Friday, May 23, 2008

Hillary Finally Crosses Line With RFK Remark

Hillary Finally Crosses Line With RFK Remark

OK, I've had it.

I've been critical of Hillary Clinton, sure, but it's more about issues than about tactics. My big problem has always been the same: the war vote, and the way she stood by it like a giant middle finger salute to the peace movement.

As for the Clinton campaign's tactics, they were borderline but not unprecedented. Students Shouldn't Caucus was contradicted by the Count! The! Votes! rhetoric about Florida and Michigan, but that's within the realm of normal hypocrisy. And her re-invention as Appalachia's Great White Hope is more a problem with bigoted voters than with Hillary, though it would have been nice to hear a high-minded "If you're voting for me only because my opponent is black, then I don't want your vote" line at some point.

But this crosses the line:

You know my husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere around the middle of June. We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California.

Bringing up assassination. In the context of her run against the man who looks like he may be the first black president. In the 21st century, that's what we call a Macaca moment.

Nice nomination youse got here. Shame if anything happened to it. Maybe there was more to that Sopranos video than we thought. No, I'm not a Vince Foster conspiracy theorist, but this slip was too revealing of the thought process.

Her apology:
"“Earlier today I was discussing the Democratic primary history and in the course of that discussion mentioned the campaigns that both my husband and Senator Kennedy waged in California in June 1992 and 1968 and I was referencing those to make the point that we have had nomination primary contests that go into June. That’s a historic fact. The Kennedys have been much on my mind the last days because of Senator Kennedy and I regret that if my referencing that moment of trauma for our entire nation, and particularly for the Kennedy family was in any way offensive. I certainly had no intention of that, whatsoever. My view is that we have to look to the past and to our leaders who have inspired us and give us a lot to live up to, and I’m honored to hold Senator Kennedy’s seat in the United States Senate from the state of New York and have the highest regard for the entire Kennedy family.”"

Historic facts. Why not the 1972 McGovern-Humphrey credentials fight, a reasonable facsimile of Michigan/Florida? She worked on the McGovern campaign; you'd think that might come to mind first. Or Reagan and Ford in `76, when Ronnie tried to smoke Jerry out on the running mate issue in a last-ditch attempt to peel off 50 or so delegates? No, the first thought that came to Hillary Clinton's mind in that editorial board was Bobby Kennedy, on the night of that 1968 victory in California and that sudden turn of emotions from celebration to horror, just two months after Dr. King's murder... that underlit photo where his body fell in that crucifixion pose, Ethel screaming over his dying body, Rosey Grier weeping...

She can, and probably will, apologize more, but she can't un-ring this bell. I can hear the die-hard supporters brushing it off already, saying "oh, she was tired" or some other explanation we've heard before. But the statement plays too perfectly into the "she'd do anything to be president" preconception. People keep asking, "Why is she staying in? What does she want?" Now it's clear. She wants to be president - NOW - and she's staying in In Case Something Happens.

It's offensive to Obama. It's offensive to the memory of Bobby Kennedy, the man whose Senate seat Clinton holds, a man who himself was often accused of being "ruthless," but who never voiced a subconscious wish to whack a rival. (Well, Castro, true, but not HHH or LBJ or Gene McCarthy or even Tricky Dicky.) It's offensive to his surviving brother, battling a sudden unexpected threat to his life from another kind of killer. It's offensive to anyone calling themselves a Democrat.

Is this what she really wants? Even if it's on some subconscious id level, that her superego will sincerely deny, that's disconcerting.

Team Obama react: "Senator Clinton's statement before the Argus Leader editorial board was unfortunate and has no place in this campaign."

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