A Candidate You Can Trust (to Lie)

A Candidate You Can Trust (to Lie)
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Hillary Clinton’s greatest strength—her experience—is also her greatest weakness. Having spent the last four decades in politics, she has prodigious experience in the worst profession that isn’t outlawed—that of lying to people for the purpose of ruling them.

“Public service,” she calls it.

First as an attorney and then as a politician, Clinton has been lying professionally since the disco era. Even before her first election to the Senate, the late William Safire called her “a congenital liar” and “a habitual prevaricator.” These designations can now be scientifically verified.

Recently, Clinton maintained that FBI Director James Comey found her statements regarding her email server to be “truthful”—a claim that The Washington Post’s fact-checker Glenn Kessler gave “Four Pinocchios,” enough to make it a “whopper.”

More astounding: Asked in February if she has ever lied, Clinton said, “I don’t believe I ever have. I don’t believe I ever will.”

It’s possible she really believes this. After all, this is the same woman who once said, “My husband may have his faults, but he has never lied to me.” This is the same husband who, after cheating on his wife with Monica Lewinsky, proclaimed on national television, “I misled people, including even my wife.” Misled her, yes, but never lied to her.

Like her husband, Clinton doesn’t lie. Rather, she “misspeaks.” On several occasions she claimed that as the first lady she encountered sniper fire in Bosnia. When this turned out to be false, Clinton backtracked, saying she “misspoke.”

She has a knack for public misspeaking. When she announced that she and her husband were “dead broke” in 2001, she actually meant “alive and filthy rich.” Her bad.

Clinton is a poor liar because she’s an obvious one. She’s like a bald man with a comb-over. Covering up the obvious only makes the obvious more conspicuous.

To be fair, Clinton doesn’t always lie. In 1999, she wrote in a newspaper column that her husband became president “six years ago”—i.e., in 1993. That was totally accurate.

Most of the time, she evades the truth, even when it’s obvious. In her 656-page book “Hard Choices,” the only interesting sentence concerns the “question” of whether she would run for president in 2016. “I haven’t decided yet,” she wrote. As Frank Rich put it, “no one in her right mind would write a fat book this dull, this unrevealing, and this innocuous unless she were running for president.”

Running for president and telling the truth are mutually exclusive. “Whenever a man has cast a longing eye on offices,” Thomas Jefferson observed, “a rottenness begins in his conduct.” Clinton, who is not a man, has been eyeing the presidency since the 1990s and calibrating her positions accordingly.

Thanks to her efforts, she has her party’s nomination and her country’s distrust. According to a recent CNN poll, 66 percent of voters find her dishonest and untrustworthy. About as many people find her trustworthy as find Bigfoot plausible.

Clinton knows she has trust issues. “You can’t just talk someone into trusting you,” she said in June. “You’ve got to earn it.”

The way to earn people’s trust is by proving yourself trustworthy. That takes time, which Clinton doesn’t have.

What should she do? Simple: Clinton should be honest about her dishonesty.

Here’s what she should say:

“People accuse me of dishonesty, and the people, God bless them (and America), are right. That’s my job as a politician. I represent the voters, and the only way to do that is by pretending to share their values.

“Some call this lying. I call it evolution by natural selection. If I don’t adapt to the latest Gallup data, I die politically, which is worse than being assassinated by one of Donald Trump’s goons.

“Yes, I lie. But I lie for the right reasons—for the public good and for my own. I was against gay marriage when everybody hated it. Now that it’s popular, I’m for it. As long as the voters keep changing their minds, so will I. As president, I will speak their minds and misspeak my own.”

Vote for Hillary. She’s a liar you can trust.

Windsor Mann is the editor of "The Quotable Hitchens: From Alcohol to Zionism." Harass him on Twitter at @WindsorMann.

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