Pocochina’s Weblog

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on RFK

Posted by pocochina on May 25, 2008

I’m not going to talk about how the Rites of the All-High Masons of Media and Internet Communications have fully jumped the shark on this one.  Corrente did that already, and much better than I will, as did the brilliant Anglachel.

I’m not going to talk about how what Senator Clinton said was, in fact, rock-solid historical fact, as Riverdaughter and Red have already done, or that we are utterly foolish to construe it otherwise, as RFK, Jr.’s statement is far more important than anything from me could ever be.

What astounds me is that everyone in the world is so utterly convinced not just that there are historical parallels, but that the historical parallel in question is Senator Obama.  This is partially, of course, a function of the fact that I’ve never bought the myth that Senator Obama’s youth and virility automatically make him the missing Kennedy brother.  Neither candidate is Bobby Kennedy, nor should they be, not because I don’t find RFK deeply admirable – I do – but because they do not need to be specters of the past to be impressive.  If you think your candidate must be someone else reincarnated to be acceptable, perhaps you should rethink your choice of candidate.  If I were playing that game, however, I’d point out that no matter how many times you hold hands beneath a full moon with your fraternity brothers and chant over your director’s cut of Thirteen Days, stacked atop your updated edition of The Audacity of Hope, you won’t change the fact that RFK was widely perceived as the junior partner in a political dynasty, someone whose critics could only stammer that he was “ruthless” and did not shiver their timbers with his public speaking, though his devotion to justice was clear as a bell, that he bothered to show up in Appalachia, or that he’d actually won the California primary, so that particular historical narrative quite simply does not stand up to the facts, just to your squishy smooshy feelings, and you should think about that next time you accuse Clinton supporters of vagina voting.

I am not surprised, not in the least, that RFK is on Senator Clinton’s mind.  Not just because she is old enough to remember the pain of that moment and that, as Riverdaughter says so brilliantly in the post cited above,* it’s branded into our political consciousness that in 1968, the Democratic primary went until June, and California had its say, but because she is all to aware that she walks in his shoes.  It is not taboo in our public discourse, as the Actor Poorly Portraying Edward Murrow would have us believe, to mention assassination.  (Especially classy coming from you, Keith, you fucking scumbag.)  It is in fact a joke to many people wielding far too much power in our public discourse.  Such jokes are not just jokes. They function to desensitize the listener to the possibility of violence against her person.

She is not thinking of RFK because she wishes that fate on anyone.  This is patently clear.  She is thinking of Robert Kennedy because a supposed liberal commentator jokes about someone taking her into a room and “only he comes out,” because an elected representative suggests that she should be content with drowning lest we shoot her, because these are but the tip of the iceburg, the ones that got caught, but she and her ever-vigilant Secret Service detail know that they are heard by people who do not just think this is funny, but deadly serious.  She wasn’t just talking about history.   She, no less (and, if our news media’s threats were to be taken seriously, quite possibly more) than Senator Obama, must know that there are many who wish her the worst harm possible.  She must stare, some nights on the plane, when her eyes glaze over at tomorrow’s schedule, at her protection and wonder if they have practiced lately, wonder if they ran today, if they slept enough, if, if, if.  I can’t even describe my anger at everyone, fauxgressive, conservative, or apathetic, who screeches today about her evil intent but has laughed off the threats on her life, except to say that it is cold and it is fierce.

Senator Clinton was not calling for harm to befall Senator Obama.  She was referencing history, but she was not just doing that.  She was talking about the chill she must feel, at that which is a “joke” to the chattering classes, though she hides it well, when Sirhan Sirhan lifts up her hair and murmurs in her ear.

*I cite things so anyone reading can understand what I am saying.  If there are any jackass comments to this entry that contribute nothing except that the reader doesn’t understand how to click a hyperlink, I will hold said jackassery up for derision.

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