Is Hillary Clinton a compulsive liar?

Compulsive liars lie with ease and without guilt.  Often they are so caught up in their lies that they don't realize the distinction between fact and fiction. Their lies may be plausible on the surface, requiring some effort to disprove.  Often the lies present the liar in a favorable or flattering light or else seek to hide failure.

Does Hillary Clinton fit this picture?

Hillary Clinton has a long history of tall tales.  Some designed to make her appear brave, such as her lie about coming under sniper fire during a trip to Bosnia in 1996.  Others connectED her to someone famous, such as her claim to be named after Sir Edmund Hillary.  Except that Sir Edmund, at the time of Hillary Clinton's birth, was simply Ed, an obscure New Zealand beekeeper.

Big deal – just embellished stories, like "the fish that got away."  But what about when the lies are profound, involving national security or American lives?

Mrs. Clinton lied about a video causing the Benghazi terror attack and is now doubling down, denying she lied to the victims' families about the video, blaming her fabrication on the "fog of war."  There's also her emails, which she lied about to Congress and the American people.  These aren't the inconsequential fabrications about whom she was named after, but serious false statements involving loss of American life and compromised U.S. foreign policy and national security.

Perhaps Hillary's lies are a recent phenomenon, related to some illness or injury.  Hillary suffered a concussion, or traumatic brain injury, in 2012.  One of the side effects of such injury is confabulation, a type of unintentional lying that portrays the liar in a favorable light and that the liar is totally unaware of.  This might explain some of Hillary's more recent fibs.

But lying is not a recent phenomenon for Mrs. Clinton.  William Safire, of the NY Times, wrote in 1996 that Hillary "is a congenital liar."  He noted a string of deception beginning in Arkansas and following her to the White House – cattle futures, Travelgate, Whitewater, lost billing records, and missing FBI files, to name some of her most prominent deceptions and cover-ups.

Going even farther back in history to the 1970s, Hillary Clinton was fired from her staff position on the Watergate House Judiciary Committee over "lies and unethical behavior."

Is a pattern of compulsive lying by a presidential candidate a legitimate concern?  Are Mrs. Clinton's lies about Benghazi and emails part of a longstanding pattern?  Are they consequences of her traumatic brain injury, described by her husband as "a terrible concussion that required six months of very serious work to get over"?  Or worse, are her lies part of a more significant personality disorder?

Will the media investigate and analyze Mrs. Clinton's pattern of deception and her suitability, or lack of, for the presidency?  Will the political fact-checkers scrutinize Hillary's claims in the same way they do for Donald Trump?  Or will they instead marvel at her ability to lie in the same way prominent Democrats stand in awe at Bill Clinton's skill as a liar?

What can't be ignored is a pattern of deceit, raising red flags as to the suitability of Mrs. Clinton for commander-in-chief.  Simply looking the other way under the guise of a Hillary-ism – "What difference does it make?" – is not enough.

Brian C Joondeph, MD, MPS, a Denver based retina surgeon, radio personality, and writer. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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