Hillary Clinton’s Lying: Does It Depends On What The Meaning Of The Word “Is” Is?

Robert Chernin Chairman, American Center of Education and Knowledge
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Here we go again.  Having lived through eight years of Bill and Hillary Clinton in the White House from 1992 to 2000, the recent parsing of words by Mrs. Clinton with regards to telling the truth about her email scandal has an all too familiar ring to it.  Most of us are old enough to remember Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky and the very public denial he gave when he looked directly into the camera and said “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky”.  The point is not to rehash whether he did or did not have sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky (He clearly did!).  And we certainly don’t want to have to debate yet again whether certain types of intimate sexual contact does or does not in fact constitute sexual relations.  The real point is that how both Bill and Hillary Clinton handled this most public of scandals back in the 1990’s explains a great deal about Mrs. Clinton’s seemingly never ending problem with telling the unvarnished truth as she campaigns to be elected our nation’s next President on November 8th.

The Lewinsky Scandal, as it was called back in the day, is perhaps the quintessential example of how the Clintons’ treat the truth in general. Truth is not a code to be honored.  It is not a bond with the American people to be nurtured and protected.  To the Clintons, truth seems to be more of a tool to be used or at times a trap to avoid.  Use it when necessary, but only with the precision of a scalpel.  When it comes to the truth, the Clintons are experts at parsing the English language like a veteran contortionist.  And the news media and journalists for whatever reason has been a willing accomplice, refusing to ask the hard questions to get to a clear and truthful answer.  As proof of their complicity, is there any other candidate who has ever run for President that has been allowed to avoid holding an open, no holds barred press conference for 8 months??

After the relationship with Monica Lewinsky was exposed to the public, then-President Clinton was questioned by a Grand Jury as to whether he had an improper relationship with her.  In his testimony under oath to the Grand Jury, Bill Clinton famously and with precision parsed the words “is” and “was”.  There IS no relationship with Ms. Lewinsky, he told the Grand Jury.  From Bill Clinton’s perspective, the word “is” means present tense, according to an interview he gave to Charlie Rose after his Grand Jury testimony.  While there may have been an inappropriate relationship in the past, no one asked if there “was” an improper relationship.  Since no one asked President Clinton using more precise words, his testimony was deemed to be truthful, at least by the Clintons and their supporters. 

This is just one in a long line of examples that clearly shows the problems the Clintons’ have with telling the truth.  On some level, who would blame them?  Up until now they have never really been held accountable for any fabrication or tortuous parsing of the truth.  It kind of makes sense that they would continue to do so.  For instance, during the 2008 campaign, Mrs. Clinton claimed that she came under sniper fire when she landed in Bosnia during a trip as First Lady in the 1990’s.  The only problem is that a video surfaced showing a cordial and ceremonial reception on the very tarmac she claims was under fire.  Ms. Clinton has also variously claimed she tried to join the marines in the 70’s, that her grandparents were all immigrants and that she was named after the famed climber, Sir Edmund Hillary.  All of which have shown to be patently false and knowingly so at the time she made the claims. 

The list of fabrications, denials and painful parsing of the English language by both President and Mrs. Clinton to control the narrative and maintain “plausible deniability” seems endless.  It plays like a bad Marx Brothers movie (“who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?”).  It might be entertaining if the consequences weren’t so dire.  Whether it is telling different stories to different parties, as she did about what really happened in the Benghazi terrorist attack on our embassy, or it is just a flat out falsehood as when Mrs. Clinton very publicly claimed she never received nor sent any material that was marked “classified” on her private email server, the pattern, techniques and rationale used by Mrs. Clinton to evade the truth remains the same as it was back in the 1990’s

This also explains why Mrs. Clinton could look Fox’s Chris Wallace directly in the face during her interview and claim that James Comey, the Director of the FBI, said she told the truth.  To his credit, Mr. Wallace did try to clarify his question and distinguish between what she is supposed to have told the FBI and statements she has made to the American public.  Here again Mrs. Clinton chose to interpret the question narrowly, only focusing on her interview with the FBI, and repeating her answer that she told the truth.

What I really remember most from the Clinton Years, from 1992 – 2000, was the seemingly endless number of controversies surrounding the Clintons.  There was Whitewater, Travel-gate, the suspicious death of Vince Foster, the Lewinsky scandal, the selling of the Lincoln bedroom, the fundraiser at the Buddhist Temple and John Huang, just to name a few.  The scandals and controversies never seemed to end.  Of course for those die hard Clinton supporters, their response in one form or another has always been that this is just part of the “vast right wing conspiracy”.  For the rest of us, however, it was just a feeling of exhaustion.  It was a feeling of never ending drama and fatigue.  It was Clinton Fatigue. 

Sixteen years later, nothing has changed except now I suspect most of the country has an early onset of Clinton Fatigue, and that is before the possibility of having to endure another eight more years of the Bill and Hillary show.  For my part, if by some miracle Mrs. Clinton actually does become our nation’s 45th President, I intend to stock up on the popcorn.  This is one time the sequel will undoubtedly be more action packed then the original, albeit not in a way that will be healthy for the country.  Oh, and if anyone stills believes that the billing records for the Rose Law Firm were accidentally misplaced under the Clinton’s bed in the WH for all those years, only to be discovered days after the statute of limitations had run out, there is a bridge in Brooklyn I want to sell you.