It may not have been the first time that she said it on the campaign trail, but Hillary Clinton’s remark about staying in the race because Barack Obama could be assassinated like Robert F. Kennedy was in 1968 was wrong on many different levels.
In a meeting with editorial board of the Sioux Falls Argus-Leader, Clinton was asked if she bought the argument of many people in the Democratic Party that she should get out of the race in the name of party unity. “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. I don’t understand it. There’s lots of speculation about why it is,” Clinton answered.
The first level of wrong in Clinton’s statement is her comparison with her husband. If I remember 1992 correctly, Bill Clinton was the delegate leader. He was not the person in second place who stayed in the race, even though he trailed in delegates and had no chance of catching up. Her comparison to 1992 is completely bogus.
The second level of wrong was bringing up the RFK assassination on the same week that Ted Kennedy was diagnosed with brain cancer. At least Clinton apologized for that, “The Kennedys have been much on my mind the last days because of Senator Kennedy and I regret that if my referencing that moment of trauma for our entire nation, and particularly for the Kennedy family was in any way offensive. I certainly had no intention of that, whatsoever.”
The third, and most important, level of wrong is the idea that she needs to stay in the race in case somebody kills Barack Obama. Being that Obama is the first African-American presidential candidate to be poised to become the nominee from a major party, this is a very touchy subject. Clinton’s remark was demeaning to the American people by saying in effect, that she better stand by, and be ready in case somebody takes a shot at the black guy. She is implying her belief that America isn’t ready for a black president. She should apologize to both Obama and the American people for thinking so little of both of them.
There are a lot of fair reasons that Hillary Clinton could have cited for staying in this race until the end. She could have said something like she feels that she owes it to the millions of people who voted for her to stay in the race until the end. She could have even said that sometimes things happen in long primary seasons so she wants to stick around until the Party has a nominee, but instead she chose to make a remark that revealed a great deal about the way she views the world.
The one element of Hillary Clinton that turned a lot of Democrats off was that she tends to view the political spectrum in negative terms. This is why she was never able to offer Democratic voters a message of hope.
Hillary Clinton is a tactical politician who along with her husband has always had success by running on negativity. The Bush/Cheney years have been negative to the extreme. Americans were ready for a positive message, but Hillary Clinton is hard wired to negative campaign, and this reason maybe more than any other is why Barack Obama will be the Democratic nominee.
Hillary Clinton’s statement can be read here