The most disturbing aspect of Hillary’s Bosnian dissembling wasn’t the lie so much as the ease with which she delivered it. Calling her brazen would assign more effort than she expended. The slippery fib entered her campaign patter without a blink. However dangerous she might be as president, the lady would be deadly at poker.
Had reason intruded, Hillary wouldn’t have concocted a story so obviously contradicted by fact (and film). Did she learn nothing when, after she claimed to be named for Sir Edmund Hillary, it surfaced that he didn’t ascend Everest until six years after Hillary’s birth? Surely she wasn’t named for an unknown beekeeper.
Some of her lies are conventional—the sort common to all politicians. There was conceivable gain in telling the Rust Belt that she opposed NAFTA. But many of her untruths are so clearly invented and easily dismantled as to suggest pathology. She’s certain to be exposed, but she can’t stop herself.
Hillary learned from the best. Her husband, as Bob Kerrey noted, is “an unusually good liar.” But he mostly deceived for predictable reasons: “I never had sexual relations with that woman.” Sure, Bill indulged in random falsehood, like his lip-biting recollection of “vivid and painful memories of black churches being burned in my own state when I was a child.” (There is no such record.) But even this tendency had an internal logic: his Forrest-Gumpian impulse seems a predictable extension of his outsized ego. Hillary’s lies are different.
The sniper story, like her yarn about Chelsea jogging around the World Trade Center on 9/11 when she was actually home watching TV, was spun to ingratiate, to elicit sympathy. Beneath the polished pantsuit, the mousy girl with thick glasses lives on, desperate as ever to be liked. That defining need is sufficient to override Hillary’s considerable gifts—discipline, shrewdness, pluck.
How Obama’s effortless acceptance must gall. His debate quip, “They like you well enough,” sounded offhand but surely cut deep. She doesn’t believe him—and now voters don’t believe her.
A more secure leader—one who thought he’d rightfully earned his stage—would have less need for affection. But Hillary is no such creature. For all the Ice Queen cracks, her driving ambition can’t be power, for she will undercut that aim, against all sense, for a few warm hours before the fact-checkers go to work. She would rather be charming than credible.
That may cost her the presidency—and the prize she truly seeks. Trust may exist without love, but not the other way around.