Jaon Walsh's Embarrassing Hillary Apologia

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Salon's Joan Walsh is outraged that anyone would think there was anything untoward about Hillary's reference to RFK's assassination as justification for her staying in the presidential race.

The world is divided between people who consider Bill and Hillary Clinton monsters, and people who don't. It used to be that the monster faction was limited to Republicans and certain mainstream media fixtures like Maureen Dowd and much of the MSNBC lineup. Now, increasingly, it involves too many Obama-supporting Democrats -- and the Clinton-hate is in danger of damaging the Democratic Party.

. . .

Thanks to my long weekend, I could probably get away without addressing the controversy over Clinton's RFK remarks, which is finally dying down. But I think this is an important and disturbing issue for Democrats. Criticize Clinton's vote to authorize the Iraq war, her pandering on the gas tax holiday, her lame remarks about "hardworking Americans, white Americans," her response to Obama's "bitter" remarks, her lackluster campaign strategy coming into 2008. I've criticized all of that, and more. But to argue that she was suggesting she's staying in the race because Obama might be assassinated -- even after both Clinton, and the journalists who interviewed her, said her reference was to RFK's June campaign, not to his heartbreaking murder -- requires either a special kind of paranoia or venal political opportunism.

That she was referring to Bobby's campaign and not his murder is objectively false. In the three documented instances in which Hillary has raised this issue, two of them referenced his assassination, specifically.

Scrolling through the 700 odd comments -- largely critical of Walsh's assessment -- I noted bowseat93's recommendation of Stephen Ducat's blog on Huffington Post, as food for thought on Hillary's motivations. Ducat lays out a far more telling time-line than Hillary's irrelevant primaries through history version.

On March 2 an ABC/Washington Post poll showed that 59% of Americans were worried "that someone might attempt to physically harm Barack Obama if he's the Democratic nominee for president." By March 6 Hillary Clinton was reminding her interviewer, Time Managing Editor Richard Stengel, of "the great tragedy of Bobby Kennedy being assassinated in June in L.A." This was a response to a question about whether her decision to stay in a race she couldn't win would hurt her party. It only seemed like a thoughtless non sequitur.

As we have recently learned, two months later, on May 23, while discussing the same issue with the editorial board of the Argus Leader, she called upon her audience to "remember [that] Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California." When two utterances of the same "gaffe" are nearly identical, like Senator Clinton's oft-repeated Bosnian sniper "misstatements," such mistakes are likely to be motivated, either by a conscious strategy or an unconscious wish.

Ducat's time-line inspired to me to check on another. In the fallout since Hillary's appalling gaffe, it came to light that Obama has had increased security, possibly due to death threats. It occurred to me that this was probably something Hillary must have known. Likewise Mike Huckabee, whose "joke" in front of the NRA, did not receive the scrutiny it deserved. So I did a little googling and I find it hard to believe that both Hillary and Huckabee did not know that Obama was granted a Secret Service security detail, since it was reported in the beginning of May.

The Secret Service said Thursday that Sen. Barack Obama was being placed under their protection, the earliest ever for a presidential candidate.

Secret Service spokesman Eric Zahren said Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff authorized Obama’s protection after consultations with the congressional advisory committee.

. . .

Earlier reports said Obama had received a threat of some sort.

But a Homeland Security official said it was not in response to a specific threat.

Obama's campaign office deferred all questions to the Secret Service and Homeland Security.

So here are things Hillary obviously knew when she made her most recent, disastrous gaffe. That over half the country is concerned that Obama could be assassinated and that he has Secret Service protection earlier than any other presidential candidate -- and that there were non-denial denials about the issue of specific threats. Could she really be that careless and inconsiderate?

Here's the bottom line. Despite Walsh's protestations to the contrary on "Hardball" Hillary owes Obama a direct apology. And she owes an apology to the many Americans whose hearts went into their throats at hearing the word assassination in the context of her continuing to run against Obama. AND she needs to clearly and forcefully state that she has no desire to see the man assassinated? Why? Because she knows full well that she has a racist voter base, which she panders to on a regular basis. "Hard-working white people" indeed. You know. The people in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio, who stated openly to pollsters that race was an issue when they cast their votes for Hillary. Unlike John Edwards, Hillary has made absolutely no attempt to disown the support of those racists. Any one of them could be hearing Hillary's assassination in June references as a dog-whistle and a prompt to make the nightmare of over have the population a reality. Unless and until Hillary learns to admit a single fucking error and do something proactive to stop the potentially life threatening damage of her idiocy, I must assume that her gaffe was not a gaffe at all.