Wednesday, March 26, 2008


To paraphrase the immortal words of Roger Clemens, Hillary Clinton misremembered. If she recalled incorrectly that she had been under sniper fire in Bosnia in 1996, there was little doubt that she would soon find herself under attack at home in 2008. It is not the season to be having senior moments. Yet, as we know, every politician is guilty sometime, someplace of misspeaking. Senator Clinton quickly pointed out that Barack Obama, clearly not old enough to blame his forgetfulness on his age, had portrayed certain past events in his life inaccurately. John McCain, for his part, had recently confused facts concerning Al Qaeda and Iran.. For,Senator McCain, over 70,a momentary lapse can be expected.

Every candidate is under an incredibly powerful microscope. There is not a moment that goes by in which each person running for the highest office in the land does not have to be careful in regard to verbiage. What one thinks may be off the record is not. What one believes is in private is not. The scrutiny is unrelenting. The pressure must be unbearable . Yet, it is they who choose to be in this forum. Each one of them has decided that the millions of words stated, and the thousands of action taken, are subject to dissection and discussion. It is not a place for the faint of heart .

What was somewhat jarring about this misremembrance was that it was repeated on various occasions over a period of months. The image of Ms. Clinton running for cover while in service of her country presented a particularly powerful picture This was a woman who was risking life and limb in pursuit of the greater good. In truth, she was , with great certainty, willing to take such a risk. I doubt anyone would suggest that this was not someone who would put herself in harm's way in pursuit of her dreams for the country. In the sad reality of our times, all the candidates should have a legitimate concern that they run a daily risk of sniper fire on the campaign trail. Yet a willingness to allow oneself to be a moving target, does not make it so. To fabricate for the sake of a good sound bite, only makes Ms. Clinton a type of moving target different from the one intended.

We all expect exaggeration from those running for office. What is a candidate if not the king or queen of puffery. Creating an image is something we accept as a given in our politicians. Each one must be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound to be able to lead a nation so in need of assistance. Yet we find ourselves asking everyday if some of the statements made are truth or fiction. We are naturally suspicious of everything we hear when a candidate speaks. We tend to clutch an honest statement to our chests and hold onto it as a prize. One only has to look to David Patterson's recent mea culpas to understand our love affair with a politician revealing the truth. It was almost like he had a free pass to tell us anything inappropriate that he had done if he did so honestly. Frankly, I don't want to hear or read of any more of his dirty laundry. But, Mr. Paterson appears to be almost heroic for being forthright about being less than heroic.

It is always so refreshing when we believe a politician is speaking from the heart and not the head. It is what often times makes Senator Obama seem so engrossing. While some would chide him for speaking of his visions for a better tomorrow, for me his words seems to resonate with belief and commitment. It is why the abstract seems to be so much more compelling than the concrete. Senator Clinton, try as she might, does not offer the verbal images that soar free from analysis and dissection. She is much more grounded in her rhetoric. Thus, for her, she may have to be creative in her remembrances to capture our hearts. While one can't blame her for trying to elevate herself and her candidacy, there are limits that must be in place. For a moment, Ms. Clinton stepped across that boundary For her sake, she has to hope the public doesn't misremember this at the ballot boxes in the remaining primaries.

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