What Hillary meant

The Times quotes Clinton on the attack against her fellow Democrats. That's not what she said.

Published July 17, 2006 1:30PM (EDT)

Boy, that Hillary Clinton sure set the Democrats straight this weekend.

"Returning to her red-state ties," the Times' Anne Kornblut reports, Clinton "chastised Democrats Saturday for taking on issues that arouse conservatives and turn out Republican voters rather than finding consensus on mainstream subjects. Without mentioning specific subjects like gay marriage, Mrs. Clinton said: 'We do things that are controversial. We do things that try to inflame their base ... We are wasting our time.'"

Just one problem here, Anne. As Atrios points out, the transcript of Clinton's remarks makes it pretty clear that the "we" in question is the Republican-controlled Senate, and not Democrats trying hard to head in another direction.

What Clinton actually said:

After listing an agenda of legislation put together by the nine Democratic women in the U.S. Senate -- pensions, jobs, affordable college educations, protections for military families, etc. -- Clinton said that such work isn't a "priority" for "the Republican majority." "So we do other things," she said. "We do things that are controversial, we do things that try to inflame their base so that they can turn people out and vote for their candidates."

Kornblut's right; Clinton didn't mention gay marriage, an issue Bill Frist -- he's a Republican, see -- forced to the Senate floor earlier this summer. Nor did she mention other "things that are controversial" that "inflame" the Republican base: She didn't mention the constitutional amendment on flag burning, or the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act, or the Public Expression of Religion Act, or any of the other sops to the right the Republicans are introducing in Congress in the run-up to the November elections.

Maybe we're missing something here. But don't you think, Anne, that maybe Clinton was referring to those things -- and not to the Democrats' proposals on pensions and jobs and education -- when she said: "I think we are wasting time, we are wasting lives, we need to get back to making America work again, in a bipartisan, nonpartisan way"?

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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