Earlier this year, movie mogul David Geffen said of Bill and Hillary Clinton, "Everyone in politics lies, but they do it with such ease, it's troubling."
As a former strong supporter of the Clintons, Mr. Geffen should know. In case any of the rest of us had doubts about the Clintons' ability to instantly spin an answer for no good reason other than to stay in practice, all doubt should have been removed during last week's CNN/YouTube Democratic debate.
When the candidates were asked by a YouTube questioner if their kids went to public or private schools, Hillary actually managed to make a few people feel sorry for the media with her tale of woe as to why daughter Chelsea went to the ultra-expensive, ultra-exclusive Sidwell Friends School instead of a trouble-plagued District of Columbia public school. "I was advised, and it was, unfortunately, good advice, that if she were to go to a public school, the press would never leave her alone because it's a public school. So I had to make a very difficult decision."
To Mr. Geffen's point, that laughable answer was delivered with ease, conviction and a bit of body language that dared anyone to challenge its veracity. Even though just maligned by the senator from New York, few in the "Hillary for President" press corps seemed inclined to take her to task for an obvious misrepresentation. Since when can the press barge into public or private schools?
If the press does decide to do some leg work on this case, they need undertake nothing more than to ring up George Stephanopoulos over at ABC News. As reported elsewhere, back in 1993, when George was at the White House handling press for President Clinton, he stated, at the direction of the Clintons, that they had chosen the Sidwell Friends school for Chelsea because, "It's an academically challenging school... one of the things that was particularly attractive to the family was that Sidwell has a service component that goes along with their academic requirements."
Gee, no word back then about the big, bad media preparing to harass poor little Chelsea. Is it possible that this story evolved over time, as thoughts of a presidential run fermented in the fertile Clinton minds?
For most of my youth, I attended failing, often dangerous, inner-city public schools populated by teachers who hid in the lounge and let the few serious students fend for themselves. On a couple of occasions, upon our family getting evicted and my father's unrivaled ability to scam, I ended up in private schools. Once the checks started to bounce, I was asked to leave. But while there, it was obvious to even me that if one wanted a safe, enrichening environment in which to learn, then private schools (aside from rich, snobbish students), had it all over poor inner-city public schools.
But alas, while I can state the obvious, Hillary Clinton just can't admit what everyone else already knows. That in this particular case, she and President Clinton were just trying to be good and responsible parents by sending their only child to a school which would give her the best chance at succeeding in life.
Instead of just saying, "We did not want to send Chelsea to a failing inner-city school run by unaccountable teachers," she chose to spin and open herself up to more ridicule and inspection.
The good senator from New York has a habit of being too clever by half. It may yet come back to haunt her.
Douglas MacKinnon is a former White House and Pentagon official and author of the novel, "America's Last Days."