A new low in Clinton bashing

Can anyone truly believe her remark about Robert Kennedy's assassination was anything other than an unfortunate reference to another June primary battle?

Topics: 2008 Elections,

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.

I took the weekend off, really and truly off, because my daughter graduated from high school Saturday (yay!) and events got under way Thursday night. I did check e-mail briefly on Friday, and I learned then about Clinton’s unfortunate reference to Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination — from an Obama campaign e-mail from spokesman Bill Burton. I took some time to look around at the coverage, and I followed a link to Clinton’s actual interview with the Argus-Leader, and I had to say: Wow. I couldn’t believe this became the weekend’s hottest political issue. I couldn’t believe Keith Olbermann did a special comment on it (which I really couldn’t believe was also widely circulated via e-mail by the Obama campaign). I couldn’t believe that only George Stephanopoulos took the time to scrutinize and question the judgment behind the Obama campaign’s political use of what was at worst bad phrasing on Clinton’s part.

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.

I understand the fears many people have about Obama’s safety; given our country’s tragic history, they are real and understandable. Suggesting Clinton was trying to play on such fears is different. Throughout this long campaign the Clintons have been turned into a vile caricature: amoral, power-mad narcissists who are not beyond using racism and even worries about Obama’s safety to press their political cause. I’ve criticized both Clintons repeatedly in the pages of Salon for over 10 years, but it’s really time to say: Enough.

You Might Also Like

For several months I’ve found myself bothered by a double standard in both the behavior and the media coverage of the Obama campaign, as supposedly representing a new kind of clean, post-partisan politics, by contrast with the dirty old win-at-any-cost Clintons. Hardball Obama campaign tactics — David Axelrod partly blaming Clinton for Benazir Bhutto’s death; the intimidation of Clinton voters by a pro-Obama union in Nevada (to be fair, some Obama supporters claimed intimidation by Clinton forces, too); the campaign’s infamous South Carolina race memo (prepared before Bill Clinton made his dumb Jesse Jackson remark); the multiple “Harry and Louise” mailers distorting Clinton’s healthcare proposal; not to mention ties between Obama, Axelrod and the Exelon Corp., even as Obama is touting his lobbyist-free campaign. Nothing seems to stick to Obama; he’s Teflon.

This episode was worse than many but not entirely atypical: After his staff helped whip up a frenzy about Clinton’s remarks, Obama himself said he accepted Clinton’s statement that she had been misunderstood, and Axelrod tried to act gracious and insist that it’s time to move on. But the damage had been done. Obama has run a better campaign than Clinton, there’s no doubt about it, but he’s had a lot of help from a fawning media. (Here’s a great piece making a point I made months ago about how such coverage may ultimately hurt Obama.)

I’ll be on MSNBC’s “Hardball With Chris Matthews” today, debating this issue with talk show host and Obama supporter Joe Madison.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 13
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    DAYA  
    Young Daya has yet to become entirely jaded, but she has the character's trademark skeptical pout down pat. And with a piece-of-work mother like Aleida -- who oscillates between jealousy and scorn for her creatively gifted daughter, chucking out the artwork she brings home from summer camp -- who can blame her?

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    MORELLO   
    With her marriage to prison penpal Vince Muccio, Lorna finally got to wear the white veil she has fantasized about since childhood (even if it was made of toilet paper).

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CINDY   
    Cindy's embrace of Judaism makes sense when we see her childhood, lived under the fist of a terrifying father who preached a fire-and-brimstone version of Christianity. As she put it: "I was raised in a church where I was told to believe and pray. And if I was bad, I’d go to hell."

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CAPUTO   
    Joey Caputo has always tried to be a good guy, whether it's offering to fight a disabled wrestler at a high school wrestling event or giving up his musical ambitions to raise another man's child. But trying to be a nice guy never exactly worked out for him -- which might explain why he decides to take the selfish route in the Season 3 finale.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    BOO   
    In one of the season's more moving flashbacks, we see a young Boo -- who rejected the traditional trappings of femininity from a young age -- clashing with her mother over what to wear. Later, she makes the decision not to visit her mother on her deathbed if it means pretending to be something she's not. As she puts it, "I refuse to be invisible, Daddy. Not for you, not for Mom, not for anybody.”

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    SOSO
    We still don't know what landed Brooke Soso in the slammer, but a late-season flashback suggests that some seriously overbearing parenting may have been the impetus for her downward spiral.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    POUSSEY
    We already know a little about Poussey's relationship with her military father, but this season we saw a softer side of the spunky fan-favorite, who still pines for the loving mom that she lost too young.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    PENNSATUCKY
    Pennsatucky had something of a redemption arc this season, and glimpses of her childhood only serve to increase viewer sympathy for the character, whose mother forced her to chug Mountain Dew outside the Social Security Administration office and stripped her of her sexual agency before she was even old enough to comprehend it.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CHANG
    This season, we got an intense look at the teenage life of one of Litchfield's most isolated and underexplored inmates. Rebuffed and scorned by her suitor at an arranged marriage, the young Chinese immigrant stored up a grudge, and ultimately exacted a merciless revenge.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    HEALY
    It's difficult to sympathize with the racist, misogynist CO Sam Healy, but the snippets we get of his childhood -- raised by a mentally ill mother, vomited on by a homeless man he mistakes for Jesus when he runs to the church for help -- certainly help us understand him better.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    NORMA
    This season, we learned a lot about one of Litchfield's biggest enigmas, as we saw the roots of Norma's silence (a childhood stutter) and the reason for her incarceration (killing the oppressive cult leader she followed for decades).

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    NICKI
    While Nicki's mother certainly isn't entirely to blame for her daughter's struggles with addiction, an early childhood flashback -- of an adorable young Nicki being rebuffed on Mother's Day -- certainly helps us understand the roots of Nicki's scarred psyche.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>