Discourse and Assassination: McCain/Clinton vs Obama

Hillary Clinton’s assassination quote is far more problematic than I originally thought.

Frankly I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt in the light of what I felt where more serious offenses, but I think I was wrong to do so. Kevin noticed some interesting trends in terms of how people responded to her quote:

At the primarily white blogs, there is much debate over whether or not what she has said is offensive (I won’t bother repeating it here since it’s been posted everywhere) and yet when you look at black bloggers, and other bloggers of color, there is an almost unanimous agreement that her remarks were reprehensible. I also noticed that in the links being provided by blog authors and commentators at the primarily white blogs, to support their agreement or disagreement with the offensiveness of Sen. Clinton’s statements, all are to other primarily white blogs and white bloggers. I find this problematic because I’ve seen a lot of comments on these blogs to the effect of “anyone who thinks that her statement was truly offensive is paranoid, a nut case, delusional, incapable of rational thought, etc,” and this leads me to think that a lot of people just aren’t taking into consideration, let alone even reading and listening to the black and other bloggers of color that Clinton’s statement has affected not only on a political level, but on a deeply personal level.

As I was writing a comment, I saw something I hadn’t seen before. In spite of whether or not her quote had ill intention behind it, or whether she was referring to herself or Obama as RFK, her comment has helped push the idea of assassination further into mainstream discourse. Fox is apparently making cracks along the same lines (although they are decidedly more “fringe” in terms of content, in terms of reach they are effectively mainstream).

The other problem with Clinton’s remark is that it shares something reprehensible in common with John McCain’s jabs about who he imagines Hamas would like to see elected. The one thing that was utterly clear and unmistakable about Hillary Clinton’s comment was that she was saying we should structure our primaries based on the possible actions of violent racists. That we should be moved to action by fear, that is the lowest sort of pandering. It is the lowest sort of pandering because it debases us. It reduces us to animals, to prey, scrambling to avoid the predators without any care for who we scratch, bite, or leave behind in the process. It appeals to our feral nature.

When it comes down to it Barack Obama began as a candidate of convenience for me, the person I judged least likely to utterly betray Democratic ideals (and given his past support (with Clinton) of Lieberman during his primary, I was quite wary). But the man is doing what he can to elevate the national discourse. What Hillary ignores and McCain *sometimes* pretends to do, Barack Obama accomplishes.

When I think of the notions of liberty, and what it means to be an American, I think of bravery and an unwavering commitment to human rights and ethical principles. I don’t ascribe to the “what it should mean to be an American” school on this. This is what it has always meant to be an American, even if only a relative few people throughout history have seen it and lived it. If ever anything was un-American, it is an appeal to be ruled by fear. It is that appeal, in both McCain’s Bush-like “the terrorists want you to vote Democrat” and Clinton’s “we should have a backup candidate in case one is shot”, that is offensive on a visceral level.

We can do far better than that. We can appeal to hope and raise up our spirits and our innate courage. And we can win.

[Edit: Oops, the post was written by guest blogger Kevin, not Nezua.]

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7 Responses

  1. Wait until the Senate Select Committee of Ethic have made thier decision/finished the investigation in regards to Sen. Obama violation of Ethic Codes. As refers to known terrorist. How the act of assassination and setting of a bomb is clasified as a terrorist act by the FBI. AS such Lee Harvey Oswald and Williams Ayers are both domestic terrorist. The question been asked, that as no true American would support a Senate who befriended Lee Harvey Oswald after he assassinated JFK, how can now Americans support a Senator who befriends domestic terrorist Ayers, who is another domestic terrorist like Oswald. Did you know that a domestic terrorist like Ayers who admitted to setting of many bombs, is worst than a serial murder/child molester as which crime would became one of the FBI’s top 10 Most Wanted 1st. So big deal in regards to Sen. Clinon’s comments when compaired to Sen. Obama’s action that tell the world that the act of befriending a known domestic terrorist as no big deal because he got away with his crimes. Maybe in 30 years, Americans will look on those persons who admitted to serial murder/child molester who got away with their crimes, as no big deal, as Sen. Obama is leading the charge of telling our youth and World Leaders, no matter how bad the crime is, if you can get away with it, then it means less than if you were a shop lifter. I am sure there are legal minds out there better at making the point of how Sen. Obama help desensitive how we look at terrorism as no big deal and it will in time lead to crimes like rape, child molestation as no big deal either

  2. appreciate that thoughtful examination of both the issue as well as the engine these campaigns are running on, and what it means to be ruled by fear.

    (*small note, that post is actually written by a guest blogger (Kevin) who sometimes posts at UMX, also has is own joint “Slant Truth” which you can access by link at the top of the post you linked)

  3. To whoamever.
    Both sides have missed the fact that the secret service has already
    had a STAND DOWN order while in TEXAS (1,700) during his speech
    there. Their explanation was that it would have taken too long to check
    for weapons.see antagonymist(WP) HAS BARACK OBAMA Been to
    HIS MOUNTAINTOP? FOR A VERY disturbing other view.

    D’Ellis/Mohandas Lighque

  4. Dan, I’m at a loss. I can’t figure out where you get the idea that there was any threat or implied death wish in what Clinton said. The only thing I can attribute it to is a generational thing. Those of us who were alive in 1968 and remember that year will have it forever seared on our memories. I was only a child and I remember how deeply RFK’s death affected me. It is like a historical milestone.
    But what is even more disturbing is how thoroughly you have become convinced that everything Obama says or does is wise and good while everything Hillary does is malicious and destructive. It would be easy to get those ideas if you listened to the media. But these are the same people who tore down Gore to give us George W. Bush, who helped to swiftboat Kerry to give us 4 more years of Bush and who convinced most of the country that Iraq possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction. A little skepticism is in order when we are subjected to anything they say.
    Finally, the blockquote makes several references to “white” blogs and bloggers. I don’t know which blogs the author is referring to. I can’t tell what color my readership is but several self-identify as African-American as well as hispanic. The charge of racism where none exist is perhaps the most destructive part of this whole primary season. Those of us who will not vote for Obama cite this accusation as one of our main grievances. We do not think he is ready to be president due to his lack of relevant experience and other qualifications. He looks and sounds like a child next to Hillary and his last debate performance is a perfect example of this. He had 6 weeks to study up before that debate and apparently wasted the time. He is arrogant, unprepared, passive, cowardly, disrespectful and inexperienced. We do not think he is fit to be president. it wouldn’t matter if he were white, black, brown, or orange with purple polka-dots. To suggest that our sentiments are grounded in racism is incredibly inflammatory. If he is nominated and loses this fall, this charge will be at the heart of it. Voters do not appreciate having their characters destroyed and he will pay for that at the voting booth.

  5. Dear Riverdaughter,

    I disagree with your statement: “But what is even more disturbing is how thoroughly you have become convinced that everything Obama says or does is wise and good while everything Hillary does is malicious and destructive. It would be easy to get those ideas if you listened to the media. ”

    I am an Obama supporter, but I don’t think that Hillary Clinton has a death wish for Obama.

    I do, however, know that she is staying in the race in hopes that some scandal happens that involves him. It isn’t a death wish, but she definitely wishes him ill, because she ultimately wants to be President. It makes sense.

    It’s interesting how all Hillary supporters are convinced that the media is against them. Have you not noticed that she has been forgiven for every gaffe she’s made (gaffes that would surely have, if Obama had committed them, sent him out of the race) including blatantly lying about being under sniper fire? Obama has never blatantly lied like that, and when she did, the press acknowledged it but wrote it off as unimportant. The press were the ones who were still willing to give her a chance after she lost ten straight contests. The press has forgiven her for changing positions on whether or not the Michigan and Florida delegates should be seated. This gaffe, for many, was the last straw. Myself included. She has been given far more forgiveness in the media than Obama has- mainly because she’s a Clinton. I know that a lot of people have been wanting her out of the race for the last couple months, but if you remember, she was the candidate that everyone, including the press, thought was inevitable. Hillary supporters need to stop acting like the media is one huge anti-hillary conspiracy, because a lot of pundits were the ones who were still willing to give her a chance when everyone else saw the writing on the wall.

    And to your second statement that I find interesting:
    “He is arrogant, unprepared, passive, cowardly, disrespectful and inexperienced. We do not think he is fit to be president. it wouldn’t matter if he were white, black, brown, or orange with purple polka-dots. To suggest that our sentiments are grounded in racism is incredibly inflammatory.”

    Seeing as you use the word “we” and see yourself as the mouthpiece for Hillary supporters, allow me the same distinction for Obama supporters. “We” do not think that all Hillary supporters are racist- far from it. “We” only think that the 20% of west virginians who said race was a factor in their vote are racist. “We” are for both a black president and a woman president, but not Hillary. However, we would vote for Hillary if she were the democratic nominee, because we see that the stakes are too high this time to let another Republican with the same economic policies and foreign policies ruin our country. “We” realize that we can’t afford a third term of George W. Bush. In your statement, in which you call Obama “cowardly” (a ridiculous statement, but you’re entitled) you propogate the same divisive rhetoric that Hillary Clinton spouts at every turn. I see why you support her.
    And where the hell do you get “disrespectful?” I honestly don’t know why your blog is always featured, but like the Clintons, you say things that are blatant untruths with the knowledge that most uninformed, gullible people will believe you.

  6. nezua,
    Thanks! Man this is my second time goofing who wrote a post. Damn these eyes! I’ll have to check out Slant Truth.

    omegetymon,
    Took a look. “New World Order” generally makes me wary of conspiracy theory, rather than attentive to serious arguments or warnings.

    riverdaughter,
    Hey, I’m very sorry for getting back and writing a follow up so late! I wanted to be sure to put enough time into it, but if I do that, I’ll probably delay another week, so here goes:

    I don’t think Hillary had a threat in mind when she said what she did. I think that her words were careless, and added to a building narrative of violence surrounding her opponent.

    I also think that her argument, intent about Obama specifically aside, clearly is saying we need to have a backup. A backup in case some asshole with a gun shoots a candidate (either herself or Obama). I think that idea, that we should give in to fear and plan on a violent override of the will of the voters like that, goes beyond cynicism to a very destructive rhetorical strategy. Its a line of reasoning that has been behind many of the most painful mistakes of the Bush Administration, and its startling to see it coming from a Democrat.

    I don’t think in those absolutes about either Candidate. And frankly I do have my worries about Barack. But the thing is, I do hold Obama’s word higher than Hillary’s at this point, and the degree of separation between the two has come about as a result of this election. I hope Mrs. Clinton takes the time to really look at how she presents herself, and lines that up consistently with her ethics, position, and skill as a politician. Because we need strong Democrats in the Senate.

    (The media, btw, has unquestionably been harsh to Hillary. But I think had she run a different campaign she could have won. But that doesn’t mean she should have won.)

    I’ve seen the debates, and while yes Obama has stumbled, so have ALL of the candidates. And I think comparing him to a child displays your own biases. He is anything but passive, cowardly, or disrespectful. As for experience, I’m sorry, but his experience as an *elected* official, not the significant other of one, is equivalent to Hillary’s. And his decision making, as evidenced by his stances on Iraq and Iran, is deftly superior.

    The blockquote was referencing the bloggers, not the readership. Kevin thought it odd that the white authors disagreed, while black authors vastly agreed on the comment. I think it was an interesting assessment. Flip it, for argument’s sake. Let’s say Obama made a comment that could be construed as “Women shouldn’t run for office”. If male bloggers debated whether this was acceptable, and nearly all the female bloggers who wrote about it thought it was clearly unacceptable, wouldn’t that pique your interest?

    In any case my main point was that her statement was an appeal to decision making based on fear. And *that* has no place in the home of the brave.

    amandatalbott,
    Good points, especially on the delegates!

    “We” are for both a black president and a woman president, but not Hillary. However, we would vote for Hillary if she were the democratic nominee, because we see that the stakes are too high this time to let another Republican with the same economic policies and foreign policies ruin our country. “We” realize that we can’t afford a third term of George W. Bush. In your statement, in which you call Obama “cowardly” (a ridiculous statement, but you’re entitled) you propogate the same divisive rhetoric that Hillary Clinton spouts at every turn.

    Very well said. I agree. The stakes are too high to lose sight of the implications of a McCain presidency, or to let the campaign go to waste. Hillary Clinton should be using what she learned from the trail to become a better Senator.

  7. I’ve just come back to view what’s been said. There’s no theory
    in my saying NWO, this term is firmly rooted in the Riechic
    events we’ve witnessed. Do YOU see the tie of Goering’s false
    flagging the destruction of the Chancellory ,then blaming a
    Polish man and 9/11? If not, then, I’ll just walk to MY safe place
    and let the WARNED sit in their ” how did this happen”‘s.

    6-21-08

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