It's 3AM and the White House phone is ringing. Let us pray the phone is on Bill's side of the bed. He actually has real experience in diplomacy. Hillary promises only rhetoric but Billary pledges results. In listing her myriad foreign policy accomplishments during her tenure in the White House, Senator Clinton waxed nostalgic about how she brokered peace between the Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland. Now, Lord Trimble offers ... the rest of the story.
Hillary Clinton had no direct role in bringing peace to Northern Ireland and is a "wee bit silly" for exaggerating the part she played, according to Lord Trimble of Lisnagarvey, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and former First Minister of the province.
"I don’t know there was much she did apart from accompanying Bill [Clinton] going around," he said. Her recent statements about being deeply involved were merely "the sort of thing people put in their canvassing leaflets" during elections. "She visited when things were happening, saw what was going on, she can certainly say it was part of her experience. I don’t want to rain on the thing for her but being a cheerleader for something is slightly different from being a principal player."
But seriously, what does that guy know? He does not represent the views of the American people.
"I helped to bring peace to Northern Ireland."
But negotiators from the parties that helped broker the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 told The Daily Telegraph that her role was peripheral and that she played no part in the grueling political talks over the years.
Lord Trimble shared the Nobel Peace Prize with John Hume, leader of the nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party, in 1998. Conall McDevitt, an SDLP negotiator and aide to Mr Hume during the talks, said: "There would have been no contact with her either in person or on the phone. I was with Hume regularly during calls in the months leading up to the Good Friday Agreement when he was taking calls from the White House and they were invariably coming from the president."
Central to Mrs Clinton’s claim of an important Northern Ireland role is a meeting she attended in Belfast with a group of women from cross-community groups. "I actually went to Northern Ireland more than my husband did," she said in Nashua, New Hampshire on January 6th.
"I remember a meeting that I pulled together in Belfast, in the town hall there, bringing together for the first time Catholics and Protestants from both traditions, having them sitting in a room where they had never been before with each other because they don’t go to school together, they don’t live together and it was only in large measure because I really asked them to come that they were there.
"And I wasn’t sure it was going to be very successful and finally a Catholic woman on one side of the table said, ’You know, every time my husband leaves for work in the morning I worry he won’t come home at night.
"And then a Protestant woman on the other side said, ’Every time my son tries to go out at night I worry he won’t come home again’. And suddenly instead of seeing each other as caricatures and stereotypes they saw each other as human beings and the slow, hard work of peace-making could move forward."
That is a touching story, almost certainly a work of fiction. If she had been campaigning in Texas, the women in the parable would have been rival tequila distillers; if in Georgia, then crack head widows. She believes this meeting actually took place, just like her husband believes he used to see churches in black communities burn to the ground when he was a child.
There is no record of a meeting at Belfast City Hall, though Mrs Clinton attended a ceremony there when her husband turned on the Christmas tree lights in November 1995. The former First Lady appears to be referring a 50-minute event the same day, arranged by the US Consulate, the same day at the Lamp Lighter Café.
The "Belfast Telegraph" reported the next day that the café meeting was crammed with reporters, cameramen and Secret Service agents. Conversation "seemed a little bit stilted, a little prepared at times" and Mrs Clinton admired a stainless steel tea pot, which was duly given to her, for keeping the brew "so nice and hot".
Among those attending were women from groups representing single parents, relationship counselors, youth workers and a cultural society. In her 2003 autobiography "Living History", Mrs Clinton wrote about the meeting in some detail but made no claim that it was significant.
Here is a lovely photograph of Mrs. Clinton playing at tea with the ladies of Sinn Fein:
Steven King, a negotiator with Lord Trimble’s Ulster Unionist Party, argued that Mrs Clinton might even have helped delay the chances of peace. "She was invited along to some pre-arranged meetings but I don’t think she exactly brought anybody together that hadn’t been brought together already," he said. Mrs Clinton was "a cheerleader for the Irish republican side of the argument", he added.
"She really lost all credibility on Bill Clinton’s last visit to Northern Ireland [in December 2000] when she hugged and kissed [Sinn Fein leaders] Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness."
So, it's not so much that she was brokering peace, but that she was clearly playing favorites, lavishing affection on the players whom she most admired in the altercation.
Responding to inquiries from this newspaper, Hillary Clinton’s campaign issued a statement responding to the comments from Mr Hume. "I am quite surprised that anyone would suggest that Hillary Clinton did not perform important foreign policy work as First Lady," the statement said.Imagine Joe Montana's wife showing up at camp the year after he retired, expecting to get the nod at quarterback for the upcoming season. She had spent the past several years discussing strategy with Joe after every game, had traveled with him to all the road games, discussing football with the other wives. She feels she is now ready to step up and assume the role that her husband has vacated. She has the "experience" because she has "been there". And shame on anyone for thinking she can't handle the job just because she is a woman.