Eric Zorn Exposes Clinton Lies

Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn also argues that The Clintons are Lying About Obama’s Remarks on Reagan. Don’t miss his quiz at the end.

(Barack) Obama stopped just short of calling (Hillary) Clinton and her husband liars… from the Swamp’s live blog of last night’s Democratic debate.

Hillary Clinton, Jan 18: Hmm. I see no reason to stop short. Bill and Hillary Clinton have lied brazenly about Obama’s recent statement about Ronald Reagan.

Let’s look at the transcripts (emphasis added):

Hillary Clinton, Jan 18:

My leading opponent the other day said that he thought the Republicans had better ideas than Democrats the last 10 to 15 years.

Bill Clinton, Jan 18:

(My wife’s) principal opponent said that since 1992, the Republicans have had all the good ideas….I’m not making this up, folks.

Well, yes he is. The key, inflammatory words in the Clintons’ quotes are better and good, and I invite you, reader, to find it in these transcripts of what Obama has actually said:

I don’t want to present myself as some sort of singular figure. I think part of what’s different are the times. I do think that for example the 1980’s were different.

I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it.

I think they felt like with all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s and government had grown and grown but there wasn’t much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think people, he just tapped into what people were already feeling, which was we want clarity we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.

I think Kennedy, twenty years earlier, moved the country in a fundamentally different direction. So I think a lot of it just has to do with the times.

I think we’re in one of those times right now. Where people feel like things as they are going aren’t working. We’re bogged down in the same arguments that we’ve been having, and they’re not useful.

And, you know, the Republican approach, I think, has played itself out.

I think it’s fair to say the Republicans were the party of ideas for a pretty long chunk of time there over the last ten, fifteen years, in the sense that they were challenging conventional wisdom.

Read it all again if you want, you won’t find “better” or “good” in there, or synonyms or implications along those lines.

When the Clintons used “better” and “good” in alluding the Obama’s remarks, they weren’t paraphrasing, they weren’t misremembering, they weren’t distorting. They were simply lying.

Obama’s observations — self-serving as they certainly were — focused on the ability of a leader with overarching vision and good communication skills to lead and inspire the country; the importance of “ideas” as opposed to 10-point programs for presidents who want to bring about real change.

Reagan frustrates and angers many on the left to this day because all these years later we still can’t believe that an amiable, genial movie actor was able to sell his version of reality to a majority of the American public. The Clintons seem to be hoping they can tap into that lingering anger and frustration by lying about Obama’s views on Reagan.

Can they not help themselves? Do they not know that not to understand Reagan, not to learn from him and not to emulate him in some ways is a path to political defeat?

In conclusion, let me ask you to take my little quiz, which I’ve put together with the help of archival quotes supplied by the Obama campaign. Which of the four statements below is Obama’s, and which are the Clintons’?

1. [Reagan was] a child of the Depression, so he understood [economic pressures on the working and middle class]. When he had those big tax cuts and they went too far, he oversaw the largest tax increase. He could call the Soviet Union the Evil Empire and then negotiate arms-control agreements. He played the balance and the music beautifully.

2 When I think about great presidents, I think about those who transform how we think about ourselves as a country in fundamental ways…And, you know, there are circumstances in which, I would argue, Ronald Reagan was a very successful president, even though I did not agree with him on many issues, partly because at the end of his presidency, people, I think, said, “You know what? We can regain our greatness. Individual responsibility and personal responsibility are important.” And they transformed the culture and not simply promoted one or two particular issues.

3. [I feel Reagan’s] unflagging optimism, his proud patriotism, his unabashed faith in the American people…. I am confident that we will again make the right choices for America, that we will take up where President Reagan left off — to lead freedom’s march boldly into the 21st century.

4. The Democratic presidential candidate who has tried to differentiate [herself/himself] by tacking to the center on some key issues, said yesterday that former president Ronald Reagan’s defense buildup had hastened the collapse of Soviet communism. Breaking with the widespread position of liberals that Reagan’s military program had little to do with the Soviet system’s collapse, the candidate also praised Reagan’s “rhetoric in defense of freedom” and his role in “advancing the idea that communism could be rolled back.” {The candidate} was careful to add that the Reagan military program included “a lot of wasted money and unnecessary expenditure.” Still, {the candidate} said, Reagan deserved credit for “the idea that he wanted to stand up to {Communism}”


1. Hillary Clinton, quoted in Tom Brokaw’s book “Boom,” page 404.

2. Barack Obama on “Meet the Press” in October of 2006

3. Bill Clinton Dedication of Reagan Library, 5/5/98]

4. Bill Clinton as paraphrased by the Washington Post on 10/17/91 Washington Post

Jake Tapper of ABC news blogs on the above: What’s factually not accurate is what President Bill Clinton said. I know he wants his wife to beat Obama. And it seems that unleashing the Big Dog seems to be working for the Clinton campaign. Perhaps some voters are even touched by his passion. But let’s be clear — Bill Clinton is spreading demonstrably false information. There’s winning ugly, and there’s winning with honor.

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1 Comment

  1. 1
    Nigel A says:

    Great post. When I watched the debate, I was surprised and impressed at Clinton’s amazing command of policy details. But when she just brazenly lied — not once but again and again — it floored me. Mind you, I’m an Obama supporter, so that part, at least, shouldn’t have been as shocking as it was. But to see it with my own eyes … well, let me just say that I never understood until that moment why some Dems would ever consider staying home in November if she got the nomination. Now I do. Character does matter.

    BTW, some hope from the debate. This PR professional:
    believes that Obama decided to sacrifice the debate to lay a trap for Clinton — and she bit. Very thought-provoking.

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