The airwaves have been burning up lately with candidates and pundits referring to - or even advocating - the assassination of Barack Obama.
Before moving to analyze these statements, let’s recount the highlights of those remarks, in chronological order:
March 6, 2008: Hillary Clinton in an interview with Time magazine, responding to growing calls that she pull out of the race, said: "Primary contests used to last a lot longer. We all remember the great tragedy of Bobby Kennedy being assassinated in June in L.A."
May 16, 2008: Mike Huckabee, the GOP presidential born again and also-ran, upon hearing a loud offstage noise, quipped to the NRA in Kentucky: "That was Barack Obama. He's getting ready to speak, and somebody aimed a gun at him and he, he dove for the floor.”
A Buzzflash reader, commenting upon the Huckabee incident, expressed it elegantly:
"When Mike Huckabee joked that a loud sound at the NRA convention was Obama jumping at the sound of a gun, he wasn’t making a mindless gaffe, he was expressing nostalgia. Huckabee knew that the following day, he would force his way into consideration as Vice President, and understood that as a result, he’d be in the limelight again. Huckabee is not stupid, and when he raised the specter of a black man running from a white man’s gun, he understood his audience, their frustrations, their feelings about themselves."These men remember a happier time, those bygone days when people in this country knew their place, and if some uppity "nigra" forgot it, well, a shot or two fired into the air would make him remember very quickly. If a person of color decided to press one claim or another, the result would be very similar to the scene that Mike Huckabee "joked" about. Stand on the front porch, produce the firearm, and shoot it: Get off my property, get out of my business, stay away from my daughter. It was a lovely and simple way to solve a conflict, and back then, the government knew better than to prevent a man from defending what was rightfully his. What’s rightfully his?
"Well, [it’s] a man’s land, his family, and his right to own slaves. Less than 200 years ago, one-third of the South’s population was in chains, and with such ratios, guns were necessary. Guns were necessary in case the Chained Ones got uppity, in case they forgot who they were. In case one of them ran for President."
May 16, 2008: the cover of a mid-week Georgia newspaper, the Roswell Beacon, depicts Obama as seen through a rifle’s crosshairs.
May 23, 2008: Hillary Clinton repeats her RFK assassination reference while speaking to the Sioux Falls Argus Leader: "My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California."
Clinton’s repetitive reference to RFK’s killing came not long after she, her husband, and her campaign were collectively asserting that she was the Great White Hope and would draw the white vote in ways that Obama couldn’t.
Hillary could have said on both occasions that presidential primaries have sometimes gone on into June and after, and there would have been no one to contradict her.
Referencing RFK’s assassination over and over doesn’t, therefore, make sense except as a poorly concealed death wish for the one person standing in her way. Clinton’s attempt to rescue herself from that conclusion by claiming that she had Edward Kennedy on her mind at the time doesn’t, of course, explain her March reference to RFK’s death since her initial remarks were two months before Kennedy’s brain tumor was detected.
May 25, 2008: Wretched former Washington Times New York Bureau Chief and current FOX commentator, Liz Trotter, jokes on FOX: " And now we have what some are reading as a suggestion that somebody knock off Osama, uh Obama. Well, both, if we could."
Trotter, given a chance the next day to issue “a clarification,” passed off her oh-so-amusing reference to wanting Obama dead as a product of a “colorful presidential season.”
As in both meanings of sanguine: cheerfully optimistic and blood red?
What’s going on here?