Donald Trump, with his usual delicacy and tact, calls Hillary Clinton a “liar,” and her own words prove it. She has a habit, to the fear and fury of her campaign, of saying whatever pops into her pretty head, with no thought whether it’s true, sort of true, could be true, or she merely wishes were true. It’s a dangerous habit that can sink a ship, or a presidential campaign.
In the spirit of the season, the Democratic front-runner accused the Republican front-runner of something close to treason, or would be treason if the nation were officially at war. She said a video of Mr. Trump’s remarks about Muslims had become a tool for the Islamic State, or ISIS, to recruit soldiers to the terrorist cause.
Hillary’s accusation has been widely sliced, diced, analyzed and discussed by pundits, activists, academics and no doubt the taxi drivers and beauticians who are said to be the reliable thermometers of public opinion. But it turns out that there is no such video. Hillary just made it up, and even when proved a liar by friendly fact-checkers she has no regrets.
After The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN News checked out the accusation and found no evidence to support her inflammatory factoid, someone asked her spokesman, Brian Fallon, whether Hillary would apologize to Mr. Trump. “Hell, no!” he explained.
The episode is typically Clintonian, but without even the “clintonclause” that Bubba perfected in Arkansas to give himself wiggle room when he delivered convenient shadings of the facts. Hillary, without Bubba’s charm or wit, plows straight ahead, giving even “factoids” — something that sounds like it could be a fact but in fact is not a fact — a bad name.
Her jibe at the Donald was over-the-top even in a raucous presidential campaign. Accusing an opponent of aiding and abetting an enemy of the United States demands persuasive evidence, and even with such evidence a responsible candidate would take great care in using it. In an earlier era, an accuser, someone in the spirit of Joe McCarthy, who made such an accusation, would be held responsible for it. In an even earlier era, someone on the receiving end of such an accusation would send his seconds to deliver a demand for satisfaction, and the accuser would be well advised to practice his (or her) marksmanship or swordplay.
Hillary appears to believe two different things about Islam. On one hand, she, like her former boss, insists there is nothing within even a perversion of the religion to enable radicals to recruit terrorists from the Muslim masses, but on the other hand, she suggests that usually peaceful Muslims would cheerfully sacrifice their lives to avenge the words of Donald Trump, taking innocent men, women and children with them.
Hillary has been spooked by the imagined power of videos before. In the wake of the assault on the American legation in Benghazi, she joined the White House to charge that “the street mob” in Benghazi was so incensed by an obscure video by a little-known Egyptian-American filmmaker that avenging attacks on the legation followed. This was so transparently moonshine that the White House recanted, finally, and put the blame where it belonged, on a premeditated and carefully executed plan of Muslim attack.
Hillary has millions of dollars of campaign boodle to burn, and she ought to spend some of it on fact-checkers of her own. They might spare her embarrassment in the future. Nobody, and particularly a presidential candidate under criminal investigation, can afford to prove herself a liar.