There has been an interesting claim floating around MyDD lately, that the Barack Obama campaign is Swiftboating Hillary by putting out the following statement in response to her remarks about RFK's assassination:
"Senator Clinton's statement before the Argus Leader editorial board was unfortunate and has no place in this campaign."
Let this sink in. The claim here is that calling such a remark "unfortunate," and pointing out that gratuitous references to assassination have no place in a presidential campaign somehow rises to the level of what Bush/Rove & co. did to John Kerry in 2004. The most prominent incarnation of this silliness can be found in this diary
by linfar (The first half of the diary is actually pretty good, and very moving. But then it makes a sharp turn to...well, let's say it starts to become less moving).
Swiftboating clearly is not what it used to be. You no longer need to form a 527. The million dollar ad campaign is no longer required. Hell, you don't even have to lie anymore. Now apparently all you need to do is wait for a candidate to say something thoughtless and then respond by expressing a tepid opinion of disapproval.
While we're here chatting amongst ourselves, sipping our latte or kool-aid, or slugging a beer or taking a shot with hard working white people (what's the deal with politics and beverages?), let's examine this tepid response from Obama's campaign.
Anyone who follows politics with any regularity quickly becomes familiar with political-speak, and the rhetorical devices that these fascinating and unusual creatures we elect to public office use. So I ask those of you who are politically astute, what does it generally signify when a politician uses a soft and tepid term of disapproval like "unfortunate" or "inappropriate?" Refer to the following example for guidance...
Several days after 9/11, the very Reverend Jerry Falwell and the equally pious Pat Robertson had the following conversation,
"God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve," said Falwell, appearing yesterday on the Christian Broadcasting Network's "700 Club," hosted by Robertson.
"Jerry, that's my feeling," Robertson responded. "I think we've just seen the antechamber to terror. We haven't even begun to see what they can do to the major population."
Falwell said the American Civil Liberties Union has "got to take a lot of blame for this," again winning Robertson's agreement: "Well, yes."
Interestingly, I don't remember O'Reilly ever grouping either of these two gentlemen in his esteemed "blame America first" crowd. But I digress.
Our dignified and heroic president responded to these outrageous remarks thusly,
A White House official called the remarks "inappropriate" and added, "The president does not share those views."
Inappropriate? How about irresponsible? How about despicable? How about batshit crazy? But no, Bush decided to call the remarks "Inappropriate."
Inappropriate. Unfortunate. These are the kinds of terms that politicians use when one of their political allies say something so completely ridiculously off the wall and provocative that they need to respond with some show of disapproval - just enough to distance themselves from it, but not so much that it pisses off their base (who might agree with aforementioned batshit).
Obama's campaign put out a press release calling Hillary's gratuitous reference to RFK's assassination "unfortunate." Swiftboating? Hardly. Those of us who speak politicseese understand that this is actually closer to an expression of friendship than a hostile rebuke.
So, uh...can't we all just get along? <Donning flame-proof vest and goggles>