The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Saturday, May 24, 2008

She said WHAT?

O.K. She's off the rails. Hillary's latest comment about why she's staying in the race is clearly nothing more than a verbalization of something people have thought about from the beginning--that a black man running for president might very well be assassinated. But for a professional public speaker, sharply aware of the impact of words on public actions, knowing that 20% of her voters in key states are racist, a week after Huckabee made his joke to the NRA about Obama fearing being shot...is absolutely bugnuts. Or Machiavellian beyond belief. She just lost whatever kind thoughts I still held about her in my heart, and feel that I was right all along. This is a woman who killed her heart, let her marriage die, for ambition. All of you who talk about the fact that women make marriages like this all the time listen closely: so do men. Men and women kill their hearts for different reasons. And it leads to lack of ability to calibrate. If she claims not to understand the impact of her words, ignore for a moment that that disqualifies her from leading a 21st Century America. More importantly, emotional fatigue and physical exhaustion have either warped her judgment, or revealed the grinning skull behind the mask. I don't know. To be honest, I have very serious sources that believe some of the rumors about the Clintons during the Arkansas days. I won't go into it, but trust me when I say this doesn't come from a Republican with an axe to grind. For a woman who knows she has been accused (or her husband has) of complicity in bespoke murder, to use the word "assassination" a week after Huckabee's remark...Jesus Christ. I feel so terribly sorry for her. And people are right: if he brought her on as VP, better have a food taster.
#
When ambition burns brighter than your urge to have a healthy family, it is exactly the same as that ambition causing you to neglect your body. Or your physical drives causing financial disruption. Or your obsession with family causing you to ignore physical and financial concerns. It's all sick. You lose touch with yourself, and your instincts. I completely believe there are LOTS of people who make similar deals. Just like there are lots of people who are broke, or in jobs they hate, or are morbidly obese. I see it the same way.

And I see it leading to the same result. We may be watching a melt-down here. I'm not entirely sure how you come back from this one.
##
By the way...I mean the following sincerely. There has been far, far more talk about literal death threats to Obama than to Clinton, or anyone else I can remember in the history of politics. Black people were literally afraid to vote for him due to this. At this point, the relative percentage of, say black people who expressed fear for Obama's life outnumbers women I've heard express fear for Clinton's by at least ten to one. Do you think he doesn't know this? And considering how important it is to his approach to politics to actually meet people, press flesh, stand live in front of them...do you get what he has to be dealing with? If you haven't factored in the question, literally, of life and death in your reckoning of whether "race has been an Obama advantage" despite this, and 20% of some states voters claiming they'd never vote for a black man, or all the Muslim, Reverend Wright, "Obama-Osama" crap...if you believe that his being half-white isn't a gigantic advantage (you think he'd still be in this race if he was darker? Didn't have a white mother? The equivilent for Hillary would be being an Hermaphrodite. Obama isn't black. He's Half-Black. Even the very definition is racist, and a legacy of slavery). If you can discount the actual risk to his life, (ask yourself what it would take to juice yourself up to get in front of an audience day after day knowing that Hillary and Huckabee are merely expressing the unconscious thoughts of millions of Americans)...and STILL think that he's had an overall advantage, then wow, we REALLY see human nature very, very differently indeed. It feels similar to the discounting of the higher male death and violence rate--it just doesn't matter. All that matters is that there are women who get pissed if another woman is called "Sweetie." Excuse me? Yeah, that might have been in bad taste, but how in the hell could it even be considered on the same scale as death? This genuinely disturbs me. I am all, 100% for women having all the rights that any man has. But the tendency of any group to discount the misery of others for their own political gain can, in my mind, be seen very clearly here. I guess women really are completely equal after all.

33 comments:

suzanne said...

she's beyond the pale
with this
(and it's a recurrent remark she's made)
pathological
and detrimental to women
wanting equal treatment

it disgusts me

Anonymous said...

I've known long-service military black guys. I don't think Colin Powell would have backed down from white threats. Do you think threats against black Republicans don't count?

Dan Moran said...

I said a few posts back I thought one of the reasons she was staying in the race was because an unexpected meteorite might hit Obama. I was thinking small plane crash myself, but a shooting wouldn't have surprised me. The guys Obama keeps getting compared to -- the Kennedy brothers, MLK, even Lincoln -- all got shot in the head. (It's amusing to note that the guy Republicans all pretend to revere, Lincoln, was a liberal Illinois politician. If he hadn't had an 'R' next to his name, all those southern Republicans could tell the truth about how they feel about the guy.)

Simply deranged of Hillary to pop off with it in public, though.

Lynn said...

Yes, this proves it, Steve - we ARE completely equal. I try to tell people that, but they don't listen. I think we had a testosterone vs. estrogen/ nature vs. nurture debate on this blog once. Now you see? I know I am right about this. The person-shaping histories, social influences, experiences, etc. are much more important to a person's make-up than their gender. Can you picture Obama saying something like that? - "I'm staying in the race in case somebody offs her."? No? Me, either. I really liked her, but this reminds me of all that shady Clinton stuff.

Dan Gambiera said...

When Obama first appeared on my radar he was my third choice after Kucinich and Edwards. But like a lot of people I've become very excited about his candidacy. There's a feel for the times and a change from some of the poisonous old ways of doing things that you just don't see very often.

It made me think of the last few times we had a moment like that. And for a few months I couldn't get "Abraham, Martin, Bobby and John" out of my head.

Anonymous said...

We spent the day with some friends and at dinner they had an interesting take on Hillary's campaign. They opined that Bill had deliberately sabotaged her campaign. They said Bill was brilliant and a very astute politician, but at various times during this campaign had acted like a horses ass and that the only explanation was that he didn't want Hillary as president.

Marty S

Lester Spence said...

Powell didn't RUN in the FIRST PLACE because of death threats. Didn't back down?

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

Well, death threat possibilities aside, when stories were floating about Powell running, people who didn't like him went and dragged out the fact that his wife had been on antidepressants. I found that a low blow - it wasn't remotely a thing about his wife that would actually reflect on his competence to be President, but it was an attempt to get him out by hurting her.

It took me about four or five tries to get to a Youtube link that would actually load for me, so I could confirm that she really did specifically mention RFK's assassination and not just reference the 1968 campaign in terms that would make everyone remember the assassination. It's all the weirder because, for me anyway, the assassinations of MLK and RFK came so close together that they blur together in my mind as almost one event (I was seven at the time, and they're the first public event I remember). I think she's taken herself out of the running for VP. The odds that someone will at least try to assassinate Obama if he gets elected aren't all that low, just on general principle of how often people try to assassinate presidents, to begin with (figure 30% of the presidents in my lifetime have faced at least one visible assassination attempt).

Kami said...

I can't imagine someone like Hillary trying to negotiate through delicate political situations. Can you? Maybe she can be this brazen, cutthroat, sick and nasty on U.S. soil about U.S. politicians, but I don't think world leaders will put up with what she's becoming (or who she's been all along?) Yes, world leaders are jaded, some of them are quite nasty or even more so, etc. but aren't we trying (among other things,) as a nation, to elect someone who will win friends and influence people in a positive way? I don't think she can be as nasty as some of the real pieces of work that influence world politics (though she may think she is) and I fear she won't be as clever and diplomatic as she'll need to be to win and/or win back the allies the U.S. desperately needs. Though I have some concerns about her domestic policy, it's not something that keeps me up at night. How she'd deal with foreign policy and relations--yowza.

Anonymous said...

After reading the comments in these posts I found the interview on a site and listened to Hilary's comment in context. I think the reaction here is pretty hypocritical after the complaints about sound bites surrounding Rev. Wright and Michelle Obama. When I listened to Michelle Obama's comment in the longer context I wasn't completely convinced that she was saying something different than the sound bite implied, but I felt that in context one could give her the benefit of the doubt. I think the same could be said in this case for Clinton.

Marty S

Lester Spence said...

I don't have time to get the quotes, but I'm going to try to get the jist:

Rev. Wright--quote without context implies that America is to blame for 9/11. Which implies that he is anti-American.

Obama--quote without context implies that she is anti-American, or at least WAS until recently. This implies that her husband is as well.

Clinton--quote without context implies that she is in the race waiting until something catastrophic happens to Obama.

With both Wright and Obama, the quotes taken out of context are critiques of the country. Not whites. Definitely not individuals. With Clinton her quote taken out of context implies a death wish for her opponent--something never (to my knowledge) expressed in the history of modern presidential campaigning.

Placing the quotes in context Wright becomes a more rational critic. Obama too. But Clinton? We still can't explain why she chose that example as a "normal" reason why campaigns go into June. More specifically we cannot explain why she would actually use the term "assassination", given its PARTICULAR meaning in this presidential campaign.

It is difficult for me to see, analytically speaking, how you can place Obama, Wright, and Clinton's quotes in the same category. Just as I can't see how calling someone "sweetie" should be placed in the same category as implying that someone is unelectable because they are black.

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

I actually think many of her recent remarks, but not so much this one, can be explained as a rational bargaining strategy. She's nearly lost, she knows that Obama will likely be the nominee, and, though she's continuing to fight the long odds because she might pull it off and because the prize is worth it (and fair enough for her to stay in at least through the last primary), she's also working on her plan B. Which involves alternately being difficult enough that Obama will have to strike her a good bargain and encouraging enough that he'll think she can be a good ally if won. Maybe she's been angling for the vice presidency, or maybe for something else, but whatever it is, she's probably been talking about it through back channels. And that explains the situation where one day she'll be making unity noises about how we'll all fall behind the nominee, the next speaking in extra heated terms about Florida and Michigan, and the next someone has leaked that the two campaigns are close to a deal. It's not that different from what I've seen following the news in other negotiating situations - for example, the post-election stand off in Kenya between Kibaki and Odinga.

The assassination reference, though, doesn't serve her interests in this regard; the only way it works as a calculated rational act is if Bill wants her to have the vice presidency and she thinks she'd have a better power base staying in the Senate. I don't really see the Obama campaign (said to be "livid" now) being more likely to give her anything she'd want because of this. So I actually think it's more likely (and fits the question and answer I saw in the Youtube snippet) that RFK has been on her mind for whatever reason, and that she thought of the assassination as establishing a timeline, where the primaries were still going on in June that year. (Of course, June was earlier in those days, since the primaries have been progressively more front loaded.) Gaffe, rather than knowing attempt to suggest "nice nominee, pity if something should happen to him." (Similar deal for Huckabee, who had nothing to gain from his misapplied attempt at humor, and different deal from some of the other cases where the Clinton camp has been seen as playing the race card, some of which could plausibly have benefited Clinton with a certain set of voters.) But as a gaffe, it's a real doozy, and I do think it probably will put her out of the VP stakes, even if she and Obama soon reach some other mutually satisfactory deal.

The Gray Lady has an account of what the day following the incident looked like from the point of view of reporters on the road with Clinton's campaign: http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/05/24/on-the-road-clintons-very-bad-day/; the post includes links to the video and a transcript of the full interview (most of which involved more mundane discussion of why Clinton's domestic policy is better than Obama's).

Steven Barnes said...

Anonymous: I have no idea what your comment meant about black Republicans. And it is both common and specialized knowledge that Colin Powell's wife threatened to leave him if he ran, so frightened was she for his life.

Steven Barnes said...

I fail to see how it is hypocritical to state the obvious at this point: that this was a really stupid thing to say, at the least. No one here has said it "means" one thing or another--except that she was saying something that could reasonably be predicted to cause a shitstorm. I think Reverend Wright was expressing serious anger against America. And Michelle Obama the same. In no other election cycle can I ever remember ANYONE talking about a candidate being assassinated. It has come up at least five times about Obama. If you consider that a coincidence, fine. I myself do not, although I stop well short of thinking she's calling for someone to take a drastic action. I just think she was tired enough to let her subconscious thoughts slip.

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

It has come up at least five times about Obama.

Five times?? I only heard about the Huckabee one and this one. (And even just those two feel quite weird. Huckabee was one of the few Republicans to defend Jeremiah Wright, so, social conservative though he is, I doubt he's more racist in his instincts than a whole lot of other people. If he's expressing his real subconscious thoughts, well, creepy.)

Anonymous said...

When I listened to the interview she never mentioned Obama or said he might be assassinated. She mentioned two events related to campaigns that occurred in California in June. One being RFK's assasination. Putting the twist on that this means she was saying Obama might be assassinated before the convention is at least as much of a case imputing a meaning not said as with Wright and Michelle Obama.
On the issue of why Obama and assignation comes up so often, I think its because realistically, like it or not, he is a much better than average candidate for such an attempt. This true for I believe two reasons;

1) Half white or not he is the "Black" candidate to all the white supremacists and other racist kooks out there.

2) People with his political philosophy are historically more frequent targets i.e. JRK,RFK, and although not a president MLK.

Marty S

suzanne said...

as has been pointed out in numerous places, Marty
there are plenty of other examples to use about primary June history
rather than talking about assasination
though none of them
is quite the same
given how early the primary season started this year (last year!)

and as I recolelct you're the one
who said you became a Hillary supporter after her "Obliterate them" response to Iran

I found that comment as offensive as McCain's Bomb Bomb Bomb, Iran
song
after all the people of Iran are some of the most America friendly
and secular Arabs
in the Middle East

and if you check the location of Iran you'll see
that using a nuclear option
(UNTHINKABLER for me) means
fallout
(the radioactive kind) floating into Afghsnistan and Pakistan

and anyone who thinks "obliterating" Iran
wouldn't mean Israel would be attacked
or if an Israel attack came first
that there wouldn't be further devastating attacks
on Israel after
isn;t following the thought all the way through

The whole Arab world
would come down on us

talking about obliterating any country
by someone running for high office
is, in my view, irresponsible
and panders to one of the unhealthiest aspects of being human

Anonymous said...

Marty S,

I believe that JFK and RFK's political philosophies have little in common with Obama's. Take JFK - he believed that cutting taxes stimulates the economy, so he cut taxes substantially - even for the wealthy. JFK was a supply sider. JFK was strongly pro-military, and favored building and using a strong military. JFK was responsible for founding the Green Berets and, for better or worse, for involving the US military in Southeast Asia. He also supported very aggressive efforts to investigate corruption in the Teamsters; Senator Obama has told the unions that he wants to reduce Federal oversight of unions.

JFK was also very strongly anti-communist. I see no evidence that Obama is the same. I have seen nothing that suggests that JFK and RFK wanted to make health care the responsibility of the Federal Government. By today's standards, JFK's politics were actually quite conservative. Oh yes - JFK was a huge supporter of the space program. This effort was driven largely by very vocal patriotism, a clearly expressed desire to prove the superiority of liberal democracy as a philosophy over communism, and national defense interests. As far as I know, Senator Obama has no special interest in space and is not known for asserting the superiority of American liberal democracy over other forms of government. The fact that Obama and JFK and RFK are all Democrats does not mean that they share a political philosophy. There is a huge difference between the politics of a 1965 Democrat and a 2008 Democrat.

Marco

Anonymous said...

Suzanne - a bit of a correction. Iranians are not Arabs. Iranians (most of whom are Persians) have a language and culture that is quite different from that of the Arabs. Even their form of Islam is quite different from that practiced by most Arabs. Also, Arabs tend to strongly dislike - even hate - Iranians. If something very bad happened to Iran, Arabs as a whole might not really mind. In fact, many night be happy about it.

Marco

suzanne said...

thanks for the correction, MArco
yes I do know in fact that Iranians are Persians
just a slip
though I still believe the Middle East would explode
if we started a premptive war with Iran plus our military is in no shape for it

so school me on this:
what is the Iranian
beef with Israel?

Anonymous said...

Given Powell's record, I don't think he'd have decided not to run based on white threats. I think Powell, like many black Republicans, got death threats from black Democrats.
I base this on what Steve Gilliard et al have said openly. Hope that's clear.
Nasty subject.

Anonymous said...

Suzanne: Hilary did not say that if elected president she would obliterate Iran. She said that if Iran used nuclear weapons first on some other nation she would respond in kind. Nuclear weapons have been around since we used them on Japan. I believe that a major part of the reason they have not been used is because everyone has known that the response to their use would be their own destruction by the other sides nuclear weapons. If you allow some one to think they can use these weapons without a counterstrike you encourage them to use their weapons. This is why I cheered Hilary's response. Because I believe that as long as our enemies know we are prepared to respond in kind they won't act first. By the way I considered it a message to all our enemies not just Iran.

Marco:
You say by today's standards JFK was very conservative, but a person must be judged by the standards of the time they live in. JFK is famous for the quote Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country. Is this not just what Obama is saying in different words. JFK pushed forward the space program and we ended up with a man on the moon. The equivalent today is alternative energy. If Obama is elected he would do well to develop the equivalent of the space program to solve ours and the world's energy/environmental problems. The times have changed and the problems have changed but I hardly think I I'm insulting Obama by comparing him to JFK.

Marty S

Steven Barnes said...

As I said, the story, from several sources, is that Powell backed down to save his marriage. Did the nasty comments come from black Democrats? My, we're really stretching. I'll say that a former Secret Service agent I traveled a thousand miles to interview said that the notes were specifically racist and by all appearances from good White Americans. I have no idea of their political affiliation. Your notion is grotesque.

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

Steve Gilliard's blog is down, since he died a year and a half ago (though there's a note at the site saying that his family are collecting and trying to publish his writings). I certainly don't recall, when he was still blogging, reading him saying anything about black Democrats making death threats either to Colin Powell in particular or to black Republicans in general; I'd be much surprised if he said such a thing.

I do remember him criticizing black Republicans, but not in any terms that would suggest to me that anyone he knew wished violence on them.

Anonymous said...

Some people do not give up when they encounter adversity, they care less about what others think than possibility of achieving their goal. Some of them will play the game within the rules, and some will go outside them... In any situation more complex than a game board, many of the "rules" are socially defined, not necessarily by consensus. So, what is within bounds tends to be somewhat open to interpretation depending on viewpoint.

I'm certainly seeing this in the current election. It seems to be a pretty natural expression of the level of competitiveness and ambition that the candidates have, and how much of their self images must be on the line.

Everyone misspeaks at some point. I've seen every candidate left in the campaign do so, certainly. They have spoken so much in public in past months that it's impossible to have a perfect performance for that length of time.

I ask, should we worry over these "crumbs" that the candidates throw out as clues to their inherent nature and extrapolate these into what sort of decisions they would make as a president, or can we determine who we want to vote for based on other criteria?

Does anyone dare to hope, that we could have a president that could provide real leadership during the major challenges that will be coming during their term? The handling of Iraq (Iran?) and the economy/oil are going to be crucial, many other problems either get at least partially solved as a part of solving those or will be exacerbated if those are handled poorly. Would any candidate handle them *much* better or worse than the others?

V

Dan Moran said...

By today's standards, JFK's politics were actually quite conservative.

In recent years I've heard Republicans trying to distance themselves from Nixon, a hardcore conservative, and to claim JFK, a hardcore Massacheussets liberal. While it's amusing stuff, it doesn't fly in either direction. Nixon was a conservative until he died, albeit disgraced; JFK, had he lived, would enjoy the same reputation with conservatives that Ted Kennedy does today.

Steven Barnes said...

Under stress, people reveal who they really are. In this case, there is one simple question: if God appeared to Hillary Clinton in a dream and said, "you can be President, but Barack Obama must die" would she take the deal? I am still hoping her answer is "no." But for someone who wants to be leader of the free world to repeatedly evoke images of such power suggests either ignorance or malevolence. To refuse to apologize increases my discomfort here: the only thing I have direct knowledge of is that she has cut herself off from a healthy flow of feminine heart energy--presumably for ambition. That's toxic, but not completely poisonous. Really, I am kind of staggered by this stuff. Wow, this shit is bad.

Anonymous said...

Suzanne,

I am not really informed about the basis of the Iranian beef with Israel. If I knew, I'd tell you though. It actually seems a bit odd to me, since Iran is neither Arab, a neighbor of Israel, nor an historical enemy of Israel. Iran is interested in expanding their influence in the Persian Gulf region. Maybe they're trying to establish more common ground with the neighbors whom they plan to influence? Possibly it is as it seems on the surface - bog standard Islamist intolerance of Jews and cultures based on something other than Sharia. I can only speculate, really.

Marco

Anonymous said...

anonymous,

JFK's driving issue, when he was trying to get elected, was an alleged missile gap, and a general drive for increasing defense spending in order to make the US militarily stronger vs. the Soviets. JFK claimed that the Republican President Eisenhower was not strong enough against communism. By the standards of the time, JFK was more conservative than the Republican Eisenhower, certainly when it came to defense related issue. During JFK's election his message was that his priority was to build military strength to counter the major brand of totalitarianism of his time. I don't see Obama having an equivalent of this major issue driving his campaign. Today's equivalent would be to build military strength in order to counter Islamism and Islamist terrorism.

And how is putting a man on the moon somehow a stand-in for developing alternate energy sources? I'd think that putting a man on the moon's equivalent today would still be something directly related to space exploration. We do still have a space program, after all.

Government encouraged development of alternate energy was already going on by the 60s. It was largely based on nuclear energy, IIRC. If JFK had championed developing nuclear power as a major campaign issue, maybe an equivalence could be drawn with Senator Obama's campaign message, but I don't think that it happened. JFK may possibly have strongly supported nuclear power as a campaign issue in the context of building nuclear powered military vessels, but again, this doesn't seem to overlap much with Senator Obama's priorities, assuming the JFK actually did this.

I don't think that you're insulting Senator Obama by comparing him to JFK. I just see the comparison as totally inaccurate. If you want to say that they both served in Congress, are attorneys, went to Ivy League schools, are smart, speak well, or that sort of thing, certainly they have things in common. From a standard of political beliefs though, JFK and Senator Obama are very different.

Marco

Anonymous said...

dan moran

"JFK, had he lived, would enjoy the same reputation with conservatives that Ted Kennedy does today."

What is your evidence for this? Or are you simply making an Ex Cathedra argument? Can you demonstrate that the historical examples I used evidence when making my JFK-related arguments are wrong? JFK and Senator Kennedy are very clearly two different people with very different careers, and the product of two very different times.

Marco

Anonymous said...

Marco: Look at it this way. Obama is an inspirational speaker, who seeks to inspire people, and bring change. JFK, RFK and MLK all fit that bill as did Ronald Reagan. The only difference in Reagan's case is that the assassination attempt failed. I did not say that JFK and Obama had similar stands on issues. I said that they had similar political philosophy. If one believes in change and succeeds then the world is different, therefore the next person who believes in change is going to disagree on issues with the previous change leader, because he is trying to change a different world.
Being for change is dangerous, because there are people who don't want change and will act to preserve the status quo.

Marty S

Michelle said...

Assassination talk...totally unacceptable imo.


You I think this whole sweetie thing is stupid. I always have. It's never bothered me...except when used in a derogatory fashion..which let me tell you, there is NO mistaking it when used that way. Everyday run of the mill sweetie though? Not a problem and shouldn't be in my opinion.

Society is a nicer place with public endearments. and it sickens mean when folks would rather we lived in glass boxes because it's some how degrading to be complimented.

My background...I've various held a secretary positions from 2002-2008...let me tell you there is very little respect in that position. I've been called sweetie a lot. By sales folks, CEO's, Vp's and clients. There is a world of difference between "Thanks Sweetie, will you please get me the coffee" and "Hey Sweetie, get the coffee."

Of course I hope to never be a secretary again...ever. I still get called sweetie at work.

Anonymous said...

Marty S,

JFK did not base his campaign on some sort of grand theme of change. He based it on continuing the Cold War and taking a hard line vs. communism, but spending more money on the effort. His political philosophy, as reflected in his campaign was sticking to the status quo but spending more money on it and enforcing it more stringently. By your logic, every new candidate represents change because, by definition, they are a different person than the last one who held the position, and no two people are alike, so change will occur if someone new is elected. Change effectively becomes a meaningless word when used so generally.

Marco