Sunday, May 25, 2008

Word Games

I've avoided writing about Clinton's "assassination" remark, partly because I didn't know how to interpret it. She was talking about how it's not time for her to drop out of the race yet, and she said this:
"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."
Seems innocent enough, right? My first reaction was to interpret it as simply explaining why she hasn't dropped out yet. Her husband didn't wrap up the nomination until June, Bobby Kennedy didn't get out of the race until June, when he was assassinated. The assassination reference was a sidenote, right? Totally innocent.

But then again, this is Hillary Clinton. She's a smart woman who has demonstrated that she is very in control of the words she uses. On further reflection, I think she knew exactly what she was saying, but she miscalculated the backlash.

Also, there's another element to this that I haven't seen discussed in the press. If Clinton wins, she'd be our first woman president, just like if Obama wins, he'd be our first black president. All presidents have to worry about assassination attempts, and the concern is greater for "first" presidents like both Clinton and Obama would be. Maybe she was voicing a concern that had been stated in her own camp, about protecting herself against assassination.

Because Obama's victory is becoming more likely, the chatter about an Obama assassination attempt probably made it into her camp and she blurted the word out in an exhausted, bumbling, inarticulate moment. She thought it wasn't a big deal, but it was. The links are below; decide for yourself.

Here's the article detailing her explanation and the Obama and Kennedy reactions [CNN].
Here's the YouTube video of her original remarks [].

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