Saturday, May 24, 2008

Hillary and the Dead Kennedys

I don't know what to say about Hillary's reminder to the Sioux Falls Argus Leader editorial board that it wasn't until June of 1968 that Robert Kennedy was taken out of contention in that's year's nomination fight. In this case, by an assassin's bullet. But, as furious as I've been with the willingness of Hillary's campaign to play the race card, my reaction to this episode has been to give her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe this time, it really it really is the misstatement of an exhausted candidate. But, here are some excerpts from some arguments from around the blogosphere that make me think twice:

From the XX Factor blog at, first Rosa Brooks:
I think we know exactly what Hillary meant:
"Nice nominee you got there... sure would be a shame if anything happened to him."
Awfully big-hearted of her to be willing to stick around through August, just in case....
And, Melinda Henneberger:
I'm not saying she literally hopes he dies soon. (Plus, she's apologized, so case closed, right?) But Hillary didn't mean what she said this time just like she wasn't exactly shouting out to hardworking white people, and Bill didn't quite say Jesse equals Barack, and her surrogates never meant to push the whole image of him as a druggie in the 'hood, and she never meant to reanimate the whole highly racial Jeremiah Wright hoo-ha by saying—gosh darn the timing, just as things were dying down—that he woulda never been her pick for pastor. But either Hillary Clinton is one smart, savvy, and occasionally even on-message politician—in which case she is well aware of what it means to reference the possible assassination of a black leader in this country—or she isn't and doesn't. It can't be both.
And this conclusion from Emily Yoffe:

...I don't like the game of gotcha in which every ill-phrased remark is grounds for ending a candidacy. But recently Clinton has been making a string of offensive statements, from saying "hard-working white Americans" support her and not Obama, to comparing her effort to seat delegates from Florida and Michigan to the civil-rights marchers beaten in Selma. But calling forth the forces of madness to give her the presidency - please, let her end the madness of her campaign.
From BarbinMD on Daily Kos:

But this isn’t the first time she has made this same, offensive comparison. In March of this year:

TIME: Can you envision a point at which--if the race stays this close--Democratic Party elders would step in and say, "This is now hurting the party and whoever will be the nominee in the fall"?

CLINTON: No, I really can't. I think people have short memories. Primary contests used to last a lot longer. We all remember the great tragedy of Bobby Kennedy being assassinated in June in L.A. My husband didn't wrap up the nomination in 1992 until June. Having a primary contest go through June is nothing particularly unusual.

Once might be a mistake, twice and it’s a tactic. An offensive, ugly tactic from a failed campaign whose only hope is to raise the possibility that something might happen to Obama. The willingness to say such a thing in a cheap effort to sway superdelegates is disgusting.
And, finally from Josh Orton at MyDD:

This must now end.

Over the past weeks, many have called for Clinton to end her campaign based on metrics. But with the infrastructure-building the primary keeps delivering, I've been reasonably comfortable waiting until June for closure.
But this is unacceptable.
The United States has a history of profound political violence - and the use of violence to oppress and coerce. And while I'm not quite willing to accept that Clinton spoke maliciously - it doesn't matter. There is no excuse for flippantly referencing assassination, especially given the historic nature of Obama's campaign and our nation's grim history of racial oppression through violence. When Hillary Clinton speaks of our history, she is not reflecting academically or only in a vacuum - her words and influence are real. To act otherwise is negligent, at best.

No context can save her. She must go.

1 comment:

Steve Ballmer said...

Given all of the things throughout history which have happened in June, Hellary mentions the assassination of Bobby Kennedy? An unusually close parallel to Obama or wishful thinking or maybe instructions to the wack job racist out there?

“You guys aren’t doing your job!”
That’s what I hear Hellary saying!
Maybe that’s just me, …. we will find out at Barak’s wake.