May 24, 2008

Hillary Clinton and the non-apology.

I called bullshit on HC's "apology" yesterday, but let's look at it more closely:

Language Log has the in-depth analysis of the transcript:
The apologizer's goal is to cite the narrowest possible range of offended people and reasons for offense. Thus it's not an accident that Senator Clinton mentioned the feelings of the Kennedy family and others about mentioning RFK's assassination, but not the feelings of those who were shocked by the implication that she should stay in the race in case her opponent is killed.
Read the whole thing.

You know, if she'd come right out and said I'm staying in the race because Barack Obama might be assassinated, it would have been — in addition to outrageous — nonsensical. If she dropped out, and he was then killed, the party would have to turn to someone, and it would obviously be her. How is staying in the race a special way to preserve her claim on the nomination in case of his death?

So, then, does this mean that we should believe her assertion that she wasn't really saying I'm staying in the race because Barack Obama might be assassinated? But her point about how late the nomination was decided in 1968 doesn't make much sense either. In that year, the first primary — New Hampshire — was on March 12th. This year, the New Hampshire primary was January 8th and the Iowa caucus was January 3rd. So the process got under way more than 2 months earlier.

In conclusion, I would like to apologize to Andrew Sullivan. On Thursday, I took him to task for calling Hillary Clinton a sociopath.


ballyfager said...

The more exposure someone gets, the more they are revealed to be who they are.

The smartest woman in the world? Please.

What will it take for the people who defend her, even now, to see her for what she is - naked ambition.

No talent, no scruples, no principles, no qualifications, just naked ambition.

Meade said...

"In conclusion, I would like to apologize to Andrew Sullivan."

Yes, but will you?

rhhardin said...

It's the news audience that's sociopaths. They don't understand what an apology is, instead taking certain motions as the real thing.

``A further illustration of the difference between ritual concerns and substantive ones comes from occasions of accident in which the carelessness of one individual is seen as causing injury or death to another. Here there may be no way at all to compensate the offended, and no punishment may be prescribed. All that the offend[er] can do is say he is sorry. And this expression itself may be relatively little open to gradation. The fact - at least in our society - is that a very limited set of ritual enactments are available for contrite offenders. Whether one runs over another's sentence, time, dog, or body, one is more or less reduced to saying some variant of ``I'm sorry.'' The variation in degree of anguish expressed by the apologizer seems a poor reflection of the variation in loss possible to the offended. In any case, while the original infraction may be quite substantive in its consequence, the remedial work, however vociferous, is in these cases still largely expressive. And there is a logic to this. After an offense has occurred, the job of the offender is to show that it was not a fair expression of his attitude, or, when it evidently was, to show that he has changed his attitude to the rule that was violated. In the latter case, his job is to show that whatever happened before, he now has a right relationship - a pious attitude - to the rule in question, _and this is a matter of indicating a relationship, not compensating a loss_''

_Relations in Public_ ``Remedial Interchanges'' p.117-118

Meade said...

For the (blog of) record, I don't think, in my unlicensed non-credentialed opinion, that Hillary Clinton is a sociopath. I do think she has a serious personality disorder and is married to a diagnosable sociopath.

Hillary mental? She's a minor leaguer.

Peter Hoh said...

You forget the part where you need to express regret that anyone might have been offended by your disagreement with Andrew Sullivan.

Mark Daniels said...

I do think that Hillary Clinton will say anything and do anything to be elected, Ann. But I don't think that she mean to say that she's still in the race in case Barrack Obama is killed. She was talking, I think, about June and how when Bobby Kennedy was shot late on June 5, 1968, he was still in the race.

I think that's a bogus argument and posted a piece about that in two places early this morning:

If Clinton meant to say she was betting on Obama being killed, she is a sociopath. Whatever her faults, I don't think she's that.

Mark Daniels

Unknown said...

"How is staying in the race a special way to preserve her claim on the nomination in case of his death?"

True! And mentioning it only serves to eliminate her if such a terrible thing happened. As I said Time says she told them the exact same thing, so it's not a slip of the tongue.

She's nuts.

Unknown said...

"But her point about how late the nomination was decided in 1968 doesn't make much sense either. In that year, the first primary — New Hampshire — was on March 12th. This year, the New Hampshire primary was January 8th and the Iowa caucus was January 3rd. So the process got under way more than 2 months earlier.'

You need to stop getting your talking points from Drudge. It actually makes total sense. Because maybe Hilary wasn't familiar that the first primary started until March 12th in 1968. I wasn't aware of that, and I honestly doubt you were before yesterday as well. Let's stop pretending that the start date for the 1968 New Hampshire primary is just common knowledge that OF COURSE everyone knows off the top of their head.

That's just silly.

JSF said...


The rhetoric used by Senator Clinton is typical of the Left. look at their rhetoric (on Air America, pacifica radio, on blogs) against Conservatives, Republicans and President Bush over the past 7 years.

Like the 10 years old kid willing to kill the current President, folks like Trumpit, AlphaLiberal and Feder see no problem wishing ill or harm on people who disagree with them.

Senator Clinton followed what the rest of the Democrats did.

Unknown said...

"Maybe hillary wasn't familiar"

I find it hard to believe, since she's been actively asserting this June is like those of other primary seasons. Given the benefit of the doubt, after she made the comparison the first time, a few weeks ago-- is it likely that no one would have said to her, "Uh actually--?" More than likely, she's just assuming that other people won't remember. She continues to put herself in an heroic light, trading on the association with Kennedy's death, and the fact that many people have in their minds already that African American candidate endures a danger that other candidates don't. It's of a piece with her insistence that the fate of Florida's voters was not the outcome of some DNC maneuvering to which she was a party-- it was the Clinton's party, then, for heaven's sake-- but is somehow like Zimbabwe and the civil rights movement. She has an endless capacity for self-aggrandizing rationalizations.

Unknown said...

Where is this evidence that black candidates are more likely to be assassinated than white candidates.

Hilary is the first serious woman to run for President (or at least get this close). Why is it inconceivable that somebody wouldn't want to assassinate her?

Again - I'm 100% convinced that she sees herself as Bobby Kennedy, not Obama.

There are plenty of reasons not to vote for Hilary. This is not one of them.

Anonymous said...

Anybody who is offended by this statement is way to determined to find offence. There is absolutely nothing wrong ever with citing history as long as the history you cite is accurate.

Grow up. If you're old enough to post here, you're old enough to be tolerant.

Get a life!

rhhardin said...

John and Ken (KFI) wonder what is on the assassination card. Lincoln, is the speculation.

Peter Hoh said...

DTL, it was a big deal that everyone moved up the primary dates this year, or that they've been creeping forward since the 70s or 80s.

One may not know the exact date of the first primary of 1968, but knowing they started in March is like knowing that the 1968 baseball season started in April. And I'm not going to google it to find out if that's correct.

Mortimer Brezny said...


Obviously, you have wandered over here from TPM, a liberal blog where no on agrees with you. The commenters here will not like you much more, if at all, as liberals are generally despised around here. Please go back to where you belong.

As for finding offense, Hillary apologized to the Kennedy family and had RFK's son excuse her, so it is pretty obvious she realized she made an error. You can't successfully run for President on the Democratic side while publicly apologizing to the Kennedy dynasty. That makes no fucking sense. That's like running for electoral office in India on a "Gandhi was a pussy" platform.

rhhardin said...

She could have mentioned that she's staying in because she has more votes.

The sudden story that the race was over made no sense, when I guess Russert started it.

I'd like the backstory on that one.

Obama as nominee gets more ratings?

rhhardin said...

John and Ken mentioned that the assassination meme came up early for Obama, chiefly as a fear of black supporters, and wondered where it came from.

They guessed that it was a reaction to Obama seeming too perfect.

Obama never for a second seemed perfect in any degree to me, so you have to imagine a child-mind at work I guess.

Does Obama seem too perfect to Hillary? She'd see right through him in a similar second.

John and Ken podcasts, the 3PM and 5PM hours for the 23rd. Each runs about 35 minutes.

Chip Ahoy said...

HaHaHa. I note your own apology cites the narrowest possible range of offended people.

Kim said...

Now I'm lost. Take me through the logic again. I hear the mention of Bill Clinton and Bobby Kennedy but where is the reference to Obama?

John Kindley said...

So what does your son, the Hillary delegate, think about all this? Have you sat him down and given him a good talking-to?

George M. Spencer said...

There's a lot of tension and anger in the air--the economy's rocky, oil's up, inflation everywhere, no end to the housing crisis in sight, commercial real estate is off, horrible earthquake in China, ominous vibes in the Middle East (as always)--Sen. Clinton's continuing presence in the race is one bit of stress that people sense that they can exert some control over. The weather's hardly heated up yet.

Meade said...

George said:
"The weather's hardly heated up yet"

There you go picking on Bill Ayers again.

Meade said...

from the NYTimes: It was against that backdrop that Mrs. Clinton’s mentioning the Kennedy assassination in the same breath as her own political fate struck some as going too far. Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, an uncommitted superdelegate, said through a spokeswoman that the comments were“beyond the [whiter shade of] pale.”

George M. Spencer said...

Underground...a good place to weather 2012.

There's even a

George M. Spencer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Reflective Nomad said...

Getalife, yes, you probably should.

Unless you decide you'd rather be willfully ignorant, there is no rational person who doubts that an African American is in a much more danger than say a white man or woman.

It is by the next day of announcing his presidency that Obama started getting numerous hateful death threats to the extent that it alarmed the democratic party to act and assign him more secret service agents than any presidential candidate has ever had - rivaling Bush's current agents. No presidential candidate has ever had to be assigned the secret service as early in the campaign either.

eebaltimore said...


A few nights ago, Michelle Bernard,(BIG-time Obama supporter) of the Independent Women’s Voice, said on the Chris Matthews show,

“If she (Sen. Clinton) manages to steal the nomination from him (Obama), black people will riot in the streets.”

Why is there no uproar about this? Inciting & fomenting riots if blacks don’t get their way? What a racist, insensitive thing for a smart, black, professional woman to say!!!

How can people get away with this sort of statement? Why don’t you Obama people protest this insult??? In riots, hundreds of people could be killed, property destroyed, etc.

Obama people, where is your outrage??? Let MSNBC know how you feel!!!

amba said...

You know, by God, I think she actually is a sociopath.

Ram said...


I also found that remark from Michelle Barnard to be bit off-putting.

I'm struggling for a reason as to why it might be different from Hillarity's remark... it's tough ... gosh... hmm....

OH!!! Wait a minute.

Barnard's not running for president dumbass and only a handful of wonks like us know what she said. Get a grip.

rcocean said...

Am I the only one bored with this constant cycle of "gaffes", canned outrage, non-apologies, and demands for more apologies?

Its all just trivial pursuit. Politicians talk 24/7 and they'll always misspeak every once and a while.

Mfinn said...

It is so typical of Mrs. Clinton that she "apologized" to the Kennedy family but not to the Obamas or, for that matter, the McCains. She equates ASSASSINATION with all the other vagaries of a long primary campaign. How many N-word email threats has the Obama campaign received? How often has the Secret Service detail gone into total desperation mode when Obama and HIS FAMILY have appeared in these huge rally settings in cities where definite and credible threats have been made? This woman is completely crazy if she cannot see how severely wrong this comment of hers is. I have black friends who pray every morning that Barack be preserved from murder. Starting today, he is on my list as well.

vbspurs said...

Hillary is not at her best when being "sensitive".

That voice of regret made her sound like you just roused her from a deep sleep, on the phone, and she was busy getting their thoughts together whilst wiping her chin of spittle.

I note Amba thinks she might well be a sociopath.

Aren't sociopaths convincing though? She doesn't convince me.


garage mahal said...

How is staying in the race a special way to preserve her claim on the nomination in case of his death?

She doesn't have to stay in the race to preserve her claim to the nomination in case of his death! She could suspend her campaign now, and if Obama was assassinated, who in all likelyhood be the nominee? Hillary with her half of the delegates. This obvious fact has escaped the Hillary Watchers.

DADvocate said...

Obama's no less of a sociopath than Hillary. I'd go into further explanation but if you don't see it now, you never will.

Fat Man said...

"In that year, the first primary — New Hampshire — was on March 12th."

I never thought that 1968 would seem to be part of a more civilized era.

JP said...

Obama is to Hillary what Marx was to Trotsky. . . just saying

Obama needs Hillary to remain in until the last primary. He needs it less now than he did last week though. She could really have given fuel to McCain by dropping out just before Kentucky and she still would have won by 3 to 1.
That doesn't look good on a nominee's CV. . . "Lost to someone not even in the race."
I doubt she was referring to Obama being a bullet catcher. She is just that clueless to realize her phrasing could have been better (helped that he is that touchy, Bush never mentioned him and he was first to cry "Foul!!"). RFK would have been a point(though a bad one, but the Name was her target, not relative times into campaigning) if she would have emphasized that he was still running in June.

Heh. She actually "misspoke" for a change. As opposed to outright lying and claiming it was misspeaking.

Simon said...

amba said...
"You know, by God, I think she actually is a sociopath."

Hillary is a sociopath for pointing out that the frontrunner at this time in 1968 didn't get the nomination? And what of Michelle Obama, who not only believes but admits in public - without apparent embarrassment - that she thinks Americans are "uninvolved, uninformed" people with broken souls that are in need of fixing by her husband?

Mortimer Brezny said...

Hillary is a sociopath for pointing out that

Please. She already apologized. It's over.

Meade said...

Victoria said:

"I note Amba thinks she might well be a sociopath.

Aren't sociopaths convincing though? She doesn't convince me."

If true, that is good news as it would also rule out Mortimer Brezny.

Rich Beckman said...

Although there are people who complain about the length of the process, I have understood that most of those who are criticizing Hillary for not dropping out of the race are more concerned with the ever decreasing time between "now" and the general election.

The dates of the first primaries are not all that relevant.

I do think that too much is being read into Hillary's remark. She just misspoke, making a clumsy reference to a primary contest that was still being contested in June.

Meade said...

It's 3 AM and your children are safe and asleep. Which sociopath do you want answering the phone and misspeaking?

Doug Fletcher said...

I just want to know whether or not Sullivan is a Christian.

Fen said...

getalife: Anybody who is offended by this statement is way to determined to find offence. There is absolutely nothing wrong ever with citing history as long as the history you cite is accurate. Grow up. If you're old enough to post here, you're old enough to be tolerant. Get a life!

Ha ha. Don't look at me. I've seen this act played out so many times... against conservatives. Of course, thats why those of us on the Right can't help but look at this particular trainwreck over a mere gaffe. At least now you have a taste of what we have to deal with every election season.

And thanks - its been fun watching you guys on the Left play identity politics against each other.

*someone please pass the popcorn*

Anonymous said...

This is a huge nonissue. No one except the most disturbed and paranoid Obamabots think that Clinton was trying to incite an assasin or even suggest that it could happen. Unfortunately, most of these poor souls work within the media and host blogs. Now that Obama, Bobby, Jr., and the Virgin Mary (Obama's mother) have denied any bad faith by Clinton, perhaps we can put this matter to rest.

PS: Andrew Sullivan is not a mere sociopath, Ann. He's a neurotic, borderline, obsessive-compulsive sociopath. Apologies to the neurotic, borderline, obsessive-compulsive sociopaths out there, but you're the closest fit for him.

reader_iam said...

The unadorned Althouse masthead is the truest representation ever to grace the top of this blog. That's it, and that's all. (Kudos.)

reader_iam said...

As to all these "diagnoses,": Feh.

garage mahal said...

Apologies to the neurotic, borderline, obsessive-compulsive sociopaths out there, but you're the closest fit for him.

I did take offense you referred to Sullivan as only a "borderline" obsessive-compulsive sociopath.

Charlie Martin said...

Folks, I've just refreshed myself on the DSM-IV characteristics of sociopathy (or rather psychopathy, antisocial personality disorder, and dissocial personality disorder, since sociopathy is no longer an accepted diagnosis) and I can say with some confidence that diagnosaing her as a sociopath is, as we put it in medical school, nuts.

I believe the diagnosis you're looking for here is "self-centered manipulative bastard."

Russ and Dottie said...

If a gaffe is an inadvertent expression of what one really thinks, then this gaffe is as fair game as "bitter" and "cling." And it should stick to her as much as Obama's gaffes have been stuck to him.
The Language Log and Goffman quotes are brilliant and clarifying, and your analysis, Ann, of why her statements about the time line, etc. don't make sense, are the best I've seen in many many blogs on the Web.
On Below the Beltway, I found a 10-minute version of the interview which has some interesting and valuable policy suggestions:
Her reference to RFK in this interview is close to inexplicable and is distressing. Distress notwithstanding, I benefit from learning how she thinks. The longer version of the interview doesn't add any context as far as I can see.

What's really distressing is that she had a good stopping point--people in the remaining states want to vote and that's why she's continuing the campaign. Even as an Obama supporter, I'm saddened that she continued to speak and, IMHO, destroyed her chances of gaining the nomination for either POTUS or VPOTUS. Caringthinkingperson, over in DailyKos, addresses her continuing to speak well:

vbspurs said...

Guys, this is small potatoes, but since we're talking of gaffes, the Walking Gaffe Man (WGM) had another rare clanger today.

He was in Florida, specificially in Sunrise (a suburb of Ft. Lauderdale), when he incredibly misspoke their name and said:

"It's good to be in Sunshine!!"

Not once. But several times.

Here it on Youtube here.

Good to know Geography is not overemphasised in Columbia or Harvard.


reader_iam said...

Oh, blah blah blah.

Ain't it handy that the "icons" (now so many years, even decades, back in the day, and of both flavors) then operated in an environment in which neither election seasons, or primary seasons (a subset, then) weren't so damn elongated?

Oops!--excuse me for bringing that up again; I know it's SO annoying to those who'd prefer an all-political, all-partisan, all-election season all of the time.

I'm working on it. Really. I'm working on it.

reader_iam said...

"Good" to know that longer-term perspective is engendered by involvement in this here Internet.


reader_iam said...

(And this has nothing to do with the specific candidate being gored. That's not what I'm concerned about.


blake said...

Someone ran an analysis of HRC after the Bosnian "gaffe"--which, like this, was hardly a gaffe, but a repeated story. I think it was this piece on The Huffington Post.

If it's true that she constructs realities to change her history into what she wants--and I'm not saying it is--but then changing the future should be no issue either.

In other words, perhaps she's already imagined a scenario where something terrible happens to Obama, and she's there to pick up the pieces. And by "imagined", I mean, created a future in her head where that's already happened.

As long as we're making crazy-ass off-the-wall diagnoses, I mean.

Jane said...

Her using a historical fact to state her underlined thinking is correct. She said herself that many things have been on her mind, with Ted Kennedy's heath conditions, and of course her struggle to stay in the race.
That the primaries went late into the month of June is a fact, for both men, her husband's case and the one of Bob Kennedy. The assassination of Bob is sad because it shows that democratical values are not acquired for good, it's a fight. Her own fight teaches her that.
Now I find the fact that BO and his camp jump onto a significant remark and spin it onto the press to feed into the psyche of the public shows to me how he himself is polarizing . Where is the proof that she meant it for him?
Her comparing earlier of her staying in the race with the situation of Tsvangirai (Zimbabwe elections) who is "a flawed but enduring candidate "(NY Times article), would make me think more of how undemocratic the situation is for her, since she is pressed to drop out.
Instead the press and BO supporters serve their own targeting : he the poor black candidate who might be assassinated and she the villain lady Macbeth, a doomed figure.
No she is not Lady Macbeth. This is poor soap-opera drama and the issue at hand is far more serious than apparently and superficially played in public.
Why don't people apologize for projecting their own negative?

Anonymous said...

Hello, Ann,

Hillary's statement to the editorial board is easily understandable as a "stream of consciousness" response. To defend her decision to stay in until (at least) June, she's referencing other campaigns that have lasted until June. For people who were alive and politically conscious in June of '68, Bobby Kennedy's campaign and assassination are rather closely intertwined, for obvious reasons.

As the media has since pointed out, Hillary has mentioned RFK's assassination in this very same context before, not once but several times. The assassination is the most vivid recollection of the period, and obviously that's how she remembers it.

But to put it most simply, RFK, Jr., came out and said publicly that he wasn't offended, that he understood the reference as she said she meant it, and that people shouldn't get too exercised over it. When the person most likely to be offended says the remark is not offensive, other people making hay out of it begins to look less like righteous indignation and more like political posturing.

Ritmo Re-Animated said...

So now an obscure suburb of Fort Lauderdale, FL becomes Harvard-level geography. Do colleges still teach geography? They do history.

Columbia was law school - little to do with geography.

"Small potatoes" or something "incredibly" big?

sueNaustin said...

I have never been on this site before, but I was reading all the comments, but I had to laugh at the person who was saying "Bob Kennedy". I mean, seriously, I am 50 years old, and I never heard of him referred to as Bob.

This site seems to be a nitpicker site, so there you are. That is my nit to pick.

Marvino Guardino said...

Prof. A.,

Apologies are good when genuine--see Hill's. Yours is probably superfluous. You and A.S. can both be right.
More about that here

Rick Taylor said...

"In conclusion, I would like to apologize to Andrew Sullivan."

Yup. And he was quite right basing his conclusions on her statements about Michigan and Florida. That's what tipped me off, and I voted for Hillary Clinton early on in the process. That's also when a number of progressive blogs fell away, when she made it clear she was going to fight for the delegates in an unsanctioned primary the parties including her and Obama agreed not to participate in, in which Obama wasn't even on the ballot; and she was stated the results might not be viewed as legitimate if the DNC didn't rule her way. Fighting hard within the process is one thing; attacking he legitimacy of it is quite another.

--Rick Taylor

doc said...

Please - a little historical accuracy:

At the time of the California primary (June 4, 1968), the candidate leading in delegates was:
Hubert Humphrey.
The candidate leading in popular vote was:
Eugene McCarthy

There were only 13 states with primaries at that time; the remaining states had their delegates selected by party leaders (analagous to superdelegates now).

So....Bobby Kennedy was NOT the frontrunner at the time of his assassination, and was relying on the superdelgates to help him get selected for the nomination at the convention.

doc said...

Oops - should have been June 5, 1968.

Politically Motivated said...

And take a look at the verbatim similarities to her comments almost two months ago...