Why I Can't Stop Criticizing Hillary, yet (although I wish I could)

Trying to do my small part to help begin to unify the Democratic Party, I had promised myself that I would halt criticism of Clinton in print and on the Web. There is, after all, so much to be said about McCain and Co. But this evening I find myself unable to carry through on this pledge. There are two significant reasons.

First, I have grown increasingly concerned that Senator Clinton's continual references to the so-called popular vote may end up damaging Senator Obama's candidacy. It has the potential to do so by delegitimizing his victory, that is, by making it appear that he didn't win the nomination cleanly because more people voted for Hillary. Certainly Clinton is entitled to remain in the race through all of the caucuses and primaries, and if she must, until the convention. However, even though it is clear that Obama's (increasing) delegate lead will give him the nomination, the Clintons have continued to appeal to the notion that she is entitled to it because she has won more votes. It's of course not evident that she has won more votes, except according to the most contrived mathematical formulas (e.g., leaving Obama without any votes in Michigan). But on a more basic level, the national popular vote is a myth, or I should say, a mythical beast. It is a chimera. You cannot generate a national popular vote from contests that have included caucuses (which cannot produce nearly as many votes as primaries), contests that have permitted independents to vote, as well as states that have permitted Republican crossovers, etc. It isn't necessary for the Clintons to make the popular vote argument to see the election through to the end, which is one of Hillary's proclaimed reasons for staying in the race. The argument is shortsighted if you care about a Democratic victory in November. One can only speculate as to why the Clintons have chosen this course, but it isn't for the good of the Party.

The second reason can be called the anti-mensch factor. Instead of stepping up to the plate and taking responsibility for her comments regarding RFK's assassination, Hillary has come up with two lame strategies and one despicable one for explaining them away. The lame strategies involve trying to justify her comments by saying that 1) Teddy Kennedy had been on her mind, and 2) all she had meant to do was suggest a time line for long campaigns. I won't comment on the first, except to say that her comments were a strange way to reveal caring and concern. Regarding the second, the time line argument simply doesn't hold up. There is absolutely no reason why Bobby Kennedy's assassination needed to be invoked as a marker. There are many other ways to talk about extended nominating contests. And if for some reason she had wanted to mention Bobby, all she had to do was say that he won the California primary in June. (This is not to say that she wasn't thinking about a time line. The issue is about the role of the marker, RFK's assassination, that she chose to use.)

But now I come to the despicable reason. Zachary A. Goldfarb reported on May 25th, in The Washington Post, the following. "Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign accused Sen. Barack Obama's campaign of fanning a controversy over her describing the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy late in the 1968 Democratic primary as one reason she is continuing to run for the presidency. `The Obama campaign ... tried to take these words out of context,' Clinton campaign chairman Terence R. McAuliffe said on `Fox News Sunday.' `She was making a point merely about the time line.'"http://blog.washingtonpost.com/the-talk/ 2008/05/clinton_camp_stokes_rfk_flap_b.h tml?nav=rss_email/components

As noted, the time line argument doesn't work. And it is virtually inconceivable that some very bright Clinton people do not understand the flaw in their own argument. It's just too obvious. So it is disingenuous for Clinton to claim that Obama took her words out of context if her own claim about `the context' is justifiably suspect. Further, the reaction to Hillary's words were viral. They were all over the web within hours if not minutes. In addition, you had papers like The Daily News and The New York Post running banner headlines about Hillary's "killer gaffe." McAuliffe's words were meant to suggest that the Obama people were somehow responsible for the "attacks" on Hillary. It is inconceivable that the Obama organization, even if it had wanted to fan the flames, could have been so successful. There was genuine outrage. I can tell you as someone who lived through the assassinations of the sixties, the outrage was totally comprehensible. It didn't need any "fanning" from the Obama organization.

But there is more.

According to Goldfarb, "Asked if Clinton has personally called Obama to apologize for the reference, McAuliffe said she has not, `nor should she.' He added, `Let's be clear. This had nothing to with Senator Obama or his campaign.'"

Obama, the first African-American candidate with a real chance of winning the White House, has had to receive secret service protection since last May, long before the other candidates (excepting Hillary as the spouse of a former President). This protection is necessary due to a very real concern, namely, that someone might try to shoot and kill him. As a black American he is uniquely vulnerable. And the Clinton campaign can't see a reason for a phone call. Why? Because of how they read the politics: if we apologize, then we admit that she may have done or said something wrong. Political calculation trumps basic decency. (The irony, of course, is that they have the politics wrong. How they are handling this will cost them support, especially among Boomers who lived through the sixties.)

As a final note, I watched HBO's new movie, "Recount," this evening. I have heard that Hillary has already noted that the movie supports her claims about Florida and Michigan. Nonsense on stilts. The situations are totally different, and a slogan such as, "count all the votes," had a totally different meaning in Florida in 2000 than it does in Michigan and Florida in 2008. But right now I am just hoping that I don't feel compelled to write something more about Hillary Clinton.

For more on the campaigns, http://msa4.wordpress.com/

Tags: African-American, assassination, Bill Clinton, Bobby Kennedy, boomers, Clintons, Democratic Party, Hillary, Hillary Clinton, obama, Presidential Race, superdelegates (all tags)



no offense...but this diary is nonsense on stilts.

by canadian gal 2008-05-26 12:57PM | 0 recs
Re: no offense...but this diary is nonsense on sti

just another troll diary

by zerosumgame 2008-05-26 12:59PM | 0 recs
Re: no offense...but this diary is nonsense on sti

Why is it OK for you to diary your opinions and feelings but when an Obama supporter tries to do the same you always fuck with their  position??  I mean you are always talking about fairness, but when someone tries to explain why the feel the way many people feel, you kick it to curb as if it ignoring or demeaning it will make it go away...You feelings are no more genuine than anybody else.

by hootie4170 2008-05-26 01:03PM | 0 recs
hold the boat!

when diarists (and i use this term loosely) come here and suggest criticism and hate towards BO, the diaries get spammed and mocked by BO supporters - and in some cases they are justified in doing so.

what does this dairy accomplish other than to rile HRC people up?  or become a BO supporter trash-fest?

this author is certainly entitled to their opinion, but that does not make it a valid or productive diary.  my 2 cents.

by canadian gal 2008-05-26 01:11PM | 0 recs
Looking at your recs...

I note that you seem find diaries that express opinions opposite to the ones here to be "valid and productive".  But when all is said and done - they're just opinions.

by Virginia Liberal 2008-05-26 01:25PM | 0 recs

problem is - there is another diary right now that talks about sexism in the media and its being spammed as we speak which imo actually has a valid point to make rather than just negativity for its own sake.

by canadian gal 2008-05-26 01:27PM | 0 recs
Re: agreed.

Spamming - from either side and either view point - most certainly sucks - I couldn't agree with you more...

But I don't think that makes the point of this diary unproductive and invalid.   It wasn't vitriolic.   And it made some good points in the process.

by Virginia Liberal 2008-05-26 01:31PM | 0 recs
this diary is nonsense on stilts.

ooooh faaacts! They burn!

by Tommy Flanagan 2008-05-26 01:18PM | 0 recs
Au contraire. This diary is quite troll-ish.

Anyone giving credence to HRC's comments, forcing them out of context to support their claims--which run counter to comments by the daily newspaper's editorial board where she made those comments as well as to RFK, Jr.--is nothing but a troll IMHO.

This is the focus of the diarist's rants. And, rants they are. Period.

by bobswern 2008-05-26 03:46PM | 0 recs

Presenting matters out of context is nothing short of distortion and misrepresentation. And, that very much burns.

But, don't let the distortions get in the way of you presenting them as facts!

by bobswern 2008-05-26 03:51PM | 0 recs
Very well. Your disgust is well noted.

And when she endorses and begins campaigning for your candidate, will you make a better effort to control your anger?

by sricki 2008-05-26 12:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Very well. Your disgust is well noted.

LOL!, I want the valium concession around here WHEN that happens.  

by ReillyDiefenbach 2008-05-26 01:08PM | 0 recs

Statement from Robert Kennedy Jr.

Robert Kennedy Jr. issued the following statement this evening:

"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."

by zcflint05 2008-05-26 12:59PM | 0 recs
Re: Okay...

In all fairness, he was a declared supporter of Senator Clinton.  I would have been highly shocked if he had said anything else.

by Reaper0Bot0 2008-05-26 02:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Okay...

Well, for some reason, I think that your father would take precedence over a political endorsement any day of the week. Let's get real here.

by zcflint05 2008-05-26 03:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Okay...

I am being real.  First off, the implication (or if you prefer, the common inference, which places agency in the listener and not the speaker, Senator Clinton) was that Obama would be assassinated.  RFK was only used as a marker, in this inference.  The Kennedyes have, frankly, less reason to be offended.

You may not agree with that, but frankly you don't have to.  RFK saying what he said is great and all, and I don't doubt that he means what he says, but his perspective is, as anyone's is, skewed by his preexisting political views and alliances.

There's nothing wrong with that, but frankly his statement didn't change my views much.  I didn't think Senator Clinton was asking for someone to off Obama, and I don't think that she's staying in the race in the hope that somebody does.

I do think the though has crossed her mind, however.  Even that, though, isn't the point.  People were offended.  Senator Clinton is being very, very tonedeaf to that fact, or is calculating that the offense is only taken by people who don't support her.  Therefore she can buck it.

I honestly don't know how it plays, if indeed it does.

by Reaper0Bot0 2008-05-26 04:00PM | 0 recs
Concerning your concern

noted.  Why do I feel diaries like this are really just the basis for excuse in the event that Obama ends up doing poorly as the nominee?  Really, is global warming now Hillary's fault too?  It was obviously Hillary that caused that earthquake in China, its been in the works for years now.  Those tornados- Hillary too, she was getting back at those damn caucus states for propping up Obama.

by linc 2008-05-26 01:00PM | 0 recs
Re: Concerning your concern

A diary like this is to express frustration and anger at Clinton's very disrespectful conduct towards Obama during the course of the campaign.  

The furor over her remarks was created by her own incendiary, careless, and foolish remarks.  Obama's campaign has not sought to use her gaffe as a campaign tool, in some part because Obama doesn't want this issue of assassination to become a major issue.  Obama's campaign has not created buttons to exploit the issue nor will the campaign start putting out ads and talking points trashing Clinton for making the statement.  

by ProfessorReo 2008-05-26 02:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Why I Can't Stop Criticizing Hillary, yet (al

You dumb fool, she had used the same example in the past, it was not against Obama it was her justification and citing previous examples of what had occured in 1968 where there was a long drawn out primary. If you had bothered to look at the interview or the transcript you would have seen that. Good luck in the GE, this isnt Venezuela, this is America.  

by bsavage 2008-05-26 01:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Why I Can't Stop Criticizing Hillary, yet (al

I don't usually reply to comments about my diaries, but calling names is an obvious sign that you haven't bothered to pay attention to the arguments being made. Of course I know what Hillary's camp has claimed.  The question on the table is the plausibility of their claims.  Further, even if she had not been thinking about Obama, not even in the deepest recesses of her unconscious, a decent response would have been a phone call, especially for someone interested in uniting the Party.

I notice also that you say nothing about Hillary's specious claims about the so-called popular vote.  Misleading the public for personal gain is not acceptable, even though it is commonplace.

In general, it would be nice if we could left the discourse up a bit and answer reasonable arguments with counterarguments.  

by Mitchell A 2008-05-26 01:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Why I Can't Stop Criticizing Hillary, yet (al

HR for personal attack.

by Virginia Liberal 2008-05-26 01:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Why I Can't Stop Criticizing Hillary, yet (al

Oh yay, more narcissistic preciousness about Obama.

Look, you'd be more convincing if you laid off the legalistic way of looking at the thing.  Let the chips fall as they may, and stop making accusations and excuses.

Obama may or may not be the nominee.  If he does get it, the fact is that Clinton will be in waiting for 2012, because the coalition and mandate he has assembled is Carteresque.  It's good looking, will dispel the odor of Bush/Cheney and do some fixes, but it's not wide or wise enough and too centrist for real change.

by killjoy 2008-05-26 01:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Why I Can't Stop

So some here say he's too leftist.  You say he's too centrist.

He can't win for losing here, now can he?

by Reaper0Bot0 2008-05-26 02:15PM | 0 recs
Re: Why I Can't Stop Criticizing Hillary, yet (al

If he's so centrist, why are all the elitist, latte sipping San Francisco liberals voting for him and not for Clinton?  

by ProfessorReo 2008-05-26 02:23PM | 0 recs
Re: Why I Can't Stop Criticizing Hillary, yet (al

Excellent diary.  I agree, the "timeline" interpretation makes absolutely no sense.

The question that Clinton was trying to answer is why she is continuing to campaign even though she has no chance of winning.

If she had said, "RFK campaigned into June in 1968,"  that would have been consistent with her timeline defense.  Here, it would be clear that she's comparing herself to RFK, and saying she's doing the same thing he did.

But, instead, she invoked RFK's assassination, something RFK had obviously no control over.  And yes, she noted that the assassination occurred in June.  

But, please, tell me this: what does the fact that a democratic candidate for presidency was assassinated in June, 1968, have anything to do with Clinton's reasons for continuing her campaign even though she's lost?  

by ProfessorReo 2008-05-26 02:15PM | 0 recs
Re: Why I Can't Stop

of course he fanned it.  Usually when he does that it means he's got something to hide that's coming up, but she'd made the remark earlier, so they were probably trying to save it to leak before PR, they are nothing if not predictable. Remember when she first got slimed for Novak reporting that she planned to go negative and his campaign got hairs up their butts? She hadn't, she didn't, but Wright was coming and he wanted to blame it on her, is what I think.  He jumps on whatever he can, makes up what it means and manufacturers outrage. This was a bridge too far, Axelrod got outed on George S's, show, he'd sent that over the top KO rant to each and every newsperson and one of them was George. Axlerod said he wasn't fanning it, and George asked him why he'd sent out emails of KO's rant, and Alxerod then said now it's behind us.  First fan, then deny, then say it's over now, let's move on?  

This has been a negative campaign by him against her from the start.  If any of you guys want to know why some of us are pissed, the proof lies in the KO rant that was so appreciated by Obama it was sent out to all newspersons so all could appreciate how evil is Hillary.  

He can't get any more support from Hillary haters, he's tapped out that group.  Demonizing her isn't going to win the GE for him. Actually I think now that he's so damaged goods, thanks to Axelrod, that there is little chance of him winning the GE.   He picked the low road and the longer this goes on, the more obvious it becomes.

So go ahead, keep criticizing Hillary, it won't help Barack, but Barack doesn't want you to stop, he seems to want his supporters to drive her supporters away, so, go for it?  Whoever started that rumor about paid charm bloggers sure got it wrong.  

by anna shane 2008-05-26 03:42PM | 0 recs
The media's been a willing participant...

...in what can be described as nothing less than the Foxification of our election process.

It is a travesty. And, looking back, if there's anyone to blame for this travesty this year, it's going to be the media that provided material assistance to this effort, across the board.

When the editorial board--WHERE SHE WAS SPEAKING--and RFK's son both come out in her defense, it's no longer news. It's fact: there's nothing there.

When Axelrod makes statements two hours into the matter supporting Clinton, only to broadcast email the KO meme, IMHO, the guy's credibility (which was shot from the get-go, again, IMHO) is nothing short of whore-ish. Axelrod has no credibility whatsoever. He's nothing short of the personification of the prostitute that he is. And, if the press continue to listen to him after this, the only place they should be working is in one of Rupert Murdoch's properties.

It is a truly sad day for the media in this country right now. Pa-freakin'-thetic.

by bobswern 2008-05-26 04:01PM | 0 recs


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