If it was given to Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy’s endorsement would have been treated like an irrelevant handout from a liberal has-been. But, because he endorsed the MSM’s favorite anti-Hillary, Kennedy was the subject of misty-eyed, passing-the-torch tributes from old-school Washington types like Chris Matthews. After taking a week off from its vehement anti-Clinton story lines after Hillary surprised in New Hampshire, the cable chatters were back on the Obama bandwagon before and after South Carolina, focusing most of their heavy-breathing on things Bill Clinton did and didn’t say. They apparently do not appreciate Bill’s fairly astute media analysis, such as when he accurately accused them of giving Obama a free ride on the "fairy tale" of his Iraq war record or when he got in the face of a CNN reporter for trying to stir up non-existent racial issues in the campaign for their own entertainment and ratings. As usual with Bill, the truth is not a defense.
Even wing-nuts like Sean Hannity managed to get through the 24-hour Kennedy endorsement news cycle without the usual snarky references to Chappaquiddick that informs so much of nut-right "discussion" of all things Teddy when he dares to try to do something that they disagree with. You wonder if the mainstream radio squawkers reveling in the Kennedy endorsement as a Hillary slap-down found themselves rolling their eyes in the studio as they bit their usually harsh Teddy-tongues. But that would be giving them too much credit for self-reflection, so, never mind.
Back to Smith’s assassination allusions...
I was in third grade when the nuns came in tears to tell us that JFK had been killed. Ever since I saw the Zapruder film played clandestinely in the UW Memorial Union in 1973, when Time-Life still had it under seal, I knew there was no way Oswald acted alone, if he acted at all. The killing shot that spread JFK’s brains all over the trunk of the limo – the pieces of which Jackie tried to crawl out to retrieve – was so obviously from the front of the car, any suggestion that the shot came from behind is ridiculous. I was in Dallas several years ago and visited the museum that now sits on the 6th floor of the Book Depository. It was an interesting tribute to the official version of history, but not nearly as interesting as walking around the Killing Field itself. Driving out of the parking lot, I was, by accident, driving the same path as the motorcade. I drove the convenient curves of the road slowly (but not as slowly as Kennedy’s driver) and, at one point, found myself facing the fence behind the grassy knoll, right at the point when JFK caught the head shot. As with the Zapruder film, what do you expect me to believe: the Warren Commission or my lying eyes?
"Back, and to the right. Back, and to the right." HBO has been running Oliver Stone’s JFK on one of its side-channels recently and I caught myself watching it again last weekend. Donald Sutherland’s "composite" spook and his "ask yourself who benefitted" speculation notwithstanding (although I wouldn’t put anything past LBJ), I thought the movie got the scattered facts of the conspiracy theorists mostly right, although the seriousness of the subject matter deserved a little more care, even for Hollywood. For his sins, Stone ended up as a subject of scorn for daring to violate the ultimate historical taboo – one of the first victims of a new kind of assassination, that being the politics of personal destruction through ridicule (see below). It is a vehicle that the right-wing echo-chamber has used effectively for subjects dangerous to their agenda, and it has proven much more useful to them than a head-shot in a plaza somewhere.
I’ve always thought that whoever did whatever in the 1960s got the "right" people. Would the world have been better, more peaceful, less Vietnam-ish had Kennedy served for eight years instead of three? Imagine Martin Luther King as elder statesman during our multi-cultural revolution – at least he would have been around to knock down the absurd appropriation of his words by wing-nuts who claim that he would be against affirmative action, etc. Imagine Bobby riding the crest of the anti-war wave and his own magnetism (which, sorry, Obama does not get close to) in 1968 into the White House. Some of those who could see that possibility quite clearly put an end to that. It is hard to believe that the history that was changed – for the worse, in every way – by coincidental events driven by random nut-jobs.
For all the buzz-killing security that surrounds political events, shooting at a candidate or president is sooo 20th century. I mean, who was the last one to take a bullet, Reagan? Nut-cases, as part of an organization or otherwise, have other ways to "do" people who threaten their grand designs. People with a message or a cause – from Stone to Michael Moore to Cindy Sheehan – or successful politicians – from Al Gore to John Kerry to Howard Dean – are subject to ridicule by the right-wing echo-machine and that attitude is incorporated by self-appointed MSM know-it-alls. They end up as good as dead politically, without the added benefit of martyrdom. The only thing those subject to the politics of personal destruction get pointed at them is fingers, as people point and laugh.
A talking-point for the wing-nuts this week was that the Clintons were following one of Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals in their campaign against Obama. They cited this one: "Ridicule is man's most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counterattack ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, who then react to your advantage." It was a lie about the Clintons (one of the quotes supposedly indicating ridicule of Obama was that Bill called him a "highly intelligent symbol of transformation" – rough stuff, that) but it is another example of the right accusing Democrats of doing something they do every day as a matter of strategy and design. Harry Smith’s hysterical concerns notwithstanding, Obama doesn’t have to worry so much about a bullet as he does about the stink bombs that are sure to come flying from his temporary wing-nut friends after (if) he wraps up the nomination.
On this point, Paul Krugman got it just right this week:
- Those who don’t want to nominate Hillary Clinton because they don’t want to return to the nastiness of the 1990s — a sizable group, at least in the punditocracy — are deluding themselves. Any Democrat who makes it to the White House can expect the same treatment: an unending procession of wild charges and fake scandals, dutifully given credence by major media organizations that somehow can’t bring themselves to declare the accusations unequivocally false (at least not on Page 1). The point is that while there are valid reasons one might support Mr. Obama over Mrs. Clinton, the desire to avoid unpleasantness isn’t one of them.
As I’ve said before, you won’t even recognize Barack Obama by November if he is the nominee. Even if the GOP goes ahead with the congenial John McCain, their surrogates will try to destroy Obama by defining him in bizarre ways and ridiculing him with whatever they can find to blow out of proportion. No metal detector will protect him from the slings and arrows of his own outrageous fortune.