Let’s dispense with the silly stuff straight away. Hillary Clinton did not intend to suggest she was staying in the race just in case Obama was assassinated. Of course, just mentioning the assassination of RFK or any other popular figure in the context of staying in the race is creepy, and the timing as far as current unfortunate news for the Kennedy family is about as bad as it gets but we can give Hillary a pass on all of that. What is really going to do in Senator Clinton, and John McCain is the fact that they gave their stamp of approval for the use of gotcha politics and guilt by association and other sleazy tactics in this current race for the White House.
Both Hillary Clinton and John McCain have a lot more skeletons in their closet than Barack Obama. Both have said and continue to say more silly or crazy things than Obama does/has. Both Hillary and McCain have more serious personal issues than Obama has. Hillary has a serial problem with the truth and that is about as nice as I can put it, while McCain has a temper like a super volcano and his outbursts remind me of descriptions of the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa (the island volcano blew itself apart and in so doing generated the loudest sound in historical record, reportedly being heard over 3000 miles away). Their big hope against Barack was to keep the race focused on the issues and perhaps finesse him on some of the finer points of policymaking. Since both McCain and Hillary have championed policies or made votes that turned out to be unmitigated disasters, they would lose that kind of a race too, but they had a better chance of keeping it from being a complete blowout if they focused on the issues.
That is not what Hillary and McCain have chosen to do. They have fed the media a diet of scandal and innuendo and kept feeding it to the point where it has become a monster that will consume them both. Hillary and her campaign knew better about Obama’s bitter statement. They know he did not mean what Hillary and her surrogates told voters in West Virginia and Pennsylvania as well as other places. Now, this assassination misstatement is going to be an ugly epilogue (some might say epitaph) to one of the worst managed Presidential campaigns in history. McCain and his campaign knew very well that having a crazy pastor around doesn’t reflect at all who Barack Obama is. Now, McCain has a pastor that has demonized Catholics and made inflammatory remarks regarding Nazism being part of God’s plan for Jews and the press is just starting to go over the public record of his temper tantrums. Hillary has been hoisted by her own petard and McCain will enjoy the same fate.
The worst part about gotcha politics and guilt by association is that for however many news cycles one of those incidents dominates the news, the public loses that time to get to know how the candidates would govern. Any politician, group or ordinary person that tries to get the press to spend time on these distractions is doing the entire country a huge disservice. Whether Al Gore did or didn’t invent the internet, how Michael Dukakis looked in a tank and whether George H. W. Bush looked at his watch during a debate did not contribute to better decision-making by voters, just the opposite. It is an insult to the voters’ intelligence and a waste of their time. Voters should not forget how much of an insult this is. Voters should also remember that when one candidate uses these tactics against another it means that the attacking candidate believes they cannot win on the issues and their policy proposals.