On RFK, Clinton Should Have Known Better

Invoking opponent's killing 'sounds almost like wishful thinking'
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted May 24, 2008 10:25 AM CDT
Hillary Clinton has apologized for citing the assassination of RFK in defending her decision to stay in the presidential race.   (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
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(Newser) – Hillary Clinton used history to make a point, but her RFK gaffe provides a valuable lesson for those studying it: “There are taboos in presidential politics, and this is one of the biggest,” Libby Copeland writes in the Washington Post. Clinton has apologized for referring to the assassination in her rationale for staying in the race, but her comments “broke a double taboo,” because many fear Obama’s race makes him a bigger target.

“To raise the specter of a rival’s assassination is to make a truly terrible thing real. It sounds almost like wishful thinking. To be unaware that one’s words tap into a monumental fear that exists in a portion of the electorate—that Obama’s race could get him killed—is an unusual mistake for a serious and highly disciplined presidential candidate.”