It's Over: Clinton Won't be the Democratic Presidential or VP Candidate (and Boomers will make sure

Most of you reading this commentary will have heard what Hillary Clinton said this afternoon, May 23rd, to the editorial board of South Dakota's Sioux Falls Argus-Leader, in response to a question about staying in the race.  

"My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right?" she said. "We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California." The New York Times, May 24, 2008, Katharine Q Seelye reporting. itics/24clinton.html?_r=1&hp&ore f=slogin

And you May have heard Clinton's "apology," also reported by Seelye in the Times.

" `The Kennedys have been much on my mind the last days because of Senator Kennedy,' referring to the recent diagnosis of Senator Edward M. Kennedy's brain tumor. She added, `And 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.'"

Hillary's most consistent supporters have been folks over 50, especially women over 50.  With her statement about assassination, and her bizarre "apologetic" explanation (namely, I was thinking about Teddy and so I mentioned Bobby's assassination), she just lost a substantial number of these supporters.  I will not say all.  I will not say those closest to her.  But I will say, a very significant number. Most importantly, in terms of the race, many superdelegates in this age cohort, who may have been leaning her way, will be looking around for the nearest Exit sign.  Ditto for those who were in favor of placing her in the VP slot.  

Members of the Democratic Party who experienced the trauma of the assassinations of John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King will understand that Clinton crossed a line today.  Many will agree with Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, an uncommitted superdelegate.  Seelye reports that Clyburn "said through a spokeswoman that the comments were `beyond the pale.' " For those who remember Bobby lying in a pool of blood the night that he won the June California primary, little explanation is needed as to why prominent figures shouldn't mention the assassinations of presidential candidates.      

To say that Hillary was simply using RFK's assassination as a time marker doesn't cut it.  There are simply too many other ways that Hillary could have talked about extended nominating contests. For example, she could have simply said, RFK won the California primary in June.  "Oh, but Hillary would never wish the death of another candidate," a supporter might reply.  But it is not a question of her wishes, whether benighted or angelic. I leave it to the psychologists to analyze her motivations.  What I do know is that someone who lived through the sixties as an adolescent or adult should understand the dangers of invoking the assassination of a presidential candidate during a campaign, especially one in which the front-runner is an African-American.  And Clinton not only invoked an assassination, she invoked the assassination of the brother of a Senator who has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer. How disturbing is this?  Just ask yourself, could you have imagined this story before it happened?

Please don't tell me that her words can be explained away because of Hillary fatigue.  First, because she was quite lucid when she was speaking, and, second, because she has raised the issue of assassination before, without using the term.

"NBC/NJ's Mike Memoli notes that Clinton said something similar the day after the Indiana and North Carolina primaries. `Sometimes you gotta calm people down a little bit. But if you look at successful presidential campaigns, my husband did not get the nomination until June of 1992,' she said. `I remember tragically when Senator Kennedy won California near the end of that process.' " 008/05/23/1058940.aspx

Perhaps most tellingly, her "apology" showed little understanding of the seriousness of her "gaffe." Yes, she should have apologized to the Kennedys, but she should also have taken responsibility for her remarks and made a sincere apology to the American people.  She is going to lose support among influential boomers, support that she can't afford to lose at this point.

This is the end of Hillary's quest.  Her judgment can no longer be trusted. Democrats will not take a chance on running her for president or VP.  It is just awful that it had to end like this.

(As a side note, Hillary has been misleading audiences when she has claimed that Bill's race ran into June.  Technically it did because California hadn't voted. But he had the nomination sewed up before California's primary in June. The situation is not analogous to the current race.)

See also,  "The President, The Senator, and the Candidate"

Tags: African-American, Assassanation, Bobby Kennedy, boomers, Hillary, Hillary Clinton, obama, Presidential Race, superdelegates, VP (all tags)



Re: It's Over: Clinton Won't be the Democratic Pre

By the way, both the editor of the paper where she made the comment and Robert Kennedy Jr., son of RFK, said this is all bullshit.

by NY Writer 2008-05-23 09:46PM | 0 recs
Re: It's Over: Clinton Won't be the Democratic Pre

The statement from Argus Leader, the South Dakota Newspaper where Hillary Clinton made those remarks:

"The context of the question and answer with Sen. Clinton was whether her continued candidacy jeopardized party unity this close to the Democratic convention. Her reference to Mr. Kennedy's assassination appeared to focus on the time line of his primary candidacy and not the assassination itself"


This evening Robert Kennedy Jr. cautioned folks not to be offended at Clinton's mention of his father's assassination when discussing why she was staying in the race and how there was precedent for the primaries lasting until June.

In a statement, Kennedy Jr. said: "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 have heard her make this reference before, also citing her husband's 1992 race, both of which were hard fought through June. I understand how highly charged the atmosphere is, but I think it is a mistake for people to take offense." 2008/05/rfk-jr-says-no.html

by NY Writer 2008-05-23 09:47PM | 0 recs
Re: It's Over: Clinton Won't be the Democratic Pre

they are both being very, very kind and very, very gracious in trying to help her backpedal from an embarassing gaffe that she has repeated on four other occasions. It's nice of them to be gentlemanly enough to try and help her, unfortunately her comments speak pretty much for themselves... The backpedaling won't help much.

by Tatan 2008-05-23 10:07PM | 0 recs
Re: It's Over: Clinton Won't be the Democratic Pre

Won't help at all.

by catilinus 2008-05-24 12:01AM | 0 recs
Re: It's Over: Clinton Won't be the Democratic Pre

I think both you and the diarist are right. She wasn't saying that she was staying in in case something happened to Obama, she was referencing the fact that the '68 nomination was hard fought, and the '68 GE could have been won by Bobby Kennedy, if only ...

However, the diarist doesn't dispute that. Clinton said something that shouldn't be said. She violated a taboo. She accidentally stuck her thumb in an old wound of her core supporters and a big chunk of the SDs. If she were in a strong position in the nomination race, she could probably recover from it, although her non-apology was a further mis-step politically. She isn't in a strong position politically at the moment, she is utterly dependent on the good will of the super-delegates and the rules committee, so a bad gaffe (and this was a bad gaffe) is a disaster for her campaign.

Personally, I'm young enough that it took me a long time to realize that the Dead Kennedys was an extremely offensive band name to a lot of people, but I still feel that her statement was tasteless and a gaffe. This is not an election where it is okay to casually reference that sort of thing. We are all worried about it anyway.

by letterc 2008-05-23 09:59PM | 0 recs
Re: It's Over: Clinton Won't be the Democratic Pre

Very insightful post letterc.

by catilinus 2008-05-24 02:24AM | 0 recs
Re: It's Over: Clinton Won't be the Democratic Pre

Thanks! :)

by letterc 2008-05-24 02:39AM | 0 recs
Re: It's Over: Clinton Won't be the Democratic Pre

They actually said "bullshit?" Wow.  I saw a statement from RFK Jr. where he said he'd heard her mention this before and that he thought she was just trying to use a familiar political circumstance.  

But "bullshit" from both him and the paper?  Can you provide links where they described the reaction to the comments as "bullshit?"

by bosdcla14 2008-05-23 10:26PM | 0 recs
Let it go

The damage is already done....sadly clinton brought it on herself... she had to jump on EVERY SINGLE Obama gaffe/misspeak... you reap what you sow... bittergate has come full circle

and for the record both this and bittergate are ridiculous

by CaptainMorgan 2008-05-23 09:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Let it go

This is incredibly depressing.

I hope that there is something else that ends her campaign.

If it is this gaffe that is the final nail, it will be a bad one for the books.

I would like to say that I respect the Clinton machine enough to think this was political suicide, in that she didn't want the VP and manufactured this gaffe to guarntee that.

I don't know, I guess in the end this is what happens when you don't give up when its already over.

by CrushTheGOP2008 2008-05-23 10:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Let it go

I think she has an opportunity to end the campaign in a classy, admirable, dignified way, on her own terms.  If she keeps fighting in ways that don't look good, and ends this not looking good, that'll be disappointing.  I think it depends on how she wants to handle it, but that at this point she could do either one if she's as smart as I think.

by Matt Smith 2008-05-24 12:12AM | 0 recs
You're not helping your candidate, my friend. n/t

by sricki 2008-05-23 09:53PM | 0 recs
Re: You're not helping your candidate, my friend.


by canadian gal 2008-05-23 09:56PM | 0 recs

by SevenStrings 2008-05-23 09:59PM | 0 recs

by Sandy1938 2008-05-23 10:01PM | 0 recs

Oh wait, I was first... so I can't play. Damn!

by sricki 2008-05-23 10:05PM | 0 recs
Re: 5TH'D!!!

i just spit my drink out from laughing so hard.

by canadian gal 2008-05-23 10:09PM | 0 recs

No were supposed to say 6thed.

Now, play along, will you !!

by SevenStrings 2008-05-23 10:10PM | 0 recs
I'll SECOND that notion!!!!!!!

by Sandy1938 2008-05-23 10:15PM | 0 recs
Happily thirded! (Is that a real word?)

by sricki 2008-05-23 10:20PM | 0 recs
PIed or 3.14159ed!!

by SevenStrings 2008-05-23 10:24PM | 0 recs
7 th'd!

There, I've met canadian gal halfway -- now, if she'll say 8th'd, we'll be back on track!

by sricki 2008-05-23 10:18PM | 0 recs
Re: 8 1/.4

because sricki said so!

by CrushTheGOP2008 2008-05-23 10:21PM | 0 recs

Damn... fractions and decimals and stuff... why do you rich, genius Obama elitists always have to make things so hard?? You and your damn arugula!

by sricki 2008-05-23 10:26PM | 0 recs
Re: 10.7585th

by canadian gal 2008-05-23 11:31PM | 0 recs
Re: 9.017th'd
That's Numberwang! :)
by mechascorpio 2008-05-24 12:08AM | 0 recs
LOL, awesome.

by sricki 2008-05-24 12:12AM | 0 recs
Re: You're not helping your candidate, my friend.

I read this more as analysis than as advocacy.

It sucks that this is so damaging to her campaign, but I think it probably is. What she referenced is an old wound for a lot of people, and all of us live quietly in fear of it this year. That she didn't mean it the way some people are trying to read it doesn't mean that she didn't just commit a hideous gaffe, something she absolutely can't afford at this point.

She violated a serious taboo, and that isn't something you want to do when you are as much on the ropes as her campaign is.

by letterc 2008-05-23 10:03PM | 0 recs
Oh, it is not damaging to her campaign...

It is damaging to his campaign.

Her campaign (for Presidency) ended in NC.  She is now fighting for something else... I am not sure what it is (and its not for the VP slot either).

The only real damage done today was to Sen. Obama's campaign ~ he has probably lost about 10% of the Hillary vote for good today !!

Somewhere. Sen. McCain is smiling like a giddy teenager !!

by SevenStrings 2008-05-23 10:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Oh, it is not damaging to her campaign...

Why would a Clinton gaffe, on which Obama hasn't commented, but one of his campaign staff strongly publicly defended her, cause Clinton supporters to vow never to support Obama? That really makes no sense to me.

Her campaign wasn't over after NC, although her chance of winning went down to vanishingly small. Her campaign isn't really over until she says it's over, but it will be if she sheds a large number of SDs.

by letterc 2008-05-23 10:25PM | 0 recs
Re: Oh, it is not damaging to her campaign...

they are losing it, it;s that simple

by obamaovermccain 2008-05-23 10:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Oh, it is not damaging to her campaign...

Eh, the hard-core Clinton supporters on mydd represent no one but themselves. The same can be said for many of the Obama supporters here. A lot of the outrage expressed today is... not faux outrage, just bullshit.

Like the unreasonable Clinton supporters, most of the unreasonable Obama supporters are actually outraged, but they are more outraged because they have an opening to express outrage at Clinton than because what Clinton did was truly so horrible.

by letterc 2008-05-23 11:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Oh, it is not damaging to her campaign...

First, his campaign did comment on it: a pile on move, I should say.

Second, from what I hear, KO and other media types are not doing any favors to your candidate by implying that Clinton wants Obama dead.  Many of us find those suggestions very offensive.

After this, dont be surprised if a large contingent of the Hillary vote decides to sit at home, or even vote for McCain in the fall.

by SevenStrings 2008-05-23 10:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Oh, it is not damaging to her campaign...

One of Obama's high ranking proxies commented on it to defend her. I expect if it continues for a while more, then Obama will probably defend her as well.

I think the "Clinton supporters are going to sit this one out, because someone somewhere said something mean about Clinton" meme is way overblown. I think most people are smarter than that, and realize that elections are actually something that matters. Most of us remember how we got into the mess of the last 8 years, and not taking the decision of who should be president seriously was a big part of it.

Also, Obama isn't really "my candidate," except to the extent that he is going to be the Democratic nominee, and I'll be supporting the Democratic nominee, whoever she may be. Kucinich was more my speed. I was sad he wasn't on the ballot in Oregon, so I could have voted straight ticket losing left wingers.

by letterc 2008-05-23 11:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Oh, it is not damaging to her campaign...

Perhaps you didn't read the recommended "Axelrod defended Hillary" diary...

by LordMike 2008-05-23 11:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Oh, it is not damaging to her campaign...

WTF?  Your candidate said something stupid, and you blame OBAMA?  Or worse yet, the media (which is somehow an extension of Obama?)

I guess the Chinese earthquake was Obama's fault, too!

Place the blame where it's due, on hillary's campaign... They blew it and refused to apologize for it...

Obama's surrogates and probably Obama himself soon will be defending her to kingdom come...  but, that won't be good enough for you, will it?

by LordMike 2008-05-23 11:15PM | 0 recs
Re: Oh, it is not damaging to her campaign...

Nobody said anything implying that Clinton wants Obama dead. Not K.O.

You are a liar.

by Lefty Coaster 2008-05-23 11:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Oh, it is not damaging to her campaign...

I don't deny that Olbermann was royally pissed today.  It seemed a bit over dramatic and hyperbolic at times in his special comment.

However, he never implied that Clinton wished anyone any harm.  Just chastised her thoroughly for her utter lack of tact and then her non-apology for a really unfortunate and painful comment.

by masterxi43 2008-05-24 02:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Oh, it is not damaging to her campaign...

"After this, dont be surprised if a large contingent of the Hillary vote decides to sit at home, or even vote for McCain in the fall."

"After this?"

That statement no longer has the same effect on a reader who has read it posted by others 100s of times since Iowa.

And there was no pile on from the Obama campaign.
I doubt there will be one. I won't, though, be surprised to see SDs pile on in the coming week.

by catilinus 2008-05-24 02:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Oh, it is not damaging to her campaign...

"First, his campaign did comment on it"

Yeah, they called it "unfortunate". How rude of them.

For months now they are treating Hillary with kid gloves.

"After this, dont be surprised if a large contingent of the Hillary vote decides to sit at home, or even vote for McCain in the fall."

Interesting. That means we have to wonder if that's exactly the reaction Hillary wanted. (The Clintons are always about the drama, ofcourse whether it's for them or against them as long as they're always on the center of attention.)

But if you're referring to yourself as one of those voters, then I have to say puh-lease. You're not fooling anyone. You will either vote for Obama, or you never planned to vote for him anyway. This event will do nothing to change your mind either way, and you know it.

by Aris Katsaris 2008-05-24 09:02AM | 0 recs
The Truth Will Set You Free

by Lefty Coaster 2008-05-23 11:18PM | 0 recs
You're still not helping him. n/t

by sricki 2008-05-23 11:20PM | 0 recs
Clinton screwed up

yet you are mad at Obama. That makes no sense.

by Lefty Coaster 2008-05-23 11:33PM | 0 recs
Check yourself, pal.

I haven't once said I was mad at Obama. I support Hillary, but I'm not exactly like every other Clinton supporter on this site. Believe it or not, we all have minds. We're capable of thinking for ourselves and even -- *gasp* -- capable of disagreeing with each other! Diversity of thought, oh my!

Yeah. She screwed up -- big time. But not in the malicious way many Obama supporters think. And there's no reason to be angry at him -- he had nothing to do with any of it.

Now, then... in what way do you think your undue contentiousness is beneficial to your candidate, who is, admittedly, our nominee?

by sricki 2008-05-23 11:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Check yourself, pal.

Thank you for pointing out what shouldn't need pointing out, but does. All Clinton & Obama supporters aren't cut from the same mold, not even the ranters.

by catilinus 2008-05-24 02:36AM | 0 recs
True. And yes, we even have a very

diverse spectrum of ranters here. Scary stuff.

by sricki 2008-05-24 01:04PM | 0 recs
Obama manufactured this outrage to

say she's disqualified from consideration for VP. It's obvious.

by observer5 2008-05-23 09:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama manufactured this outrage to

It is a sign of the sad state of mydd that I have no idea whether this is snark, and I have no idea whether the person who mojo'd you for it thought it was snark.

by letterc 2008-05-23 10:04PM | 0 recs
Nobdy needed to manufacture anything.

To disqualify Hillary from being VP.  She did it herself, when she voted for the Iraq AUMF and refused afterwards to apologize for the error.

by tbetz 2008-05-24 06:13AM | 0 recs
You do realize this is exactly what the

corporate owned media wants right???????   Democrats fighting with each other instead of fighting GOP.  That's the only way they can win in November, is if we are not united.  

by Sandy1938 2008-05-23 10:03PM | 0 recs
Re: You do realize this is exactly what the

That's why so many of us are anxious for the nomination fight to be over already.  This competition is polarizing the party, which is the nature of a competition.  Neither our candidates, their campaigns, nor the supporters can be expected to both compete and be unified at the same time - at least, judging from their/our actions.

by Matt Smith 2008-05-24 12:15AM | 0 recs

haha I love how this is Obama's fault.  After all he telepathically made Hillary's mouth move and made her say dumb stuff.

Hillary supporters are losing it, you guys need a vacation.

by obamaovermccain 2008-05-23 10:22PM | 0 recs
Actually after the supers start moving

..they are going to need a Prozac the size of a basketball :)

by xenontab 2008-05-23 10:56PM | 0 recs
Re: It's Over: Clinton Won't be the Democratic Pre

Clinton fucked up, big time.  If she was trying to make a point about primaries lasting into June, that's fine.  She can stop right there and the point will be taken: "1968 primaries went to June."  The end.

Dragging RFK's assassination into the rhetoric is totally uncalled for, not just in the context of people fearing for Obama's life, but also since RFK's own brother just learned he is suffering from a possibly terminal illness.

Hillary, you are finished.  Sit down and shut up.

by 08AMA 2008-05-23 11:11PM | 0 recs
Yes It's Over
I came to the same conclusion in my earlier diary:
Hillary doesn't realize it yet, but she ended her Campaign today
by Lefty Coaster 2008-05-23 11:14PM | 0 recs
Re: It's Over: Clinton Won't be the Democratic Pre

It is a gaffe. She didn't mean to say what she actually said. But it is a pretty horrible one. And she messed up her apologies too.

The Obama campaign has responded appropriately.

Those Clinton supporters who would be pissed off in any case are pissed of. There are very few of them.
Most Clinton supporters acknowledge that she was wrong on this.

What this all proves is that this prolonged fight is counterproductive. There is no point in her going on like this. Let the last primaries take place but let her stop arguing her case. She has lost, she's floundering in a spiral of negativity and she's projecting it all over the place.

At this stage the only thing she could hope to achieve is
securing McCain's victory in November.

by french imp 2008-05-24 01:55AM | 0 recs
"It's the psychopathology, stupid."

by vegemighty 2008-05-24 04:27AM | 0 recs
Its all stuff & nonsense

It was a misguided remark, not a conspiracy statement. Nothing more.  

Obama supporters reading more into it and trying to get some righteous indignation mileage out of it about it are squealing and behaving like opportunistic shrill eunuchs.  I find it disingenuous for them to get all incensed over this comment while their candidate was, for 20 years, in the good company and close circle of a pastor who spewed hatred and bitterness, only to take weeks to finally disown the relationship.  20 years versus a couple of seconds...

This will mean nothing in the end.  

Hillary has weathered her husband's infidelity and impeachment before a global stage. (remember when he supposedly didn't have the moral authority to be president?) Compared to that drama, this remark is a faux pas - nothing more.  It even won't be a footnote in history books.

And Obama knows this.  He's a politician and no saint.  Her support is still there and her political position from this nomination process is still there.  Her argument for VP is still there.  Its not going away, nor has it diminished. And try hard as they might to dissuade him, her position of strength, his need of her, and his knowing of his need for her drives all his supporters crazy.  But they are powerless to do anything about it.

Shrill eunuchs.

by dcrolg 2008-05-24 04:32AM | 0 recs
Re: It's Over

 Thank you, Hillary, for sticking the fork in yourself.

by xdem 2008-05-24 05:04AM | 0 recs
Thanks for your diary...

after all, I never would have known that Hillary made these comments!!!

by nikkid 2008-05-24 07:32AM | 0 recs
Re: It's Over: Clinton Won't be the Democratic Pre

It's so amusing that the Obama people keep saying "it's over" and they keep demanding Clinton to "get out" yet she is still here and the Obama people are still nervous.

If it were truly "over" and Clinton has no chance then why all the angst?  Your guy has it locked up, huh?  

What are you all so worried about?

by wblynch 2008-05-24 10:02AM | 0 recs


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