Oval Office Thunderdome: Duck and Cover

It is difficult to believe that Senator Hillary Clinton had been misspeaking, or misremembering, as she told the story of her experience of coming under sniper fire in Bosnia in 1996. She told the story multiple times. Documentary evidence has since proven the story false in the most public of ways. Instead of running for cover on the tarmac after her plane landed, press video shows her walking, smiling, with her daughter by her side. At one point, a girl handed her flowers.

Her excuses are difficult to believe because being shot at is a singular experience. If one has never been shot at, memory of such an experience does not magically appear. Conversely, if one has been shot at, memory is unlikely to wipe itself clean of the details of the incident. These simple rules could be twisted if exposure to weapons violence nightmarishly becomes a common occurrence for a person, but no one claimed that Senator Clinton has ever been exposed to more than this one, fictitious bout with an assassin’s bullet.

The vast majority of Americans, Clinton included, only experience cursory violence, fistfights and such, and only rarely. Hostile gunfire is rarer still. If it does happen to a person, more than likely, it will never happen again. It’s just not the type of experience that lends itself to misapplication. So Senator Clinton’s attempts to explain away her fantasy are just as disingenuous as the story itself.

Not only is Senator Clinton a liar, but she chose to lie in a very touchy arena. She lied about coming under sniper fire in order to boost her security credentials. She has, essentially, created a war record for herself; fabricated combat experiences for personal gain. Not only are these among the most despicable of lies, those who have been caught telling them have had their professional lives left in ruin.

In 1999, Tim Johnson was fired from his job managing the Toronto Blue Jays baseball club after admitting that he had lied about seeing combat in Vietnam. He had used gruesome war stories as motivational speeches to his team, even going so far as to claim he had shot a child.

Sometimes, professional destruction is only the beginning.

Admiral Jeremy Boorda, the American Chief of Naval Operations, wore the Valor device on two medals among all the fruit salad on his uniform. The device is just a small “V”, but its meaning is significant. It denotes valorous acts during combat. In 1996, a reporter began investigating whether Admiral Boorda was entitled to wear the devices. He was not. Boorda had an incredible naval career. Rising from the enlisted ranks to become a member of the Joint Chiefs, Boorda was at heights no naval enlistee had ever before attained. But wearing those undeserved citations left Boorda ostracized by his peers, his honor gone. On May 16 of that year, he killed himself.

The above story is an indication of how powerful the personal combat narrative is in our culture. As much false glory as we place on the idea of combat, those of us who remain innocent of the experience are drawn just as powerfully to that idea by its mystery. The general rule is that only those who have seen combat can know it, and none of us like being left out. Because of the reverence we hold for those who fight under our flag, or those witnesses who document it, or the innocents who fall victim to our enemies, the combat narrative is as sacred as it is powerful. The next rule is: those that lie about combat do so at their own peril.

Granted, Clinton was not claiming combat experience. But she was claiming she had come under fire in a hostile country. She was marrying her own narrative to the combat narrative, trying for a share of the vast gamut of emotions we as a nation associate with it. Now that she has been caught inflating her own personal history, every bit of damage that may happen to her ambitions is self-inflicted.