Hillary Clinton made one point, and one point only, in referencing Robert F. Kennedy's assassination. And that's that the Democratic presidential nomination fight has, in times passed, stretched up to and through June. She used RFK as an example. He was assassinated in June and at the time he was still in the thick of the fight for the nomination. The point again is there's nothing unusual about Democrats fighting for the nomination through June even in the face of a national shock such as the Kennedy assassination.
Clinton quickly clarified what she meant by her Kennedy assassination reference, and apologized for any unintended offense for it. But not surprisingly that didn't and won't end the Clinton backlash. There are three primaries on June 1. The day before that the Democratic National Committee's rules committee will hold a crucial meeting to determine what if anything to do about the votes and the delegates from the much disputed and challenged Florida and Michigan primaries.
Clinton could well win one or two of the June 1 primaries. It's remote, but there's still the outside chance that the rules committee could decide to award the pledged delegates from the Florida primary to Clinton. (There's less chance with Michigan since Obama's name was not on the ballot in that state's primary).
There are three compelling reasons for awarding her Florida. Obama's name was on the ballot in Florida. Nearly 2 million voters cast ballots in Florida, and the overwhelming majority of them voted in good faith for Clinton. Florida is an absolute must win state for the Democrats. By cavalierly erasing the state's votes and the pledged delegates, Democrats run the real risk of alienating thousands of Florida Democrats, especially large number of Jewish and Hispanic voters who at best are lukewarm toward Obama. A Clinton favorable decision in Florida combined with a primary win or two on June 1, along with winning the votes of a considerable number of still uncommitted super delegates could wreak havoc on the carefully planned and orchestrated march to Obama Democratic nomination inevitability.
Clinton's Kennedy assassination remark then was heaven sent ammunition to further blast her for staying in the race. But if she hadn't allegedly misspoke on Kennedy it would have been another Clinton remark, no matter how innocent, innocuous or factually pointed that would be used to tar her.
A few days before the Kennedy flap a piqued Clinton complained loud, long, and correctly about the harsh, savage, and non stop double standard in how her remarks on any and everything are relentlessly twisted, mangled, and hacked up. She wasn't just talking about the media. She was talking about some within and without the Democratic Party. This is deliberate, and it has only one aim, and that's to get her to stand aside in the nomination fight. The hope was and is that a battered, ridiculed, and caricatured Clinton will be seen as an unfit and unworthy candidate for the nomination, a candidate who carries to many negatives to have any chance at a White House win.
The polls that show her doing as well if not better than Obama against McCain mean nothing. The millions that enthusiastically voted for her and cheer her on mean nothing. Her major big state primary wins mean nothing. Clinton is simply viewed by many Democratic Party insiders as a liability who must be written off, and the quicker the better.
Her Kennedy remark, apology and clarification, won't mean much either. It will only increase the drumbeat calls for her to withdraw. Clinton and RFK deserve better and neither will get it.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His new book is The Ethnic Presidency: How Race Decides the Race to the White House (Middle Passage Press, February 2008).