Hillary Clinton said she made a “misstatement” when she claimed in a recent speech that she landed under sniper fire on a 1996 trip to Bosnia as first lady. Journalists who had covered the trip had described Clinton’s description as false, as had the comedian Sinbad, who made the trip with Clinton. Clinton dismissed the remark as a “minor blip,” and pointed out that she had described the event correctly in her memoir. (Philadelphia Daily News)
What the commentators said
Clinton’s “fib” was bad enough, said Bill Barol in The Huffington Post, but her real mistake was “stonily” sticking to her story until the YouTube video surfaced showing her chatting with a girl on the Tarmac instead of dodging bullets. “What does it say about the character of the candidate that she felt a need to puff up her tough-guy credentials, which are wholly separate from her foreign-policy credentials, and that she couldn't back off the story even when it was pretty decisively discredited?”
“The backpedaling was a rare instance of Mrs. Clinton’s acknowledging an error,” said Patrick Healy and Katharine Q. Seelye in The New York Times (free registration), “and she did so on a sensitive issue.” Her experience and “ability to handle a crisis”—trumpeted in her “red phone” campaign commercial—were supposed to give her an advantage over Barack Obama. No wonder her campaign advisers are hoping the criticism over this will fade fast.
Clinton’s “tendency to stretch reality” is hard to deny now, said the independent investigative blog Consortium News, but she’s still “arguably within the flexible standards set by the Bush administration.” But the damage from the phantom snipers will be limited by Republican John McCain’s “own problems with the truth,” and Obama’s “hypocrisy,” as demonstrated by his dubious praise for Ronald Reagan.