As is obvious from the articles on this blog I am an ardent supporter of Barack Obama not only through my posts in the blogosphere but with my wallet as well. Senator Clinton’s ill phrased remarks about historical reasons to stay in the Presidential primary through June were just that- ill phrased. I can attribute many negative machinations to the Clinton machine, but to make the leap that she is dark enough and sinister enough to be waiting around for Senator Obama to be taken down by an assassin’s bullet is just absurd.
It is true that her words could have been chosen better. There are two words that are third rails in political discourse- assassination and Hitler. It is quite unfortunate that both have been used within the course of a couple of weeks in this campaign but President Bush’s evocation of Hitler in front of a Israel’s Knesset was deliberate and sinister and beyond the pale- but it is perfectly in keeping with the tawdry, disgusting politics of fear and low maneuvering that is part and parcel of the President’s politics and now the presumptive Republican nominee John McBush.
The Clintons are pushy politicans who want to win and will do just about anything to win, but to attribute anything as heinous as wishing for an assassin’s bullet is just not part of the Clinton make up.
Pundits and bloggers jumped all over Senator Obama’s “bitter” remarks and what was an intelligent and nuanced statement by the Senator was parsed down into something it wasn’t. Obama was referring to how Republicans manipulate people to vote against their economic interest by inserting wedge issues like gay marriage and gun control laws into the rhetoric of the campaign to change the focus on issues that truly impact someone’s life. If gay marriage was such a threat- we would have seen social collapse in Massachusetts, Canada, Spain, and the Netherlands; but alas the family remains in tact and these societies have not fallen into disarray. Mr. Obama used language that was not intended to offend but the pundits crucified him for weeks.
It is clear that, unless Mrs. Clinton has lost her faculties that she wasn’t suggesting that she is some ghoulish figure waiting in the wings for something horrible to happen to Mr. Obama.
It is true that the word assassination has a heightened level of emotion than usual in this historic campaign. Mr. Obama was required to have secret service protection earlier in the campaign than is the norm because as an African American presidential candidate he had received credible death threats. Everyone is aware of this specter but no one talks about it for fear that even mentioning it would bring the nuts out of the wood work.
Mrs. Clinton chose her words clumsily. What folks should be concentrating on is the misrepresentation about President Clinton’s 1992 campaign. She always talks about how Bill’s nomination wasn’t tied up until June with the California primary. Technically Mr. Clinton did not have the delegates to put him over the top until that primary, but for all intents and purposes the race was over in March when all serious contenders had left the race. Mrs. Clinton’s remarks about the 1992 election are disingenuous at best. There are better examples to give than 1992 and the ill fated California campaign of Robert Kennedy in 1968. There was the 1980 Kennedy / Carter campaign and the 1976 Ford / Reagan campaigns- both bitter and both resulting in fights up to the convention.
Mrs. Clinton’s apology was odd- it was an apology to the Kennedy family and there was no mention of the impact such a statement may have on Mr. Obama- his sense of security or that of his wife and children. That was indeed odd- but it was clear Mrs. Clinton was both shaken and tired.
There are heightened feelings in the Democratic party- there is the first African American and the first woman who have been battling each other for the nomination. The election is already historic and it is fraught with tension exacerbated by race and gender politics.
I have written here before that Mrs. Clinton should gracefully exit for the good of her party. I’ll amend that statement. We can all hang in there for another couple of weeks after Montana, South Dakota and Puerto Rico have a chance to vote and the Rules Committee makes a determination on Florida. If it makes Mrs. Clinton feel better to go out after that process is complete- that’s fine. She will be able to leave knowing she saw the race all the way through and be the model of tenacity she wants to be for women.
However if she makes more gaffes like this one as she winds down she risks loosing the very thing that she is looking for- leaving with her dignity and honor in tact. When she was “apologizing” for her remarks in a South Dakota grocery store she looked beaten down and just sad. Sad and pathetic is not the legacy Mrs. Clinton wants nor is it one that she deserves. The next few weeks will be a test to he own and her husband’s legacy. The Clintons don’t have much experience loosing. They lost a few early on and they vowed they never would lose again and they haven’t until now. Seeing how the Clintons – successful for decades- handle a loss will be as important to their legacy as what they accomplished in their years of power and in the years to come.