It should not come as a shock that I am no fan of Hillary Clinton. But, even I was taken aback by her interview with Keith Olbermann just before the State of the Union address. Hillary Clinton lied to Olbermann and to the American people. Not surprisingly, she lied on the most important issue facing our country: Iraq.
I actually missed the interview but my friend, Marcy Winograd, a Progressive Democrats of America activist who ran a primary challenge against another pro-war Democrat Jane Harman, caught the interview. Here's part of what Marcy wrote to Olbermann in an e-mail:
I caught your interview with Hillary Clinton and almost fell off my chair when you did not challenge Hillary on her false statement "I opposed the pre-emptive war with Iraq." Excuse me?! Whooa! Total lie. Keith, she went on the Sunday tv talk show circuit to champion the war and cheerlead for Bush. I heard her with my own ears. And then on the Senate floor re: the Iraq authorization, she was quoted as saying, "It's with conviction I support this resolution as being in the best interests of our nation. It's a vote that says clearly to Saddam, "This is your last chance. Disarm or be disarmed." She has been a huge hawk from Day 1 on the Iraq War, continually votes to fund it, and only very recently, when all the polls indicated she was on the wrong side, started to backtrack.
Marcy was right, if not precise about what Sen. Clinton said. I went back to watch the interview and here are Clinton's exact words on Olbermann's show. Explaining a litany of issues that the Bush Administration has embarked upon that have pushed our country off course, she said, "To launch a pre-emptive war which I said at the time I was against." That is a flat-out lie--as Marcy correctly explained.
Sen. Clinton also lied to Olbermann about her positions since the war began. She told Olbermann: "I have been a very consistent and persistent critic of the actions that the Administration has taken." That is a lie. For most of the period that the violence in Iraq has taken place, Sen. Clinton remained silent, despite pleas from Democratic activists and families whose loved ones were killed in the war that she speak out. Only during her re-election campaign in 2006, when the war was clearly driving the dynamic of the political season, did she begin to pipe up. Her first substantive public criticism of Donald Rumsfeld came, not surprisingly, just a week before the Democratic Senate primary in Connecticut where her ideological soul-mate on the war, Joe Lieberman, was on the ropes. She and her advisors realized that her chances to run for president would be severely compromised if she did not become more visible as a critic of the war
I maintain that had Sen. Clinton used her position long ago as a national figure and as perhaps the single most powerful person in the Democratic Party, to speak out against the war and admit--as John Edwards and John Kerry have--that her vote was a mistake, many lives would have been saved. Instead, we are stuck with the parsing of words and poll-tested statements such as "you don't get do-overs in life" to obfuscate the enormity of her vote and the damage we, and the Iraqi people, have endured during her self-imposed silence.
A plea to the press: do not be fooled, be persistent, be vigilant when it comes to forcing candidates to own up to their records. The voters deserve to know the real records of the candidates, not what they want to spoon-feed the public. Keith Olbermann is a voice of sanity but he blew this one. It's time for a Special Comment, Keith.
Sen. Clinton's unwillingness to speak out early against the war, even after her vote for the war, and her willingness to lie about what she did in the past and to try to rewrite history, is precisely why she is not fit to be president of the United States, not to mention receive the nomination of the Democratic Party. Our country, and our party, need leaders who will own up to mistakes, lead us with integrity and honesty, and have the moral compass to speak up, whatever the political consequences might be.