Stepping Through the Door

This diary is about the irresponsible statements made by Hillary Clinton on this 23rd Day of May, 2008.  I’m not going to link to the statements.  BooMan has done a sufficient job laying it out.  I simply want to comment on the seriousness of what she has said.

As a trial lawyer, one of the cardinal rules I have been taught about a jury presentation is that it is most effective to lead a jury right up to the point of making a decision.  But to pause on the door step.  To let them take the last stride themselves.  People want to make their own decisions.  It makes their positions more firm.  They become committed to the idea, because it is their own.  Given that Mrs. Hillary Clinton and I were both educated in American Law schools in the same quarter century, I am almost certain she has come across, and probably internalized this rule.

A second thing I am almost certain Mrs. Clinton and I share, based on our American legal education, is the necessity of preparation before making public remarks.  Even for someone whose style is relatively extemporaneous, like myself, some thought goes into the structure and content of the words you speak.  For interviews.  For press conferences.  For mere discussions where your motive is to influence people.

So in making her statements today regarding her own continuation in this campaign, there is little doubt in my mind that Mrs. Clinton weighed her words regarding the assassination of a Democratic hero carefully.  These statements — both the one made today and another reference she made recently — appear calculated to lead voters and media personnel up to a certain conclusion.  

Simply ask yourself why you would mention the assassination of Bobby Kennedy in discussing your own mathematically doomed campaign for the Democratic nomination.  You are leading the audience to come to a conclusion.  You do not step through the door to that conclusion.  They draw it on their own.  This man may well be shot — she urges the audience to conclude — and it is important that I remain to save our party.

Further, this was not an off-the-cuff remark.  It is part of a canned string of language she has rehearsed.  When the interviewer gives the opening to talk about extending the race, she spits out her canned answer.  An answer crafted, by her, and likely by a team that is despicable.  It is “the Bill was in until June and Obama is wearing a target” block which she has honed and is ready to spew.

Alone, the use of this language for her obvious narcissistic pursuit is beyond repugnant.

I raise one further point.  I do not believe it should go unsaid.  I believe to ignore it would be naive.  We have all heard the racist undertones of the campaign this woman has run.  It has been called dog whistling for the most part, I believe, to avoid calling it what it is.  She and her handlers have sought to drive a wedge between the people on the basis of the pigmentation of our skin.

Combine this tactic with the disturbing things that could be heard ushering from the mouths of some voters in West Virginia, and I believe you can see that Clinton is fanning the flames of a dangerous thing.  Take it a step further.  To talk of assassination — clearly referencing your opponent’s possible demise — in an atmosphere where you have fanned the flames of racism:  It is sin.  I am not a religious man.  But this is sin.  Sin that makes my skin crawl.

We all now know the type of vitriol that exists even at the extremities of the Democratic party.  And I believe most here share an understanding that these extremes exist in the American right at an even more dangerous level — by people who proudly carry weapons and believe that the word of God might be the best political guidance.  There are frightening people out there in the world.  Who do not share most bloggers views of discussing problems at a keyboard.  All I can say is heaven help this woman, should a lunatic decide that he or she might single-handedly prevent our nation from taking a most historic step forward.  She will be damned.


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  1. Can’t handle this particular line of “reasoning.”

    • Robyn on May 24, 2008 at 02:39

    It’s been a common sentiment on our campus.

    There are many people who believe the racism started coming out of the mouths of the Obama campaign.  Perhaps people ought to think about that as well.

  2. I’ll be glad when this one is over. I find myself walking back and forth across lines almost more than daily.

    My instincts tell me that this is not a matter of “a pox on both your houses” and that the Clinton campaign is playing this one very dirty.

    But then I worry that I’m just buying into the bi-furcation that is happening and I try to open my eyes to see a wider picture.

    And then she goes and says something like this today and all that gets shot to hell.

    I’m tired of trying to see it from both sides. But I worry about how ugly it gets if we don’t at least try.  

  3. i wonder if it wouldn’t be more fair to have this discussion, here in this essay, with her exact statement in the essay.

    i am not sure the link is enough.

    just my reaction.

  4. but as you yourself have said many times:

    “Hope is not a plan”.

    Unless of course, she knows something we don’t?

    • pico on May 24, 2008 at 07:24

    I think her statement was profoundly offensive for other reasons (a Kennedy in the hospital, a candidate with real assassination anxiety), but there’s nothing to convince me that she intended it as a threat or warning about an assassination.

    Ask yourself: what was she trying to do with this comment? – I mean, in the context of her speech.

    She was trying to argue that a losing candidate with June momentum can still carry the nomination.

    How many losing candidates with June momentum can you name?

    I wouldn’t want to use any of the late-decided primaries that didn’t go on to win the presidency, because that would make Hillary’s case look even weaker.  So ditch all those.  Of the others…

    Not JFK – he was ahead throughout.  His only real challenge came at the convention itself, when Johnson announced his candidacy.

    Not Johnson’s first term – he was crushing everyone but Wallace, who barely pulled in half Johnson’s vote.

    Not Carter’s first term – he had the nomination sealed up by March.

    Bill Clinton’s a good counterexample: he had a major fight with California’s Jerry Brown.  Clinton trounced him in June, effectively winning the nomination.

    The other one’s a bit more curious.  RFK came from nowhere in June to mount what was looking like a successful challenge to Johnson.  Barring the assassination, he very well might have beaten the unpopular incumbent.  

    So if I were a candidate looking for examples of locked primaries changed by June juggernauts, these are the only two examples I’d be able to use.  Problem is the tone-deaf use of RFK – it’s easy to rationalize why he was a good pick if you’re arguing strategy, but the issues I mentioned in the first paragraph are why the choice was an utterly stupid one.

    But personally, I think this idea that Clinton wants Obama to be assassinated – or was trying to connect Obama with assassination – is ludicrous.  What you consider a “clear” reference, other people with no particular stance in the primary just don’t see it.

  5. But I for one cannot excuse it. Unforgiveable, regrettable, The leaders of the DNC should demand she leave the race immediately as she is unqualified to be the President of the United States.

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