One of the stories that Hillary Clinton likes to tell about herself is about how she is alleged to have sent a letter to NASA in the early 1960s inquiring how one might be an astronaut, only to have her girlhood dreams dashed by a response that stated that girls couldn't become astronauts. Clinton repeats this story in her latest memoirs, “What Happened,” as an illustration of how she was made aware of how her gender was a barrier to her success. The problem is, Clinton may not be telling the truth about the letter at all.

Did NASA tell girls they couldn’t be astronauts?

Several years ago, retired space journalist and former NASA employee James Oberg delved into the story of the Clinton NASA letter in the Space Review. While he could not find the exact letter that was alleged to have been sent to the teenage Hillary Rodham, Oberg could not find any other instance of a letter sent to children of either gender that was discouraging in such a manner. Typically, inquiries about becoming an astronaut got a response that spelled out the education and experience requirements for the position with a note of encouragement and a reminder that other exciting jobs existed at the space agency. NASA public affairs can be ham handed, then and now, but the space agency’s PAO knew that they depended on the good will of the country, including females.

Oberg also notes that the first class of female astronauts that was chosen in 1978, which included such luminaries as Sally Ride and Judith Resnik, were about the same age as Hillary Clinton. Had young Ms. Rodman studied math and science instead of Saul Alinsky, she would have had a chance at an astronaut position. Whether she ever possessed the talent for such a demanding job is open to question.

Hillary as a fabulist

We do know one provable lie that Hillary Clinton has told about herself. She claimed that she was named after Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to climb Mount Everest. The problem with that story is that she was born in 1947 and Sir Edmund became famous for his mountaineering feat in 1953. Why Ms. Clinton told such a verifiable lie speaks volumes about her character and her psychological quirks.

So what does this tell us about the story of the NASA letter? Clinton’s record of dishonesty and Oberg’s research teaches us that we should take the story with a proverbial grain of salt. At the very least, some sharp eyed journalist should call her out on the story and demand that she produce the letter to prove what she has been saying for decades is true.