In recent years, my memories of Bill Clinton's presidency had been suffused with a golden glow of nostalgia for a booming economy, low unemployment, the "end of welfare as we know it," and, most miraculously of all, federal budget surpluses. Our holiday from history in the 1990s was truly a halcyon time. I had almost forgotten how irritatingly self-righteous and economical with the truth the Clintons could be. Their recent shenanigans in the current campaign is bringing it all back. The most recent installment occurred in the Democratic candidates' debate in South Carolina.
Obama struck back during the debate, but, as the Clintons well know, lies tend to stick even after they are rebutted. The Washington Post's highly useful Fact Checker column parses Hillary Clinton's latest statements.
First, Sen. Clinton (D-N.Y.) claimed that Obama had said that "he really liked the ideas of the Republicans over the last 10-15 years." The Post Fact Checker notes:
Obama did not say that he "really liked the ideas of the Republicans" in his interview with the Reno Gazette-Journal on Jan. 14. Here is the quote:
"I think it is fair to say the Republicans were the party of ideas for a pretty long chunk of time over the last 10, 15 years, in the sense they were challenging conventional wisdom. Now, you've heard it all before. You look at the economic policies when they're being debated among the presidential candidates, and it's all tax cuts. Well, you know, we've done that, we tried it. That's not really going to solve our energy problems."
Then Clinton asserted that Obama had done legal work for a Chicago slumlord. The Post Fact Checker finds:
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Obama received $168,000 in campaign contributions from Rezko and his associates after 1995. Obama has denied doing any legal work directly for Rezko or his companies. During Monday night's debate, he said that he had done "about five hours' worth of work" on a joint real estate development project involving Rezko and a Chicago church group.
William Miceli, Obama's supervisor at the law firm, said the firm represented the Woodlawn Preservation and Investment Corp., a nonprofit group that redeveloped a run-down property on Chicago's South Side with Rezko. He called Clinton's assertion that Obama represented Rezko in a slum landlord business "categorically untrue."
"He was a very junior lawyer at the time, who was given responsibility for basic due diligence, document review," said Miceli, adding that Obama did what he was told by the firm. According to Miceli, that was the only time Obama worked on a Rezko-related project while at the law firm.
I don't think that I'm the only voter who will be turned off by such reminders of earlier Clinton era mendacity.
Disclosure: I don't know for whom I am going to vote yet. I did buy two $25 tickets to Obama's speech in Charlottesville as a present for my wife who tends to vote Democratic. As I reported at Hit & Run, I was underwhelmed. In addition, I predicted in January, 2007 that Obama would be the Democratic Party's presidential nominee. Perhaps I cannot be objective about Sen. Clinton's lack of veracity because I have several very expensive dinners riding on this prediction.
*Headline shamelessly appropriated, remixed and recontextualized from Al Franken.