One week after former Governor Mike Huckabee ruined his chances to be John McCain’s running mate with a shameful “joke” touching upon the potential assassination of Democratic front-runner Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton did Huckabee one better by making a Freudian slip of monumental proportions.
On a day in which Obama picked up the endorsement of five more superdelegates, including one who previously supported Hillary Clinton, Clinton likely destroyed her future national political career by justifying her staying in the race for the Democratic Presidential nomination to be there in case Obama is assassinated.
While Clinton was harshly condemned by most political pundits (with the notable exception of right-winger Tony Blankley who said that Presidential candidates think about assassination as a matter of course), being there to gather up the marbles after an Obama assassination apparently has been on her mind for sometime, and has been alluded to by her in the past. This is the first time she has used the word “assassination” rather than the ambiguous “event” in forecasting a potentially fatal turn in Obama’s candidacy that would knock him out of the race.
Clinton was in South Dakota on Friday, May 22nd, when she made the remarks during a meeting with the editorial board of the Sioux Falls Argus Leader. In response to a question on why she didn’t drop out of the race, she made a historical reference to the length of the political campaign season.
“My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right?”
Clinton was fudging the facts: Bill Clinton essentially had wrapped up the 1992 Democratic Presidential nomination when he won the Illinois primary, which was held on March 17th. That year’s Presidential nominating season also began nearly six weeks later than the 2008 contest, with the New Hampshire primary coming on February 18, 1992 (the Iowa caucuses being uncontested), so her comparison was an error in logic known as “historical fallacy.” The 1968 New Hampshire primary was held on March 12th and the California primary that year was held on June 4th, less than three months later, making nonsense of a comparison of the length of campaign seasons that uses as a yardstick the June elections of 1968, ’92 and ’08. However, after making her historical fallacy argument, Clinton immediately made a Freudian slip of monumental proportions.
“We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California,” she told the editorial board. “You know I just, I don’t understand it,” she said, claiming to not know why she was expected to drop out of the race, particularly when the controversial Barack Obama, an African American, could be murdered, thus opening up a path to the Presidency for her.
Later that day, Hillary Clinton tried to deflect criticism by apologizing to Robert F. Kennedy’s family rather than to Barack Obama. The intent of Hillary Clinton’s “assassination” reference was clear: Obama could be killed and then she could step in and win the nomination that had so far eluded her. This was what she meant, and everybody knows it, but — practiced politician that she is, well-versed in the art of obfuscation — Clinton chose to pretend that that is not what she was alluding to.
“I was discussing the Democratic primary history and in the course of that discussion mentioned the campaigns of both my husband and Senator Kennedy waged in California in June in 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,” she told the press.
“The Kennedys have been much on my mind the last days because of Senator [Edward] Kennedy. I regret that if my referencing that moment of trauma for our entire nation and in particular the Kennedy family was in any way offensive. I certainly had no intention of that whatsoever.”
Her comments were the height of disingenuousness. Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who lost two of his brothers to assassination and recently had been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, was an early endorser of Barack Obama for the Presidency. He also came out recently and said that Hillary Clinton has no place on the Democratic ticket as Barack Obama’s vice president as she was the antithesis of the clean, reform-minded politics of inclusion that Obama represented.
The apology to the Kennedy family did provide a fig-leaf of sorts, as RFK’s son, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., issued a statement defending Clinton. (Both he and his sister, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, have endorsed Clinton for President).
“It is clear from the context that Hillary was invoking a familiar political circumstance in order to support her decision to stay in the race through June…. I understand how highly charged the atmosphere is, but I think it is a mistake for people to take offense.”
The problem is, the remark was not about RFK’s assassination, as hard as Clinton and her supporters tried to spin the comment to pretend that it was, but was a speculation turning on the potential assassination of Barack Obama. And it came a week after Mike Huckabee apparently scuttled his own Vice Presidential hopes when, during a speech before the National Rifle Association, he made a joke that a loud crashing sound from backstage was Obama falling over a chair, trying to hide from a gunman. (Huckabee was not invited to a barbecue for potential Vice Presidential contenders by Republican Presidential-presumptive John McCain.)
Donna Brazile, the African American political consultant who was the manager of Al Gore’s 2000 Presidential campaign, was quoted as saying, “I am numb,” by Newsday, the major daily serving Long Island and New York City back in Clinton’s “home state” of New York. (The carpetbagger Clinton never lived in New York until she decided to run of the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Daniel Patrick Moynihan.) The newspaper also quoted New York State Senator Bill Perkins, a Democrat who represents Harlem in Albany who is an Obama supporter.
“My jaw just dropped — I think she just basically shattered her hopes of being named as vice president,” Perkins said. “To use the example of an assassination I think leads one to believe that she may be talking about something unfortunate happening to Barack Obama. Couple that with the other remarks she made recently about winning the white vote and her husband’s statements and I’d say something is seriously amiss.”
Ironically, Hillary Clinton’s U.S. Senate seat was once occupied by Robert F. Kennedy. Kennedy was gunned down immediately after claiming victory in the California primary on June 5, 1968. Many people believe that his death was the result of a conspiracy since RFK was killed by a bullet to the back of the head from about 1 inch away, whereas his alleged assassin, Sirhan Sirhan, was a standing about six feet in front of him and was being tackled by multiple standers-by. Despite the alleged assassin’s pistol having a capacity of 8 rounds, more than 8 shots were fired that night. The Los Angeles Police Department has never satisfactorily explained the anomalies, and all evidence was destroyed and some photographic evidence was suppressed for a generation after the event. At the time, the assassination of a Presidential candidate was not a federal crime, so the local authorities handled the case, just as they had in Dallas in November 1963.
Presidential candidates were not provided with Secret Service protection in 1968, but were afterward, a tradition that continues.Barack Obama was provided with Secret Service protection in May 2007, which the earliest a candidate who did not already enjoy Secret Service protection (such as former First Lady Hillary Clinton) has received it. Obama gained Secret Service protection as he has been the target of racist death threats.
Hillary and her husband Bill Clinton have played the race card, denigrating the candidacy of the African American Barack Obama, first by comparing him to Jesse Jackson as a niche black candidate, and then by claiming that he can’t win the white working class vote. The race-baiting began shortly after Obama won the New Hampshire primary, which was held on January 8, 2008, the earliest time since the Granite State initiated a primary system for allocating its delegates to national political conventions in 1916.
There is speculation that Hillary Clinton is remaining in the race, under the guidance of her husband Bill, to bulldoze her way to the Vice Presidential nomination as Barack Obama likely will not offer her the second spot on the ticket due to the personal enmity between the two candidates. Bill Clinton reportedly is brokering a scenario by which she will win the Vice Presidential nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Denver despite the wishes of Barack Obama. Under this scenario, California Senator Diane Feinstein will nominate Hillary Clinton for the Vice Presidency, despite Obama’s desires and whether or not Obama has named a Vice Presidential pick of his own. Even if Obama has picked a running mate, Hillary Clinton’s name will be put into nomination, the thinking goes, and Clinton’s forces will attempt to steamroller the opposition and have her nominated as Vice President.
No modern Presidential candidate has ever had a Vice Presidential pick forced upon him. Hillary Clinton, though, has shown that she plays by her own rules.
Some political pundits weighing Hillary Clinton’s chances of becoming Vice President on the ticket have noted the hazard of Clinton as Lucrezia Borgia, in speculating about whether Obama would permit Clinton to get the 2008 Democratic Vice Presidential nomination. One columnist for the Huffington Post alluded to the Rev. Al Sharpton’s comment in 2000, who said, after being asked whether George W. Bush would pick New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani as his Vice President, “If he did, he ought to hire a professional food-taster.”
Lucrezia Borgia, the daughter of Pope Alexander VI, had a reputation of poisoning her enemies.
There are many who believe that the assassination of John F. Kennedy may have been engineered by his Vice President, Lyndon Baines Johnson. This speculation has existed from the day Kennedy was shot in LBJ’s native Texas as LBJ’s bag man, Bobby Baker, had resigned the month before the assassination and was being investigated by the Senate. The Senate also was holding hearings on a defense contact for which LBJ reportedly received a huge kickback, handled by Baker. (Another LBJ confederate, Billy Sol Estes, also was a the heart of yet another corruption investigation.)
There was talk amongst Republican Senators that they would try to impeach Johnson, and it was known that JFK was seriously considering dumping LBJ from the 1964 ticket. The day JFK was killed, the Senate was conducting hearings into the defense contract. The hearings were suspended forever after LBJ became president. Bobby Baker had ties to some of the very same Mafia figures that have provided fodder for conspiracy theorists for almost half-a-century.
Hillary Clinton’s defense of LBJ when denigrating Martin Luther King, Jr.’s role in bringing about the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 will not assauge the concerns of those worried that with a friend like Clinton on the ticket or in the White House, Barack Obama would have no need for enemies.
Boston Herald, ” Killer gaffe: Hillary Clinton cites RFK assassination; She quickly apologizes; Obama campaign slams remark; pundits divided on her intent, effect”
Huffington Post, “Superdelegates Shift To Obama”
Newsday, “Obama supporters condemn Clinton’s Kennedy remarks”
Washington Post, “Clinton Sorry For Remark About RFK Assassination; Comment Was Made in Reference to Primaries”