Senior Correspondent

FCN Editorial – Is America’s attitude changing? (FCN Editorial, 01-14-2008)

WASHINGTON ( – Sen. Barack Obama has survived what may have been the ugliest weeks yet in the 2008 Presidential campaign.

Within a few days, Republican former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee joked during a speech before the National Rifle Association about someone pointing a gun at the Black senator from Illinois, while his chief Democratic rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton seemed to openly wish for a tragedy, like the assassination of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy late in the 1968 presidential campaign, might befall Sen. Obama.


Then there was a Georgia newspaper, The Roswell Beacon, that depicted him in a rifle crosshairs. Its May 15 cover read: “White Fright,” with the headline, “Local Law Enforcement Braces for Obama Backlash.” The newspaper later published an extensive apology for the graphic on the cover, saying the story inside called for greater law enforcement against White supremacist groups inflamed by Mr. Obama’s success.

In response to May 23 questions about whether her continued, likely futile campaign harms Democratic Party unity, Sen. Clinton told the Sioux Falls Idaho Leader newspaper: “I don’t, because again, I’ve been around long enough. You know my husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere around the middle of June.”

“June,” an editorial board member confirmed.

“We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. Um you know I just I don’t understand it. There’s lots of speculation about why it is.”

Sen. Clinton apologized to the Kennedy family for her remarks. “The Kennedys have been much on my mind the last days because of Sen. Kennedy and I regret that if my referencing that moment of trauma for our entire nation, and particularly for the Kennedy family was in any way offensive,” she said.

Many political observers were outraged over what they argue was the clear meaning of Sen. Clinton’s statement, that she should stay in the race and not be forced out because something bad could still happen to Sen. Obama.

Keith Olbermann, a TV host on MSNBC, blasted Mrs. Clinton for her words, saying references to assassination were never appropriate and were unfit for anyone hoping to be president. His scathing 10-minute commentary recounted how assassination and attempted assassinations were horrendous moments in U.S. political history. Mr. Olbermann condemned her words as “insensitive,” “dark,” and “unforgivable.”

Gov. Huckabee’s ugly “joke” was just as tasteless. During his May 16 NRA address, there was a loud noise off-stage. “That was Barack Obama. He just tripped off his chair,” Mr. Huckabee said as the crowd roared with laughter. “He’s getting ready to speak,” Mr. Huckabee went on, “And somebody aimed a gun at him and he–he dove to the floor.” Mr. Huckabee issued an apology later that same day saying that his offhand remark was offensive and that he never intended to disparage Mr. Obama.

“We have yet to see how ugly it’s going to get in the general election. This is merely the opening salvo,” Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III, an associate professor of political science at Howard University told The Final Call.

“I think the leveling elements in (Sen.) Obama’s favor are the economy and the war. If the economy were better and we weren’t in the war, I think he’d be done, even if he got the nomination,” Dr. Leon continued.

The general election will be close, he said, but because of such a poor economy, people will vote their “pocketbooks.”

At the same time, Democrats may be poised to win even larger majorities in November’s House, Senate, gubernatorial, and state legislative contests. Democratic candidates recently won two long held Republican house seats. One in Mississippi, the other in Louisiana.

“Things in America have gotten so bad that White folks will even look to a Black man to fix them. That’s how bad things are. It’s not a matter of how things are getting, it’s a matter of how bad things really are,” Dr. Leon said.