Washington Post Fact Checks Hillary Clinton's Claim That She Tried to Join the Marines

We know she probably lied, but what was point was she trying to make at the time?

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Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State and former First Lady, never served in uniform.

Not an issue, in and of itself, but she has claimed that she attempted to join the United States Marine Corps but was turned down due to her age and eyesight.

The issue ended up being fact checked by the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler:

Clinton first told this story while addressing a lunch on Capitol Hill honoring military women, about 17 months after becoming first lady:

“You’re too old, you can’t see and you’re a woman,” Mrs. Clinton said she was told. “Maybe the dogs would take you,” she recalled the recruiter saying. (Actually the military slang is “dogfaces.”)

“It was not a very encouraging conversation,” she said. “I decided maybe I’ll look for another way to serve my country.”

It’s fair to say The New York Times account, written by then-reporter Maureen Dowd, was highly skeptical. Dowd noted:

  • “At the time, Hillary Rodham was an up-and-coming legal star involved with an up-and-coming political star.”
  • “She had made a celebrated appearance in Life magazine as an anti-establishment commencement speaker at Wellesley College, where, as president of the student government, she had organized teach-ins on her opposition to the Vietnam War.”
  • “She was a Yale law school graduate who had worked on the anti-war Presidential campaigns of Eugene J. McCarthy and George McGovern.”
  • “Mrs. Clinton told friends that she had moved to Arkansas for only one reason: to be with Bill Clinton.”
  • The Clintons married on Oct. 11, 1975, in Fayetteville.

Dowd asked: “So, if she was talking to a Marine recruiter in 1975 before the marriage, was she briefly considering joining the few, the proud and the brave of the corps as an alternative to life with Mr. Clinton, who was already being widely touted as a sure thing for Arkansas Attorney General?”

Clinton’s spokesman at the time, Neal Lattimore, speculated (without any apparent evidence) that perhaps the law school graduate was thinking of joining the Judge Advocate General’s Corps.

It’s a pretty long piece, but worth the read.  The “long story short” version is that this doesn’t really pass the sniff test.  While some people from the time recall the discussions, the details are so vague as to be almost useless. Kessler argues that if the discussion took place at all, it was because Clinton was trying to test boundaries to see if the Marines would take a woman as that makes the most sense based on what we know of her life at the time.

Which, as Kessler points out, is kind of dumb since they’d already taken a pile of them and sent them to Korea and Vietnam by 1975.

Plus, from the context of her comments, she was looking to enlist not to test boundaries, but to serve.  A noble intention… but that doesn’t seem to be a driving concern with recollections from her associates at the time.  Especially since Clinton had been so vocal in the anti-war movement.

The Post awarded her two Pinocchioes. It’s just another example of Hillary embellishing (read: lying) to make herself into something she’s not.

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1 comment

  1. Isaiah Thomas Reply

    Yet another serial liar, liar pant suit on fire moment.