Although the two would-be killers' roots are different, their plots were both symptoms of the 1970s, the "goofiest decade of the century for California … in terms of its sheer ominous weirdness," said Kevin Starr, USC history professor and state librarian emeritus.The 70s! They were horrible. Assassins are horrible in any decade, but here the assassins are not only horrible for being assassins, they symbolize the decade. The 70s!
"Moore's style was middle-class, whereas Squeaky Fromme was a genuine cultist. Moore represented the individual derangement of the period and Squeaky the social derangement," said Starr. The assassination attempts — Fromme's in Sacramento and Moore's in San Francisco — also contributed to "an atmosphere of lawlessness" in Northern California, Starr said, compounded by such 1970s events as the Patty Hearst kidnapping, the slaying of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and the mass suicide of the Jonestown cultists.
Others say the acts symbolized an unraveling of American society in the aftermath of Watergate and the Vietnam War.
"A lot of people were rolling around unmoored, finding a reason to believe there was a political or conspiratorial explanation for their inner upheaval and concluding if they could only act on their impulse, they could save the world," said Todd Gitlin, professor of journalism and sociology at Columbia University and a former leader of the Students for a Democratic Society whose books include "The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage."
December 29, 2006
Two women who tried to kill Gerald Ford. Must we look at them again? No, but we want to anyway: