembling the truth? She has a shot at putting this race away, but this answer on emails and interpreting Comey is the explanation for why she can’t totally shake Trump. It’s his character vs her honesty.

Now, I agree with the political analysis here. But it’s pretty annoying — and representative of much of the media — how First Read still can’t bring itself to use the word “lie.” Instead we get “flat-out misrepresentation,” “exaggerate” and a twisted “interpretation.” These strike me as dodges and equivocations designed to avoid being on the record calling Clinton a liar. She did not “exaggerate” what Comey said. You can only exaggerate the truth. An exaggerated lie is still just a lie. James Comey said in no uncertain ways that Clinton did not tell the truth. Sure, it’s possible to tell untruths without being a liar. But this is simply not one of those times. There is less than zero evidence that Clinton was merely mistaken, misinformed or confused because there’s is ample evidence she knew the words coming out of her mouth were false. Her lies about the server were planned, discussed, written down, and rehearsed. She lied before Congress in prepared testimony and she lied to the American people in prepared statements. Maybe she didn’t lie to the FBI — but that just proves she knew what the truth was and saved it for the only people she feared lying to: The FBI.

Let’s all be honest and tell the truth because Hillary Clinton isn’t and doesn’t.

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute and is a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, is on sale now.

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