The “assassination card”

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Bill and Hillary Clinton have been widely criticized for playing the “race card” in their relentless campaign to recapture the White House.

And now they’ve ignited a media firestorm by playing the “assassination card.” On Washington Week, reporter Karen Tumulty said this isn’t the first time they’ve played it; and on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, columnist Mark Shields said it was “absolutely reckless.”(1,2)

“We have seen an x-ray of a very dark soul,” wrote Michael Goodwin, a New York Daily News columnist. “One consumed by raw ambition to where the possible assassination of an opponent is something to ponder in a strategic way. Otherwise, why is murder on her mind?”(3)

Per an international Reuters report this is what she initially said:

“SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota. . . . Hillary Clinton mentioned the June 1968 assassination of Robert Kennedy in explaining on Friday why she had resisted calls to end her White House bid, drawing a rebuke from Democratic front-runner Barack Obama’s campaign.

“Clinton, who later apologized, made the remark about Kennedy to the editorial board of the Sioux Falls Argus Leader newspaper when explaining that other races for the Democratic presidential nomination had lasted into June.

“‘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,’ she said. . . .

“There have been concerns about the safety of Obama, an Illinois senator who would be the first black U.S. president. He began receiving Secret Service protection 18 months before the November election–earlier than any other candidate has received increased security. . . .”(4)

“In a Washington Post-ABC News poll taken in March, nearly six in 10 Americans said they were worried that someone might try to harm Obama if he were the nominee–more than double the percentage who said they were worried about the same for Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee. Among African-Americans, the concern was even greater: more than eight in 10 said they would be worried about Obama’s safety, including 55 percent who said they would be ‘very concerned’ (20 percent of whites said they would have that level of fear).”(5)

Despite those rising fears, Hillary has declined to issue a personal apology to Obama and is ironically citing “gender bias” as a primary reason to continue campaigning.

Australian correspondent Geoff Elliot appropriately asks: “How many nutjobs in the US, wrestling their demons, now might actually think Clinton was talking to them . . . perhaps believing she was sending them a message and finding in them some kind of endorsement?”(6)

The time has clearly come for the Clintons to fold their cards . . . before their “killer gaffe” becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
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(1) “Washington Week” (5/23/08)www.pbs.org/weta/washingtonweek/ (If the link doesn’t work, Google the title.)

(2) “Shields, Brooks Discuss Campaign”
www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/politics/jan-june08/brookshields_05-23.html

(3) “Barack Obama wants Bill to heal Hillary Clinton wounds”
www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/us_elections/article3998946.ece

(4) “Clinton draws rebuke over RFK remark”
http://uk.reuters.com/articlePrint?articleId=UKN2343646720080523

(5) “Lessons Learned?”
http://blog.washingtonpost.com/the-trail/2008/05/25/lessons_learned.html

(6) “Clinton kills off her campaign”
www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,23756157-2703,00.html

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