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Tuesday, March 25, 2008


If you haven't heard about the Clinton-Tuzla flap yet, just watch the video at the bottom of this post. Long-story made short, Sen. Clinton embellished the dramatic aspects of a 1996 trip to Tuzla, Bosnia, and video from the time has rather embarrassingly contradicted her account. The image at left is Sen. Clinton ducking sniper fire at the airport.

That this episode lays bare Sen. Clinton's somewhat embellished claims to foreign policy experience has been well covered by other blogs. One aspect of the story that I really haven't seen others discuss, to my surprise, is how this episode undercuts Clinton's long claims ofher experience and ability as a candidate, not as a potential President.

One of the earliest arguments that I remember in favor of Sen. Clinton was that she would run a capable campaign and not let down Democrats in October and November. The argument I heard from Clinton supporters was as follows:
  • The media, as it has done in the past, will jump on any minor misstep or gaffe by the Democratic candidate in the fall, and turn a body gesture or awkward phrase into the downfall of the candidate.
  • Obama is inexperienced as a candidate on the national stage, and thus is more prone to making an amateur mistake.
  • This country will suffer four more years of "surging" in Iraq, inaction on global warming, and right wing supreme court justices all because Obama slipped up in late October.
  • Sen. Clinton has been under the media spotlight for so long that she understands the danger in minor embellishments or how small mistakes can take down candidates, and under such high stakes, we should go with the candidate who won't fumble on the one yard line.
Now, after nearly four months of primaries I haven't heard this line as frequently from Clinton supporters, but it's still around. Obama has shown himself an able candidate who handles crisis deftly. It has been observed frequently recently that had Sen. Kerry addressed the despicable swift boaters similarly to how Obama handled the Rev. Wrigth media flap, he'd be up for reelection right now.

This Tuzla episode, however, should sow real doubt into the minds of Democratic Clinton supporters, in my opinion. The obvious consequence of her running on a platform of experience is that she has had to embellish what is, frankly, not a career built on foreign policy. She will be under even more pressure to pad the resume against Sen. McCain, a man who has been on the foreign relations committee so long that he actually does remember the Alamo.

It would be the height of tragedy if Sen. Clinton won the nomination and then lost the general election (you know, the one that really matters) because the media discovers another dramatically enhanced tale of Clinton's foreign adventures. All the concern about Obama fumbling on the one yard line has been for nothing through four months of an intense primary. Meanwhile, Sen. Clinton is playing out my nightmare for the general.

Of course, I'm sure that Armando, Jerome Armstrong, and Taylor Marsh weren't making that argument. Actually, come to think of it, I should check their archives...

Here's the Tuzla story from CBS:

Click "There's more..." for the rest of the post.