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2008-05-27 10:45 AM
Why Offense was Taken, or, "Never use the "A," Word"
I've heard both sides of the argument over Senator Clinton's Bobby Kennedy remark now, and the one thing that strikes me is the fact that so many people can't honestly understand why such offense was taken.
And while I understand that in almost any other situation, or with almost any other candidate, this wouldn't have been as big an issue. But the fact remains--and understand me now, I don't want to believe that Hillary MEANT it this way--is that when you speak you need to understand the full effects of your words, intended or otherwise.
We have two historic candidates in this Democratic nomination process; one a woman, one a man of mixed Caucasian-African descent.
The argument has been presented that Senator Clinton was only quoting historical reference as to the fact that this nomination process is not dragging on longer than others have in the past. There are two problems with this argument: The first is that should you look backward to the first reference--the 1992 campaign of her husband--you would see that few people had any doubt that the campaign was wrapped up far earlier. On Aril 7th of that year, George Stephanopolous, who was working for the Clinton campaign at that time stated quite aptly that it was, "mathematically impossible for Brown to get the nomination," and further, "So, lightning would have to strike," in order for Bill Clinton to lose the nomination.
The second reference, the much more troublesome one, is inaccurate as well. Bobby Kennedy had only entered the race six weeks prior to an insane radical taking his life in June. So to simply state that, "Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June," is to compare a six week campaign with a sixteen-month campaign.
So historically, the precedent doesn't stand up. Hillary Clinton is a smart, capable person who has done much for the Democratic party and the people of America. I understand that spin is a part of every election, and politics as a whole, but one must realize and take into account many other factors so that spin doesn't have unintended consequences.
There isn't a single person who hasn't watched this campaign that hasn't had unnerving flashes of worry over Senator Obama's safety. If they haven't, they're either living in a fantasy world in which people of color weren't hung from trees in our so-called, "enlightened," country (and as recently as either of the above historical references made) or they're just being obtuse. Senator Obama had Secret Service protection far earlier than the other candidates--except Senator Clinton, whose ongoing protection as a former First Lady never ended--due to a number of specific, credible threats to his well-being.
By even mentioning the word, "assassination," one plays the part of the ghost of Hamlet's father. It's poison in the ear; to the more mentally deranged, it's a call to action.
Is it Clinton's fault that people in this country could hear her innocuous comments as a call to arms? No. Should she be more responsible, particularly when the argument was historically flawed to begin with? Yes.
And should her campaign then accuse the dust-up as being a product of Obama's campaign, admitting no fault for her words and offering no apology to the only person whose safety was jeapordized by her comments?
To tell the truth, that's the part that upsets me the most. She refuses to acknowledge that she did anything wrong, which is typical of the most aggravating form of non-apology of which I know.
And that is this: "I regret that my words caused you any emotional distress." In other words, I don't apologize, because you're the one who took it that way. I have nothing to be sorry for.
Yes, Mrs. Clinton, an apology is in order. To Mr. Obama, and to the American people.
Don't use the A-word. It isn't necessary, it isn't accurate, and it is dangerous.
Joseph Haines, signing off from The Edge of the Abyss.
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