On The States’ Assassination Fascination

The assassination holds an especially gruesome place in the political sphere. A split second can destroy a collective dream, ideology or potential peace.

Killings of this nature are far more significant than a murder – the crime becomes a statement.

Specific assassinations certainly exist in their respective context – Martin Luther King and Franz Ferdinand’s shootings took place within widely varied cultural climates, and with arguably different results – but mere mention of the fearsome verb can resonate far and wide.

That’s no more true than during the current primary here in the United States, where we seem to have a morbid love affair with assassinations and the myths they birth.

Every American child has received dozens of lessons on President Abraham Lincoln’s last act at Ford’s Theater, King’s fateful stay at the Lorraine Inn and John F. Kennedy’s trip to Dallas. The latter’s death remains an issue of contention and has spawned countless conspiracy theories, books and movies. Even those of us who weren’t yet born could describe that day in eerie detail.

The potential for assassination has surrounded this election season since last year, when Barack Obama received secret service protection following threats on his life. Obama became, quite famously, the first candidate of this race to get state-backed security. The reality of this threatened candidate’s endangered mortality has since become quite the talking point. And the assassination drama simply won’t quit. The reasons, however, may be deeper than just Obama’s candidacy.

Mike Huckabee fired first in this latest round of assassination gaffes. The former presidential candidate got only crickets when, during a speech to the NRA, he explained a loud bang back stage as someone taking a shot at Obama. The public was not amused and Huckabee later apologized. Considering all the flack Huckabee received, one would think – or hope – that politicians and pundits would steer clear of off-color references to assassination. Huckabee, it seems, simply broke the seal.

We’ll first address the most recent assassination reference. Former Washington Times journo and Fox News chatter box Liz Trotta gave viewers double trouble when she referred to Obama as “Osama,” then, after corrected her mistake, wondered if it wouldn’t be “good” if both men were “knocked off.” Here’s the video:


Trotta later appeared on Fox News to offer her most sincere apologies, which included a remark on how this is a “colorful” election and many others have been criticized for off-the-cuff remarks. Is that an argument for media moral disengagement, or something?

But, yes, Trotta’s right: people do need to watch their mouths. Just ask Hillary Clinton, who became a target after invoking Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination. The Senator, whom many have been pressuring to concede to Obama, was arguing why she should stay in the race and, in an awkward attempt to project a time line, reminded us of a dark June forty years ago: “We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California.” People were not pleased, to say the least.


Sensing an uproar, Clinton offered a tepid apology, but her “regret” for referencing that “trauma” proved to be too little and the Senator took pen to paper Sunday to again explain herself in New York’s Daily News:

I want to set the record straight: I was making the simple point that given our history, the length of this year’s primary contest is nothing unusual. Both the executive editor of the newspaper where I made the remarks, and Sen. Kennedy’s son, Bobby Kennedy Jr., put out statements confirming that this was the clear meaning of my remarks. Bobby stated, “I understand how highly charged the atmosphere is, but I think it is a mistake for people to take offense.”

…I was deeply dismayed and disturbed that my comment would be construed in a way that flies in the face of everything I stand for – and everything I am fighting for in this election.

It’s disturbing, yes, but one shouldn’t be that dismayed by the outcry over Clinton’s words. The potential tackiness aside, Clinton’s, Trotta’s and everyone else’s assassination references are given as much credence by this election’s cultural importance as by our collective fascination.

No one would argue that this will prove to be the States’ most impressive election in decades – and, perhaps, history. Not only will all three main contenders break barriers – gender, age or race – but they will have the task of redirecting a fragile and shell shocked nation. Nothing is as it was eight years ago. Nor should it be.

As in June of 1968 – and MLK’s last day in April of the same year – our nation remains in a severe state of flux. Not only are the candidates groundbreaking, but the “foundation” of American culture, marriage, has yet again been rocked toward liberalism. Iraq shows no signs of peace, tornadoes are ravaging America’s mid-section, the economy can’t seem to get it up and unemployment’s up, up and away. These are not times of peace and comfort. At the risk of being hyperbolic, America’s future hangs in the balance.
Voters sense the changing tide and our fear of violent disruption has helped bring the assassination issue to the forefront. It’s a bit of collective drama over what would be a disastrous turn of events: any one of our political leaders being assassination. All this talk almost makes it seem as if the press and public fear such a death inevitable. And that attitude could be far more dangerous than a simple slip-up.

Irish comic book writer Peter Milligan used our nation’s obsession with JFK’s death as a central plot point his DC Comic, Shade, The Changing Man. He writes, “[The Kennedy Sphinx] is American. It consumes. It eats. It’s easting away at America… The Kennedy Sphinx will keep eating America until America answers its riddle: Who killed John F. Kennedy?”

If present day America’s not careful, we’ll become too consumed by assassination worries to focus on the real task at hand: electing a new American president, not planning a funeral.

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  • M Shane

    Both Krugman and Bob Herbert(today) wrote in the Times about Clinton’s botch. The issue with that is that Afro American voters are pushed away, not wanting to vote Obama into an early death.

  • jacksmith



    Large numbers of BUSH_McCain Republicans have been voting for Barack Obama in the DEMOCRATIC primaries, and caucuses from early on with the backing and help of the medical and insurance industry. Under the direction of the George Bush, and Karl Rove vote fraud, and vote manipulation machine. Because they feel Barack Obama would be a weaker opponent against John McCain. And they want to stop Hillary Clinton from fixing the HUGE! American, and Global mess they have created. shocking!!! isn’t it. Just gotta love those good old draft dodging, silver spoon Texas boys. Not! :-(

    You see, the medical and insurance industry mostly support the republicans with the money they ripped off from you. And they don’t want you to have quality, affordable universal health care. They want to be able to continue to rip you off, and kill you and your children by continuing to deny you life saving medical care that you have already paid for. So they can continue to make more immoral profits for them-selves off of you, and your children’s suffering.

    With Hillary Clinton you are almost 100% certain to get quality affordable universal health care for everyone very soon. And you are also certain to see major improvements in the economy for everyone.

    The American people face even worse catastrophes ahead than the ones you are living through now. It will take all of the skills, and experience of Hillary Clinton to pull the American people out of this mess we are in. Fortunately fixing up, and cleaning up others incompetence, immoral degeneracy, and mess is what the Clinton’s do very well.

    Hillary Clinton has actually won by much larger margins than the vote totals showed. And lost by much smaller vote margins than the vote totals showed. Her delegate count is actually much higher than it shows. And higher than Obama’s. She also leads in the electoral college numbers that you must win to become President in the November national election. HILLARY CLINTON IS ALREADY THE TRUE DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE!

    Just look at Oregon for example. Obama won Oregon by about 70,000 votes. But approximately 79,000 Bush republicans switched party’s back in January to vote for Obama in the democratic primary. They are not going to vote for, or support any Democrat in November. Are you DEMOCRATS going to put up with that. Are you that stupid, and weak. The Bush republicans think you are that stupid, and weak.

    As much as 30% of Obama’s primary, and caucus votes are Republicans trying to choose the weakest democratic candidate for McCain to run against. These Republicans have been gaming the caucuses, and open primaries where it is easier to vote cheat. This is why Obama has not been able to win the BIG! states primaries. Even with Republican vote cheating help. Except North Carolina where 35% of the population is African American, and approximately 90% of them block voted for him. African Americans are only approximately 17% of the general population.

    Hillary Clinton has been OUT MANNED! and OUT SPENT! 4 and 5 to 1. Yet Obama has only been able to manage a very tenuous, and questionable tie with Hillary Clinton. This is even more phenomenal when you consider she has been also fighting against the George Bush, Karl Rove vote fraud machine in the DEMOCRATIC primaries, and caucuses. Hillary Clinton is STUNNING!.

    If Obama is the democratic nominee for the national election in November he will be slaughtered. That is crystal clear now. Because all of the Republican vote cheating help will suddenly evaporate. And the demographics, and experience are completely against him. All of this vote fraud and Bush republican manipulation has made Obama falsely look like a much stronger candidate than he really is.

    You will have another McGovern catastrophe where George McGovern lost 49 of 50 states. And was the reason the super-delegates were created to keep that from happening again. Don’t let that happen to the party and America again super-delegates. You have the power to prevent it. The only important question now is who can best win in November. And the answer is HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON. That fact is also now crystal clear.

    And YOUNG PEOPLE. DON’T BE DUPED! Think about it. You have the most to lose. As do African Americans. Support Hillary Clinton. She will do her best for all of you. And she will know how to best get it done on day one.

    The democratic party needs to fix this outrage. Everyone needs to throw all your support to Hillary Clinton NOW! So you can end this outrage against YOU the voter, and against democracy.

    The democratic party, and the super-delegates have a decision to make. Are the democrats, and the democratic party going to choose the DEMOCRATIC party nominee to fight for the American people. Or are the republicans going to choose the DEMOCRATIC party nominee through vote fraud, and gaming the DEMOCRATIC party primaries, and caucuses.

    Fortunately the Clinton’s have been able to hold on against this fraudulent outrage with those repeated dramatic, and heroic comebacks of Hillary Clinton’s. Only the Clinton’s are that resourceful, and strong. Hillary Clinton is your NOMINEE. They are the best I have ever seen. Probably the best there has ever been. :-)

    “This is not a game” (Hillary Clinton)


    jacksmith… Working Class :-)

    p.s. Cynthia Ruccia – I’m with ya baby. All the way. “Clinton Supporters Count Too.”

  • BillieXX


    :-) Some Clinton supporters are funny.

  • M Shane

    It’s over guys; The Dem party doesn’t just want another McCain. Ann Coulter puts her support on Hillary over McCain: what does that say.
    It’s not electability, it’s the qualities of the nominee.

  • Gregory

    Who’s the comic book fan? Referencing Peter Milligan is hot.

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