Lord knows there are plenty of reasons to be appalled by Hillary Clinton, but her claim to have been "instrumental" (I kid you not) in bringing "peace" to Northern Ireland is (for me) the single most enraging element of her campaign. Of course this is monstrous nonsense but, alas, it seems to be being treated with undue respect by the American media. Take for instance this remarkable exchange between Terry McAuliffe and a CNN anchor on March 4th:
ROBERTS:What are those life experiences that she has that would make her more qualified?
MCAULIFFE: Well, sure, John. First of all, being first lady, she traveled over 80 countries, met with world leaders. As you know, she worked on opening the borders in the Balkans. I was just at a huge event getting ready for St. Patty's Day in Cleveland, Ohio, an Irish-American event for Hillary Clinton. We would not have peace today had it not for Hillary's hard work in Northern Ireland...
ROBERTS: Right. But...
MCAULIFFE: ...working with her husband.
ROBERTS: But what crisis has she dealt with?
MCAULIFFE: John, it's the whole scope of these events and I'm talking about working in Northern Ireland. It's going to China in front of the world leaders in China and saying to them, you're violating human rights. You are -- you are violating women's rights. These are big issues that affect people. She has taken on tough challenges. Those are life experiences. She's been all over the world.
You will note, won't you, how Roberts doesn't even bother challenging McAuliffe's preposterous suggestion that there'd have been no peace process without the efforts of Hillary Rodham Clinton?
You might dismiss McAuliffe as a freelance blowhard, but as Toby Harnden points out, Hillary is also indulging in some quasi-megalomaniac fantasy:
After Nobel peace prize winner David Trimble’s gentle admonition via my story last week that inflating her role in bringing peace to Northern Ireland was a “wee bit silly”, one might have thought she’d rein herself in a touch. Not a bit of it – there she was today going further than ever before by saying on NPR that she played an “instrumental” role.
You can hear the audio here by clicking on “listen now” – go to the five-minute point (just after the cackle). She abandons her carefully-calibrated previous formulation of having “helped to bring peace to Northern Ireland” (technically, by that measure, several million people might qualify) in favour of: “I wasn't sitting at the negotiating table but the role I played was instrumental.”
A highly charitable interpretation of Clinton's remarks would suggest that she was as instrumental to the process as a Second Violin is to an orchestra. They're useful things, for sure, but it doesn't matter very much if one of them is missing. In other words, their value is collective, not individual. No-one would have missed Hillary had she never set foot upon Ulster soil, but she did at least stick to the tune and kept out of the way.
Her "role" such as it was, consisted entirely of, as Time points out here, "hearing" the "voices" of women's groups who were, however justly or not, almost entirely irrelevant to the peace process. A cup of tea in Belfast is not quite the same as being "instrumental" to a peace process that had in any case been underway for years before the Clinton's ever first visited Northern Ireland.
As Toby says:
Give me 20 minutes and I could probably name 200 people who played a bigger role than Hillary.