The thing that bothers me the most about Hillary Clinton’s interview with the South Dakota Sioux Falls Argus Leader was not so much the reference to RFK’s assassination, which strikes me as yet one more desperate attempt to rationalize her doomed candidacy. Clinton’s aren’t dumb, and since she made a similar reference before, of course she meant to stir up concerns about Obama.
The thing that bugs me most is that the broader tone of this interview makes me want to rethink the Clinton presidency from a new perspective, regrettably one which has the Clinton’s seeing their opponents through a very paranoid lens. The epiphany has to do with the subtext of the Argus Leader interview. Clinton’s paranoia was quite obvious in this interview, that her candidacy was somehow doomed from the start because she has been singled out unjustly and done in by some wily press/ right wing conspiracy. The Kennedy reference was just an example of her lashing out in this broader context.
Facts and accurate historical references had very little to do with Clinton’s comments. In fact the historical reference to Bill’s ’92 campaign was incorrect (Clinton was the only democrat running a nationally organized campaign in ’92; his opposition was scattered (Tsongas, Harkin, Kerry were never real threats) and he had the nomination sewn up by June), and the Kennedy reference failed to contend with the fact that Robert Kennedy didn’t get into the race until March and that Humphrey’s subsequent nomination was the result of decisions made in smoke filled rooms by party hacks, not primary victories (ie., different rules then).
And now, days after this interview, she is blaming Obama for making hay over it. The problem here is that Clinton’s victimhood has a sadly nostalgic tone to it, to a time when her enemies really were enemies. Richard Mellon Scaife was a real enemy of the Clinton’s, as was Rush Limbaugh, Rupert Murdoch and all the guys at Fox Noise. The problem is this “woe is me” narrative doesn’t stick against Obama or even Keith Olbermann. Rather, her accusations, and Bill’s, raise questions and invite some serious revisionist scrutiny of an awful lot of shinanigans back during the 90’s in which democrats and progressives bent over backwards to give the clinton’s the benefit of the doubt, much of which she is placing back in doubt. It is important to reexamine Clinton’s “reinventing government” initiative, NAFTA, welfare and immigration reforms, which all triggered sharp right ward ticks in the populace. It is important (perhaps) to reexamine the Mark Rich pardon, the sudden appearance of Rose law firm records, an so forth, from a principled position of appropriate ethics in government, as opposed to a Rush/Matt Drudge right wing pile on.
The sad thing here for me is that in these desperate days of her candidacy Hillary is revealing a seedier side to both Clinton’s that also existed no doubt during the Clinton heyday.