Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Hillary's Context

Was Hillary’s reference to RFK’s Assassination taken out of context?

According to Hillary’s supporters, the context was Democratic campaigns that have not been decided until the month of June. Is that what the assassination of Bobby Kennedy conjures up in most people’s minds though? I was only eleven in June of 1968 and I must confess that I don’t know how the delegate count stood after that California primary. Was Bobby Kennedy still a long shot after his victory? Was he neck and neck with Humphrey? Was he a prohibitive favorite? How many people think of Bobby Kennedy’s death in terms of how the race for the nomination stood at that point? I suspect that the only thing Bobby Kennedy’s assassination conjures up for younger Americans is the image of a charismatic and inspiring candidate who was gunned down in the prime of his life.

Last night on Hardball, Joan Walsh of took offense to the following statement: “Senator Hillary Clinton referred Friday to the assassination of Robert Kennedy in the 1968 campaign as a reason should she should continue to campaign despite the long odds.” Said Walsh:
That was wrong. She was not using the Kennedy assassination as the reason
she was staying in. She was making the point that people have campaigned
before into June. Jerry Brown did it and Bobby Kennedy did it. That
was her point. It has been deliberately misconstrued and it’s is quite

I guess we need to get into some sort of Clintonesque parsing of the definition of the word “reason.” As I see it, Hillary was explaining why she was staying in the race and she cited the fact that Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June. That makes Kennedy’s assassination a “reason” for her to stay in the race. Walsh may reasonably assert that people have misunderstood why Hillary thinks it constitutes a reason, but I don’t see how you argue that the answer to a question that begins with the word “why” is anything other than a “reason.”

I am willing to give Hillary the benefit of the doubt on her intentions, but I am offended by her attempts to portray herself as the victim just because people interpreted a ghoulish and inappropriate comment as ghoulish and inappropriate.

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