Tuesday, May 27, 2008

No VP Slot for Hillary

Speaking to the Argus Leader in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on Friday, May 23, Hillary was asked why she doesn't drop out of the race. Her reply has ignited a firestorm: “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."

Here’s the full context of this section of the interview:

For some in the Obama camp, this was taken as meaning that Hillary wants to stay in the race in case Barack Obama gets assassinated. Keith Olbermann, the Obama shill on MSNBC, made a dramatic denunciation of Hillary. Here's the full 10 minutes of bile:

This is a mantra that I’ve heard repeated by a number of Obama supporters over the last 2 months, “Put Hillary in the VP slot on the Obama ticket, and something will happen to Obama so that Hillary becomes President.” I personally find this to be the worst sort of political slander and character assassination. And it’s curious that the outrage about bringing the word “assassination” into the discussion hasn’t come earlier.

Barack Obama, to his credit, has not read any dark meaning into this saying, “Sen. Clinton says that she did not intend any offense by it, and I will take her at her word on that." But earlier his campaign had issued a statement "Sen. Clinton's statement before the Argus Leader editorial board was unfortunate and has no place in this campaign."

I have to side with Hillary on this one. First, she is the hero in her own story. And in her story, the reference to Robert F. Kennedy is to Hillary and not to Barack Obama. He is the heroic figure who got a late start in the 1968 primaries, battled to push ahead of Eugene McCarthy, and was closing in on frontrunner Hubert Humphrey at the time of his assassination. She is saying that no one would have told RFK to get out after he won California in 1968, even though he was in second place. RFK was winning primaries while Humphrey was racking up caucus states, much like Hillary has done against Barack. I'm sure she identifies very closely with RFK. She, like RFK, is trying to fight the perception that she wants to establish a family dynasty. She holds the U.S. Senate seat in New York that RFK held when he ran for President in 1968. She has the endorsement of RFK’s children.

And frankly, if Barack gets death threats, Hillary gets them to. And I suspect a fair number of them take the form, “If anything happens to Barack Obama, you’re a dead woman.” So I think I’m going to require an apology from Barack Obama before I let this go. Or at least I’m going to require Barack to disavow Keith Olbermann on this issue. Barack better seat Michigan and Florida too.

Nonetheless, I do think this gaffe disqualifies Hillary from the VP slot on Obama’s ticket. We can’t have a VP who has been publicly thinking about assassination. And if Hillary were the VP and something unthinkable were to happen, she would be in an untenable position. That just won’t do. She can have a job in the Obama administration, just not VP.

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