Thursday, May 29, 2008

Looking to be Offended

I’m no fan of Hillary Clinton, but this recent flap about her citing Bobby Kennedy’s assassination in June of the campaign season has gotten way more attention and created way more vitriol than it deserves.

Sen. Clinton definitely deserves criticism for making a dumb remark, but charging her with suggesting that Barack Obama might be assassinated, or worse, that he should be, is even dumber than the original remark.

What she should have said, and what she most likely meant, was that anything can happen at any time, and for her to drop out of the race when she is still winning primaries isn’t smart. We can argue with her logic or her estimation of her chances if we like, but we really can’t argue that it just isn’t possible to know what the near-term future holds for either of those candidates. And recent history fully supports that view.

Only a few months ago Clinton was the presumptive nominee from a fairly large field. Then, Obama came out of nowhere to take a substantial lead. Then, Obama’s dopey minister’s racist and anti-America remarks became public, and the Illinois Senator took a hit in the polls. Clinton has made a few gaffs of her own, along the way.

I saw a post somewhere featuring a video of Keith Olberman in a tirade against Clinton that is as good an example as I’ve seen of over-the-edge reactions, which are not at all uncommon these days. I can’t say I was surprised by Olberman’s goofy video; he’s nothing special, in my view, other than especially dopey.

Other examples of hypersensitivity to remarks made by candidates are the reaction to Obama’s reference to his uncle’s revulsion to his visit to Auschwitz in WWII, which, as it turns out was neither his uncle (it was his great uncle) nor Auschwitz (it was another camp). It just isn’t that important that Obama misremembered something from his childhood, at least not this particular “something.”

Another example is the reaction to John McCain’s comment about a US presence in Iraq for “a hundred years.” Complicating that one, however, is the fact that this comment was taken out of context and the meaning deliberately twisted by McCain’s opponent, Obama, and other of McCain’s detractors.

Politics is serious business, and it deserves to be viewed and treated as the serious mechanism that it is for choosing our leaders. These childish, schoolyard reactions and tactics don’t help us figure out which of the imperfect candidates is likely to inflict the least harm on the country.

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