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I've supported Barack Obama for a while now, but, unlike many here on the site, I wasn't so sure that the math was going to be enough to get him across the finish line. It was possible, I thought, that he could slip up and say something really foolish (which, of course, would be out of character) and fall hard. This was, it seems, the Clinton campaign's only hope. With the tide turning against her, she would need a miraculous flub to overcome the Big O's "Big Mo."

And this week did provide Americans with the spectacle of an embarrassing,  campaign ending gaffe lie. Unfortunately for Senator Clinton, she made it.

[Credit where credit is due: MasterSitsu beat me to this, but I missed it.]

You see, Senator Clinton has made much of her time as First Lady, suggesting that her experience in the White House gives her a foreign policy edge. No matter that her argument makes as much sense, as one Kossack put it, as Yoko Ono claiming she was a Beatle, Clinton has stuck to this argument and for some people, it seems to have worked.

This week, however, Senator Clinton put a pistol to the head of her own campaign and put it out of its mathematical misery. Matthew Yglesias quotes Hillary saying in a speech earlier this week:

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.

That sounds terrible. (If you'd like, you can read the original speech at Senator Clinton's campaign site)

But join me as we flashback 1996 and then return to this week.

There is really little left to say. For all of Clinton's arguments about Obama's lack of experience, this lie shows her supposed foreign policy advantage for what it is: The misty water-colored memories of an egotist.

This will be the punch-line of every statement made about her campaign from here on out. "Sniper fire" will be what the invention of the internet was to Al Gore, except, in this case, Clinton actually said the words which will be used to demonstrate her falsity.

The worst part of the lie is that it's ridiculous. Not only is it not true, the lie itself does nothing more to justify Clinton's foreign policy experience and seems merely an attempt to build some sort of drama. Hell, I was in Bosnia for nine months. I slept with the sounds of RPG fire troubling my dreams and, even shook a bunch of hands, too. I spent a year in Afghanistan and once awoke during a C-130 flight to find the plane shucking and jiving to avoid a shoulder-launched surface-to-air rocket. I  spent hours in bunkers during mortar and rocket attacks (which really isn't as scary as it sounds, since the bad guys lacked both the equipment and the cojones required to make their attacks accurate). I also ate meals with provincial governors and (supposedly former) warlords, smoked hookah pipes with Herati shopkeepers and shook hands Hamid Karzai himself.

None of those things make me a foreign policy expert.

Senator Clinton's superior organization has been the only thing keeping her in the running. Were she just another candidate, she would have been out of this race some time ago and Senator Obama would be spending his time--our party's precious time--going after the Republican nominee. After this embarrassing stumble--which would most assuredly come back to bite Clinton in the general election--I think Clinton is toast.

Update: There are those who suggest in comments that she might have been talking about some other stop, but that really can't be the case. In her speech she's talking about the Tuzla airport. That's video from the Tuzla airport. Rummaging through databases show she didn't fly into Sarajevo on that trip, which is the only other place in the country with an airport large enough to land a C-130. That's clearly a C-130  behind her in the video (see below) and she also mentions that platform in her response to questions.

All the outer bases were served by helicopters (I saw many of them and, oddly enough, have a framed map of the country right behind my desk chair) and the landing pads were connected to the base. Therefore

  1. She couldn't have been on a C-130 taking evasive maneuvers while landing anywhere but Tuzla.
  2. Every other base would have had them "running to cover," but not to their cars, which would have been unnecessary since, upon landing, you're at the base.

Update 2: Commenter reglogge has my back:

Just checked with her published schedules...

the landing in the video was her ONLY landing by plane in Bosnia. Touched down in Tuzla 8:45 am, then two more fights during that day to army posts by helicopter. Left Bosnia by plane again that very evening to Aviano AFB, Italy.
pages 468 to 471

The schedule even has the 8-year-old girl on it, so everything seems to have run according to plan.

No chance that the video shows anything else but her ONLY landing in Bosnia. Documentary evidence.

Update 3: A former Clinton staffer says they were on a C-17 and, yes, that could be a C-17 behind her in that video, but the minimum runway distance requirement is the same for both planes.

Originally posted to nitpicker on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 01:58 PM PDT.


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