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Archive for March 27th, 2008

This is a disaster for Hillary Clinton.

According to the wiretaps, New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer was delighted to be getting the prostitute “Kristen” again. At least he knew her name. It took Monica Lewinsky’s boyfriend six sexual encounters to remember her name (raising his lifetime average to 8.2).

You know that queasy feeling you get thinking about Bill Clinton back in the White House again? Now you remember why. Hillary Clinton couldn’t feel worse about the Spitzer case if she were an actual New Yorker.

Proving that Karl Marx got everything wrong — more bad news for Hillary — history is indeed repeating itself, but, contra Marx, the first time as farce, the second time as tragedy. Clinton’s scandal was hilarious; Spitzer’s is just depressing.

Most people outside of New York can’t grasp the enormity of Spitzer’s political free fall.

Eliot Spitzer was the golden boy with an absolutely charmed life. His parents were the children of Jewish immigrants, who created a Ralph Lauren lifestyle for their children.

Spitzer’s father made half a billion dollars in New York real estate and raised three high-achieving children — two lawyers and a neurosurgeon. In a family like that, becoming governor of New York makes you the black sheep.

Spitzer went to the best schools — Horace Mann, Princeton and Harvard Law School. He must have written some good papers.

He lives at the perfect address (Fifth Avenue and 79th St.) with his perfect Harvard Law School-educated Southern Baptist wife — whose parents must be telling her they told her so right about now — and their three perfect daughters. (Admittedly, the apartment is a gift from Dad: A mere top-flight education doesn’t get you an apartment overlooking Central Park.)

And now Spitzer’s entire anal-retentive, good paper-writing life has collapsed in the horrifying image of a frenzied masturbator. This is the most complete coup de grace imaginable, short of an assassin’s bullet.

Spitzer’s life is ruined. It doesn’t matter if he has defenders who will wail, “It’s his private life!” It doesn’t matter if he fights the charges. It doesn’t matter if this was a political prosecution. As Talleyrand said: “It’s worse than a crime; it’s a blunder.”

Eliot Spitzer, Harvard Law graduate and Fifth Avenue denizen, is forevermore: “Client No. 9.”

Forget about his career — those around him better have him on suicide watch. Dudley Do-Right is on tape in a white-knuckle negotiation with pimps about payment for a prostitute. (Let’s just be thankful that there’s no anti-Semitic expression for Jews haggling about money.)

No one will ever be able to look him in the eye again. How can Spitzer hold a press conference when reporters won’t stop giggling at him?

Spitzer can’t go to the restaurants he used to frequent. He can’t go to the Whitney Museum near his apartment. He can’t go to track meets at his daughters’ expensive private school. He can’t show his face in public.

The golden boy’s disgrace is deep and subliminal; it can’t be expunged.

One shudders to imagine the sepulchral gloom pervading the Spitzer home this week. At least Hillary would liven the place up with some lamp-throwing.

Whatever Spitzer’s flaws, he was a pristine product of wealth and attainment. And he threw away a star-studded life of accomplishment in a wanton, reckless pursuit of sex with prostitutes.

There’s no prettifying what Spitzer has done. The Web site of the “Emperors Club VIP” whorehouse patronized by Spitzer heroically claims the prostitutes — or “models” — are chosen for their “level of education, family background, intelligence, personality.”

One can almost hear the typical John, heavy-breathing into the phone: “And this one you call ‘Busty Betty’ — does she come from a good family? Parents still together? What church do they attend?”

Surprising no one, police wiretaps indicate that the “models” were semi-literate, could not learn to swipe a credit card and seemed invariably to be on drugs. That’s what you get for $2,000 an hour in this charming business.

After one prostitute missed an appointment and left a “crazy” text message for one of her pimps, the procurer remarks that the girl is on drugs. It seems, the procurer adds, “a lot of these girls deteriorate to this point.”

Behold the “victimless” crime of prostitution. Hard to believe these girls would turn to drugs. Having sex with strangers for money, nothing to live for … just thinking about it makes me want to take drugs.

It’s absurd to talk about Spitzer’s problem being “hypocrisy” — as if everything would be fine if only he had previously advocated legalized prostitution.

It’s absurd to talk about “alpha males” and political power — an alpha male does not bring his family shame and disaster. Who was more alpha than Ronald Reagan? Think he ever had a “whore problem”? This is more like a dog who wee-wees on your leg.

It’s absurd to talk about legal defenses. This guy has fallen from the pinnacle of New York society to being a disgrace to his class. He’s the Ivy League version of Paris Hilton.

That was always the advantage Clinton had: We never expected any better. He went from Skunk Trot, Ark., to Skunk Trot, Ark. Spitzer fell from Fifth Avenue to Skunk Trot, Ark.

Source: Ann Coulter

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(WP) – On March 22, 1999, Hillary Rodham Clinton arrived at the Itihadiya Palace in Egypt for what her schedule said was a “courtesy call with President Mubarak.” Aides blocked out 9 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. Then she embarked on visits to a mosque, museum, clinic, bazaar, youth center, groundwater project, university and the Temple of Luxor.

Almost exactly nine years later to the day, Clinton’s trip to Egypt offers a case study of her foreign policy role during her husband’s presidency. While traveling across North Africa, she devoted little time to heads of state and negotiated no agreements, but instead met community leaders, explored local issues and culture, hit major tourist sites and gave speeches on women’s rights and other topics important to her.

Whether that has made her “tested and ready” to be president from the first day, as she now claims, is a burning issue on the campaign trail. Clinton’s camp has depicted her as a virtual secretary of state, circling the globe to bring peace to troubled lands and open borders for refugees. Sen. Barack Obama’s camp has presented her as a glorified USO officer, entertaining troops and having tea with crown princesses. More than 11,000 pages of her schedules released this week, along with interviews with former diplomats and administration officials, present a more mixed picture.

“Representing the United States around the world is a serious piece of business,” said a former senior State Department official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid alienating friends in both campaigns. “She wasn’t representing the United States as secretary of state, chairman of the Joint Chiefs or U.S. trade representative. But she was representing the United States, and she did have specific assignments.”

Clinton was given the mission of speaking out for women’s rights at a conference in Beijing. She was sent to meet with refugees in forbidding places. She was dispatched to extend friendship to parts of the world where the president did not have time to go. But the former senior official expressed irritation at both sides for mischaracterizing her role. “They made a mistake to exaggerate it,” he said of Clinton’s aides, “and I think it’s a mistake to underappreciate it.”

While Clinton’s advertisements have boasted that she is best prepared for a 3 a.m. crisis phone call, the schedules contain no evidence that Clinton was at the table during major national security decisions. They do not list her as attending National Security Council meetings or joining briefings in the Situation Room. She did not have a national security clearance. And the documents make clear that at moments of major crisis, Clinton was often busy with her own agenda.

What remains uncertain is how she might have influenced events in less visible ways. The schedules do not record whom she called on the telephone, what spontaneous conversations she may have had in the West Wing during the day, or what positions she conveyed through her top aide at daily senior staff meetings. And they certainly do not disclose what she may have advised her husband in the privacy of their living quarters.

“The schedules are just that,” her campaign said in a statement. “They cannot and do not speak to the substance of her meetings with staff, advisers, administration officials, citizens, activists, foreign leaders and others with whom she worked on policy issues. That should be no surprise — it’s not what they were created to do.”

Clinton herself, in citing her experience as first lady as evidence of her preparation for the presidency, has distilled a complicated record into sound bites dissected by critics. She has claimed that she “helped to bring peace to Northern Ireland” and “negotiated open borders to let fleeing refugees into safety from Kosovo.” She described a harrowing flight into war-torn Bosnia and said she advised her husband to intervene to stop the Rwanda genocide.

All of those claims have been called overstated. While she traveled to Northern Ireland and met with its leaders, she was not a direct participant in peace talks. The borders she talked about were opened the day before her visit, although she pressed to keep them that way. She took her daughter, singer Sheryl Crow and comedian Sinbad with her to a USO show in Bosnia on the flight in question. And no one who served in the Clinton administration has publicly recalled that she weighed in on Rwanda.

Some of her husband’s top foreign policy officials, including former national security adviser Anthony Lake and former assistant secretary of state Susan E. Rice, now work for Obama, and the Rwanda claim in particular has infuriated them.

Gregory B. Craig, a friend of Clinton’s from Yale Law School who served as a top State Department official and now also advises Obama, wrote a damning appraisal of her record last week. “There is no reason to believe . . . that she was a key player in foreign policy at any time during the Clinton administration,” he wrote. “She did not do any heavy-lifting with foreign governments. . . . She never managed a foreign policy crisis.”

Yet she lived through those episodes with a vantage point few get. “I would not say she was sitting there planning cruise missile attacks,” said former White House press secretary Michael McCurry, who supports her candidacy. “But you’re there and you see and you understand the requirements of leadership. . . . Having lived through it even as a spouse, you absorb a lot.”

And while it does not equate to brokering deals, her travel through 82 countries certainly exposed her to more of the world and its leaders than did cutting ribbons as a state senator in Chicago. She was considered one of the administration’s top surrogates and she devoted enormous energy to particular interests, such as women’s issues, education, health care and international development.

When she took trips abroad, the first lady’s office checked in with the NSC to see what sorts of messages she could carry, former officials said. She was a quick study. “What you need . . . is the nuance about the politics of the situation, what is the psychology of the people you’re going to meet and that sort of thing,” said former deputy national security adviser Mara E. Rudman, who advises her now.

The Northern Ireland episode captures the complexity. Several major players have said she was hardly instrumental in forging peace in 1998. But James B. Steinberg, then deputy national security adviser, said she was part of multifaceted strategy that included reaching out to women’s leaders in Northern Ireland to help end the decades-old conflict. “She wasn’t the only one,” he said. “But I think her role and the obvious personal stake . . . were significant. You can’t parse out each contribution.”

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HILLARY: SWIFTBOATED!

Hillary is being “swiftboated”!

She claimed that she came under sniper fire when she visited in Bosnia in 1996, but was contradicted by videotape showing her sauntering off the plane and stopping on the tarmac to listen to a little girl read her a poem.

Similarly, John Kerry’s claim to heroism in Vietnam was contradicted by 264 Swift Boat Veterans who served with him. His claim to having been on a secret mission to Cambodia for President Nixon on Christmas 1968 was contradicted not only by all of his commanders — who said he would have been court-martialed if he had gone anywhere near Cambodia — but also the simple fact that Nixon wasn’t president on Christmas 1968.

In Hillary’s defense, she probably deserves a Purple Heart about as much as Kerry did for his service in Vietnam.

Also, unlike Kerry, Hillary acknowledged her error, telling the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: “I was sleep-deprived, and I misspoke.” (What if she’s sleep-deprived when she gets that call on the red phone at 3 a.m., imagines a Russian nuclear attack and responds with mutual assured destruction? Oops. “It proves I’m human.”)

The reason no one claims Hillary is being “swiftboated” is that the definition of “swiftboating” is: “producing irrefutable evidence that a Democrat is lying.” And for purposes of her race against matinee idol B. Hussein Obama, Hillary has become the media’s honorary Republican.

In liberal-speak, only a Democrat can be swiftboated. Democrats are “swiftboated”; Republicans are “guilty.” So as an honorary Republican, Hillary isn’t being swiftboated; she’s just lying.

Indeed, instead of attacking the people who produced a video of Hillary’s uneventful landing in Bosnia, the mainstream media are the people who discovered that video.

I’ve always wondered how a Democrat would fare being treated like a Republican by the media. Now we know.

It’s such fun watching liberals turn on the Clintons! The bitter infighting among Democrats is especially enjoyable after having to listen to Democrats hyperventilate for months about how delighted they were to have so many wonderful choices for president.

Now liberals just want to be rid of the Clintons — which is as close to actual mainstream thinking as they’ve been in years. So the media suddenly notice when Hillary “misspeaks,” while rushing to make absurd excuses for much greater outrages by her opponent.

Liberals are even using the Slick Willy defense when Obama is caught fraternizing with a racist loon. When Bill Clinton was exposed as a philandering, adulterous, pathological liar, his defenders said that everybody is a philandering, adulterous, pathological liar.

And now, when B. Hussein Obama is caught in a 20-year relationship with a raving racist, his defenders scream that everybody is a racist wack-job.

In the Obama speech on race that Chris Matthews deemed “worthy of Abraham Lincoln,” B. Hussein Obama defended Wright’s anti-American statements, saying:

“For the men and women of Rev. Wright’s generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or around the kitchen table.”

So in the speech the media are telling us is on a par with the Gettysburg Address, B. Hussein Obama casually informed us that even blacks who seem to like white people actually hate our guts.

First of all: Watch out the next time you get your hair cut by a black barber over the age of 50.

Second, Rev. Wright’s world wasn’t segregated.

And third, what about Wright’s wanton anti-Semitism? All the liberals (including essence-besplattered Chris Matthews) have accepted Obama’s defense of Wright and want us to understand Wright’s “legitimate” rage over his painful youth in segregated America.

But the anti-Semitic tone of Wright’s sermons is as clear as his rage against the United States. Rev. Wright calls Israel a “dirty word” and a “racist country.” He denounces Zionism and calls for divestment from Israel.

In addition to videos of Rev. Wright’s sermons, Obama’s church also offers for sale sermons by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, whom Rev. Wright joined on a visit to Moammar Gadhafi in Libya in 1984. Just last year, Obama’s church awarded Farrakhan the Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. Trumpeter Award, saying Farrakhan “truly epitomized greatness.”

What, pray tell, is the legitimate source of Wright’s anti-Semitism? I believe Brother Obama passed over that issue entirely in his “conversation,” even as he made the obligatory bow to Israel’s status as one of our “stalwart allies.” Why does crazy “uncle” Wright dislike Jews?

Will liberals contend that these remarks were “taken out of context”? Maybe Wright’s church was trying to say that Farrakhan isn’t great when it said he “epitomized greatness.” Who knows? We weren’t there.

Can liberals please educate us on the “legitimate” impulses behind Rev. Wright’s Jew-baiting?

Source: Ann Coulter

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(TFB) – “Match those words with actions,” is Hillary Clinton’s challenge late today to Barack Obama. She is pressing him to say yes to new primaries in Michigan and Florida.

“Senator Obama speaks passionately on the campaign trail about empowering the American people. Today I am asking him to match those words with actions.”

Michigan and Florida delegates are , as of now, not going to be seated at the Democratic convention this summer in Denver because both states broke party rules by holding their primaries earlier than they were supposed to.

Clinton won both states, though Obama’s name was not on the ballot in Michigan and neither candidate campaigned in Florida.

Obama hasn’t said yes or no

No declaration as yet from Sen. Obama whether he is or isn’t in favor of having new contests in both states.

Clinton wants to have either the results from the primaries stand and the delegates seated, or a new contest where she figures to narrow the pledged delegate gap between herself and Obama.

Political hardball

Is what we are seeing now big time. When Clinton says, as she did today, that “the road to a Democratic White House goes through Michigan and Florida,” she is pretty much right on target.

Besides pledged delegates, a re-win in both states would help convince wavering superdelegates to support Clinton over Obama.

Risky for Obama

Both states could be political quicksand for Obama.

Should Obama lose a rematch in either or both states, even if he has more pledged delegates, Clinton could mount a convincing argument that she ought to be the party’s nominee.

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Now that Hillary Clinton‘s schedule as first lady has been released, her near-total lack of serious involvement in the real inner workings of the government is bluntly apparent.

There are few, if any, meetings with Cabinet members, congressional leaders, the National Security Council, the National Economic Council, leaders of the Irish peace process, player s in the Bosnian crisis or representatives from Rwanda. All of her so-called experience is absent from her daily schedule. What’s there, for us all to see, is one soft event after another, a schedule far more typical of such first ladies as Mamie Eisenhower or Lady Bird Johnson than of a future presidential candidate.

This near-total paucity of participation in policy-making dovetails with our recollection of her White House role. In 1995 and 1996, she largely toured the country, speaking at ceremonial events, wrote a book (“It Takes A Village”) and toured the world. During her international travels, there was no serious diplomacy, just a virtually endless round of meetings with women, visiting arts-and-crafts centers, watching native industries and photo opportunities for the local media.

President Bill Clinton’s memoirs reflect this absence of substance. The book contains only a handful of mentions of his wife that aren’t related to their joint travel, her health-care-reform program or her ceremonial duties. The Hil- lary she now claims to be was nowhere evident.

Hillary Clinton was deeply involved in the White House’s inner wo rkings only from the time of Bill’s election through the Democratic defeat in the congressional elections of 1994. She played a key role in choosing the Cabinet and staff, in crafting the health-care-reform legislation and in relations with the Democratic Congress.

But Bill Clinton saw his loss of Congress as owing to Hillary’s policies and ideas. He felt that his presidency had been captured by a liberal phalanx that included the first lady and such staffers as George Stephanopoulos and Harold Ickes. He realized the need to move to the center and exiled Hillary from the White House, asking her to mix the largely ceremonial duties of her “job” with writing, speaking and policy advocacy. Her key role in the White House was a thing of the past – and remained so through all of 1995, 1996 and 1997.

Only in January 1998 did Hillary come back to real power – in order to lead the defense to the Monica Lewinsky scandal and prevent Bill’s impeachment. Of course, after April 1999, she was consumed with her New York Senate race.

So Hillary’s experience, real enough in 1993-94, led to a total disaster, the first loss of the House for the Democrats in 40 years. Her experience in 1998-99 was focused almost exclusively on defending against impeachment, hardly relevant for the future. But her schedule shows the vacuity of her experience in the years in between – the key years of the Clinton presidency – when the budget was balanced, the economy turned around, welfare reformed, Bosnia transformed and Kosovo freed.

By Dick Morris

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“I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.”

–Hillary Clinton, speech at George Washington University, March 17, 2008.

By Michael Dobbs

Hillary Clinton has been regaling supporters on the campaign trail with hair-raising tales of a trip she made to Bosnia in March 1996. In her retelling, she was sent to places that her husband, President Clinton, could not go because they were “too dangerous.” When her account was challenged by one of her traveling companions, the comedian Sinbad, she upped the ante and injected even more drama into the story. In a speech earlier this week, she talked about “landing under sniper fire” and running for safety with “our heads down.”

There are numerous problems with Clinton’s version of events.

The Facts

As a reporter who visited Bosnia soon after the December 1995 Dayton Peace agreement, I can attest that the physical risks were minimal during this period, particularly at a heavily fortified U.S. Air Force base, such as Tuzla. Contrary to the claims of Hillary Clinton and former Army secretary Togo West, Bosnia was not “too dangerous” a place for President Clinton to visit in early 1996. In fact, the first Clinton to visit the Tuzla Air Force base was not Hillary, but Bill, on January 13, 1996.

Had Hillary Clinton’s plane come “under sniper fire” in March 1996, we would certainly have heard about it long before now. Numerous reporters, including the Washington Post’s John Pomfret, covered her trip. A review of nearly 100 news accounts of her visit shows that not a single newspaper or television station reported any security threat to the First Lady. “As a former AP wire service hack, I can safely say that it would have been in my lead had anything like that happened,” said Pomfret.

According to Pomfret, the Tuzla airport was “one of the safest places in Bosnia” in March 1996, and “firmly under the control of Big Red One,” the 1st Infantry Division.

Far from running to an airport building with their heads down, Clinton and her party were greeted on the tarmac by smiling U.S. and Bosnian officials. An eight-year-old Moslem girl, Emina Bicakcic, read a poem in English. An Associated Press photograph of the greeting ceremony, above, shows a smiling Clinton bending down to receive a kiss.

“There is peace now,” Emina told Clinton, according to Pomfret’s report in the Washington Post the following day, “because Mr. Clinton signed it. All this peace. I love it.”

The First Lady’s schedule, released on Wednesday and available here, confirms that she arrived in Tuzla at 8.45 a.m. and was greeted by various dignitaries, including Emina Bicakcic, (whose name has mysteriously been redacted from the document.)

You can see CBS News footage of the arrival ceremony here. The footage shows Clinton walking calmly out of the back of the C-17 military transport plane that brought her from Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany.

Among the U.S. officials on hand to greet Clinton at the airport was Maj. Gen. William Nash, the commander of U.S. troops in Bosnia. Nash told me that he was unaware of any security threat to Clinton during her eight-hour stay in Tuzla. He said, however, that Clinton had a “busy schedule” and may have got the impression that she was being hurried on her way.

According to Sinbad, who provided entertainment on the trip along with the singer Sheryl Crow, the “scariest” part was deciding where to eat. As he told Mary Ann Akers of The Post, “I think the only ‘red-phone’ moment was: ‘Do we eat here or at the next place.'” Sinbad questioned the premise behind the Clinton version of events. “What kind of president would say ‘Hey man, I can’t go ’cause I might get shot so I’m going to send my wife. Oh, and take a guitar player and a comedian with you.”

Replying to Sinbad earlier this week, Clinton dismissed him as “a comedian.” Her campaign referred me to Togo West, who was also on the trip and is a staunch Hillary supporter. West could not remember “sniper fire” himself, but said there was no reason to doubt the First Lady’s version of events. “Everybody’s perceptions are different,” he told me.

Clinton made no mention of “sniper fire” in her autobiography “Living History,” published in 2003, although she did say there were “reports of snipers” in the hills around the airport.

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“There is no doubt that I played a major role in many of the foreign policy decisions.”
–Hillary Clinton, interview with NPR, March 13, 2008.

 

By Michael Dobbs

balkan.jpg

Visiting refugee camp in Macedonia, May 1999.

(WP) – Hillary Clinton has cited her experiences as First Lady as preparation for those 3 a.m. phone calls that she expects to receive as commander-in-chief. It is true that she traveled to some eighty foreign countries, including troublespots like Northern Ireland, the Balkans, and Rwanda. But did she play a “major role” in the foreign policy decision-making of the Clinton administration, as she has been claiming on the campaign trail?

The Obama campaign has accused the New York senator of “gross overstatements.” The Clinton camp has responded with “fact sheets” defending her record on northern Ireland and Kosovo.

Let’s try to sort it all out.

The Facts

I dealt with Clinton’s claim to have been “intimately involved” in the northern Ireland peace process a few weeks ago in this posting. The former northern Ireland peace negotiator, George Mitchell, told me that Clinton was “not involved directly” in the diplomatic negotiations that led to the landmark April 1998 Good Friday agreement on power-sharing. On the other hand, Mitchell credited Clinton with taking an intelligent interest in the issues and getting acquainted with many of the key players.

A former northern Ireland chief minister, David Trimble, described Clinton as a “cheerleader” for the peace process rather than a “principal player.” I think that is accurate. During her six trips to northern Ireland as First Lady, Clinton gave speeches and met with women from both sides of the ethnic divide. Her time in northern Ireland certainly gave her first-hand insights into the complexity of ethnic disputes that will come in useful if she is elected president, but she was hardly a “major” player in the peace process.

The issue of Macedonia and Kosovo is slightly more complicated. During a televised debate in January, Clinton claimed that she had “negotiated” with the Macedonian government to persuade it to re-open its border with Kosovo during the NAT0 air war against Yugoslavia in May 1999. The Macedonian had effectively sealed off the border at the beginning of May to curb a massive influx of Albanian refugees who were being driven out of Kosovo by Serb militiamen.

A detailed look at the chronology shows that Clinton misspoke when she talked about getting the Macedonian authorities to “open their border again.” Contemporary news accounts show that the border was re-opened on May 13, the day before Clinton arrived in Macedonia, but only a handful of refugees crossed over. As news spread of the border re-opening following Clinton’s visit, thousands more refugees crossed over into Macedonia

In her most recent remarks on the subject, to NPR, Clinton backed away from the border “negotiation” claim. Instead she said that she had met with Macedonian leaders and “helped to persuade them – there were other factors at work – that it would be in their interest and it would be the right thing to do to let more refugees in.” This is a more accurate statement of what took place. During her one-day trip to Macedonia on May 14, Clinton toured a refugee camp and held discussions with Macedonian leaders, at which she encouraged them to maintain an open-door policy toward Albanian refugees. Other governments, notably the European Union, were exerting similar pressure on the Macedonians.

Clinton‘s former chief of staff, Melanne Verveer, told me that the Clinton party flew into the Macedonian capital Skoplje from Naples aboard a military C-130. For security reasons, they had to be back in Naples by sundown. Verveer sat in on the talks with Macedonian president Kiro Gligorov. She says Clinton pressed Gligorov “to keep the borders open” and brought along a “package of economic assistance” for Macedonia. Verveer described Clinton’s role in foreign affairs as “unprecedented” for a First Lady, particularly on human rights issues.

I also spoke to the former Macedonian ambassador to the United States, Ljubica Acevska, who encouraged Clinton to visit the refugee camps. Acevska recalled “a very, very chaotic” situation on the border with Kosovo. She said the border had been “closed temporarily” because of the chaos, but “reopened” shortly before Clinton’s arrival in Macedonia on May 14. “Once we got the refugee situation under control, the border was re-opened,” she told me.

Acevska said that Clinton’s offer of economic assistance “encouraged” the Macedonian government to keep the border open.

As is often the case, this dispute boils down to a question of semantics. Hillary Clinton certainly did play a “role” in U.S. foreign policy during the 90s that went somewhat beyond the role traditionally assumed by First Ladies. She can fairly claim to have picked up a lot of knowledge about the world that will help to inform her decisions as president. On the other hand, she was hardly a “major” player in the foreign policy of her husband’s administration. In contrast to the health care issue, her influence on foreign policy was largely peripheral.

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