Bring back the Soviet Union: We're on our way back to our sprawling campus, with full services to resume tomorrow.
In the meantime, maybe it's time to bring back the Soviet Union. This thought came to mind as we read Glenn Kessler's new Washington Post Fact-Checker report, "Recalling Hillary Clinton’s claim of ‘landing under sniper fire’ in Bosnia."
Kessler's report starts off like this. We'll highlight two points which "bring the eternal note of sadness in:"
KESSLER (5/23/16): One of our all-time great fact checks was The Fact Checker’s March 21, 2008, report on Hillary Clinton’s false claim that she arrived in Bosnia “under sniper fire.” The article, written by our former colleague Michael Dobbs, was quickly followed by CBS News, PolitiFact and others—and ultimately became a defining moment in the 2008 campaign for the former first lady. The incident even earns a mention in a recent attack ad from the National Republican Senatorial Committee.Sad. Kessler is revisiting a misstatement by Candidate Clinton from 2008. Despite the fact that the misstatement in question is eight years old, he reports that "readers constantly ask about" it.
Readers constantly ask us about Clinton’s Bosnia tale, and ask whether we will fact check it. As noted, The Fact Checker did so eight years ago. But the original version now appears on the web in very small type, so here it is again. We have also included new material on what happened next.
He reprints the Post's original fact-check of this eight-year old event. Weirdly, he refers to that original piece as "one of our all-time great fact checks."
We see here the ancient human need to construct and oppose a vile, fiendish enemy figure. At one time, the Soviet Union played that role for us in this country. In the process, the Soviet Union brought us together, as Nixon was once asked to do.
Since the loss of that external enemy, various players in various camps have been busily constructing internal enemies. (We'd include the mainstream press corps as one of these camps.) In this case, one camp is constantly asking poor Kessler to remind them of how vile this particular enemy is.
This is a form of mental illness. Increasingly, it defines our political/journalistic culture.
For today, we'll recommend that you read the "Aftermath" section of Kessler's post, in which he quotes the way Ambassador Christopher Hill recalled the Tuzla event in his book from 2014. Hill's account of what happened that day adds background and context to Clinton's misstatement, which she made in 2008.
Mainly, though, we'll recommend that you weep and quake about our human need to construct The Other. The need for demons has come to define our political culture. Incomparably, therefore, we ask you again:
Is it possibly time to bring back the Soviet Union?
UPDATE: We've received a thoughtful phone call on this subject on our movie star hot line, which carries an unlisted number.
The telephonic communication came from an audibly angry Al Pacino. "This whole post-Cold War arrangement is out of order," the furious movie star said.