Friday, May 23, 2008


Via Balloon Juice, here's Hillary Clinton today:

Hillary Clinton today brought up the assassination of Sen. Robert Kennedy while defending her decision to stay in the race against Barack Obama.

"My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. I don't understand it," she said, dismissing calls to drop out.


"...The Kennedys have been much on my mind the last days because of Senator [Edward] 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 [Robert] Kennedy's seat in the United States Senate from the state of New York and have the highest regard for the entire Kennedy family."


MT said...

You really believe she had in mind to encourage an assassination?? Do you consider it monstrous if she were merely willing to risk encouraging such a hideous prospect? Could she not reasonably perceive the risk to small, consider the encouragement she would be providing to be negligible and consider herself exceptionally well informed with regard to both matters? Do you just mean she has hideous taste? That she's guilty of coarseness? I'd go with that.

helmut said...

No, to the first question. I think she was basically saying, "anything can happen." But using the RFK assassination as a way of saying it is crass. It's especially crass in a context in which Obama's security has been an issue since the earliest days of his candidacy, in which many blacks and many on the left worry that the establishment "they" won't allow the Obama candidacy to reach the nomination and the presidency, and in which her campaign has deliberately exacerbated astonishingly harsh feelings towards Obama. So, yes, hideous taste. But she also could have used other examples of late-decided nominations. So, perhaps I should have used the word "oblivious" instead. That oblivion runs us back to her campaign's ongoing insistence that they can still win, despite the obvious. And it sends us back to the "meteor" theory in which her campaign awaits a highly unlikely and devastating event to vault her into the nomination. And now she references what that event could be. That's a kind of hideous oblivion.

Rodger A. Payne said...

This phrasing takes crass over-the-top.

I'd believe that she had the Kennedy family on her mind this week if she hadn't said the same thing to Time back in early March. Andrew Sullivan linked to it.

The 1968 election season lasted into June because Johnson withdrew from the race after New Hampshire (which was in March). RFK entered the race after that.

Bill Clinton might have been denied a first ballot victory if he'd been destroyed in California in 1968, but no one else was a viable alternative. Jerry Brown was basically a favorite son, remaining in the race as the anti-Clinton. For all practical purposes, Clinton had the nomination secured by early April. Back then, New Hampshire was in late February.

This year's 6 months of primaries is unprecedented and people are tired. She's tired and said something stupid -- and it wasn't even at 3 am.

This is a slip much worse than "bitter" to my ear.

Rodger A. Payne said...

Should have proofed that before I hit post. Clinton's contest was 1992, obviously.

helmut said...

A few commentators have said that the analogy between 2008 and 1968 works only with Hillary in the RFK position. That is, he was running far behind, but the campaign had continued into June (even if it started later). OK.... Still, as you point out Rodger, she's used the same example before when there are others to draw from. There's been time, in other words, to learn from the political damage (if nothing else) of using the analogy. This also belies the "she was just tired, like all of us" comments from the Obama campaign.

Basically, I don't get it. especially coming from a family of political animals.