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George W. Bush's presidency since 2007

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George W. Bush's presidency from 2005-06

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George W. Bush's presidency, 2000-04

Who Is Bob Gates?
The secret world of Defense Secretary Gates

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Rev. Sun Myung Moon and American politics.

Contra Crack
Contra drug stories uncovered

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America's tainted historical record

The October Surprise "X-Files"
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From free trade to the Kosovo crisis.

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Hillary's Shark-Jumping Moment

By Lisa Pease
May 24, 2008


Editor’s Note: When a TV series, a movie – or even a political campaign – is pushing the edges of believability, there can occur what has become known as the “shark-jumping moment,” when the story line goes too far.


For some American voters, that moment for Hillary Clinton came when she boasted of her success with “hard-working Americans, white Americans.” In this guest essay, historian Lisa Pease says the moment arrived for her Friday when Clinton defended her continued campaign by citing Robert Kennedy’s 1968 assassination:

Okay. I am SO DONE with the Clintons.

I was no fan of theirs during their administration. And Hillary Clinton has run one of the most negative campaigns in modern history against Barack Obama, who, by contrast, has managed to stay, rather miraculously, above the fray. …

It's been disgusting to me personally to have her carrying any banner for the Democratic party, of which I've been a proud member all my life, because I feel she undermines our values.

She complains she's gotten unfair treatment because she's a woman. But Obama never complained he got unfair treatment because he was black. McCain doesn't complain about getting unfair treatment because he's old.

Everyone gets unfair treatment at times. To label it misogyny is bizarre, untrue and demeaning to all the women who have spent lifetimes fighting for equal rights.

You can't ask to be President of the United States and then whine about how unfairly you're treated. All people running for President are going to be treated unfairly.

As she says herself, if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

When she and her husband tried to paint Obama as unelectable because he was black (and don't even try to argue in their defense - that's EXACTLY what they've been doing) they are basically speaking heresy against core Democratic values.

The Clinton Years

I'm one of the few Democrats I know who does not look back fondly on the Clinton years. I have to go back to Jimmy Carter to find a President I was at least satisfied with.

I watched in shock as the Clintons sold out our economy, our jobs and our manufacturing base with their unqualified support for NAFTA. I cheered Dick Gephardt's valiant effort to defeat his own party's President on this.

I watched as Hillary Clinton was handed the health care issue, with the full power of the presidency behind her. She couldn't get it done.

She didn't forge the necessary coalitions, and when she did compromise, it was in all the wrong places, so that by the time she brought forward a bill, there was little left worth supporting.

The best part about this campaign is that now many Democrats are finally seeing the Bill and Hillary Clinton that the right wing has hated for so long. And perhaps that common ground will help us forge some new bridges in the fall.

The problems we face in this country - reclaiming our vote, opening up government, turning the Titanic around re global warming, and finding a new energy future are too big to leave to partisan concerns.

I'm looking forward to hearing new voices rise in the Republican party, as the neocon philosophy slowly recedes from the national conversation, having utterly failed us for the past eight years.

Final Straw

Friday was the final straw for me. For her to bring up the assassination of Robert Kennedy as a reason for staying in the race was the lowest blow yet …

She was trying to make the point about June being the end of the campaign, but the subtext of course was, someone might kill Obama, and that's why she's waiting around.

Go away, Hillary. Please. Go far, far away.

Your and your husband's lies have aided in destroying people's faith in government. Go duck sniper fire in some other country.

You don't belong in our party. You couldn't even run your own campaign well. I don't want you anywhere near government. You don't deserve it.

When this campaign first started, I had no reason to get involved. I thought any of our [Democratic] leaders - John Edwards, Clinton or Obama – would do a better job than the Republicans so I planned to just sit the primaries out.

Choosing Obama

But when I saw what some Clinton supporters were saying about Obama (having 'no' record, being unqualified for any of a number of bogus reasons) that pressed my button. I have great sympathy for the underdog.

The more I read, the more I realized we'd be crazy NOT to elect Obama. He has it all.

He's smart. He's experienced. He's principled. He had a genuine, documented record of forging important legislation and getting bipartisan support.

He made a break with politics as usual to run a campaign that was truly of, by and for the people when he rejected all PAC money. He spoke out against the war when it was politically risky to do so. He chose community organizing over Wall Street.

He grew up in two countries, so he has a better understanding in his blood than most of how lucky we are here in America, and how much the rest of the world suffers, often as a result of our foreign policy abroad.

And then there's Hillary. She's a liar. She's a backstabber (telling Obama to his face how "honored" she was to share the debate with him, and then a couple of days later saying, when he wasn't there to respond, "Shame on you.")

She valued loyalty to herself over competency, which is why her campaign had so many issues.

She ran as if it were a "coronation" - rich drapery at events, spending campaign donor money as if it was water. Staying at the Bellagio in Vegas. And perhaps worst of all, claiming her husband's presidential experience as her own. (See my response to that here.)

The Feminist Question

I knew she was a climber, that the only reason she stayed with her husband after he embarrassed her in front of the world was so she could make him pay in a different way - by campaigning for her, and leveraging his connections on her behalf.

There's a wondrous kind of karma in this, in that he ended up being one of her biggest liabilities, rather than a help.

As a feminist, I was upset that our first female President would only have gotten there on her husband's coattails. She is not qualified to be President.

Why not wait for Barbara Boxer, who would make a fine President? Or Kathleen Sibelius? Or Janet Napolitano? Or Christine Gregoire? There are plenty of women who would make good presidents.

I'm not someone who would vote for someone just because she was a woman. I will vote for the best person, no matter their color, their sex or sexual orientation, or their race.

For all her nastiness, for all the lies, I have defended her staying in the race. Until today.

Look. The nomination race is over. It's been over since Obama won Wisconsin, just a week after sweeping the Potomac primaries. It's been over, mathematically, for a long time.

But I wanted to allow her and her supporters their fantasy. I saw the contest as building our Democratic party base, given us reasons to go into every state and register new voters. And that's been good for us, to a point. Until now.

She knows Obama has received death threats. She knows that people who have stood up from positions of power and said no to war have been assassinated. And she saw the press go after Gov. Huckabee for his beyond dumb and horribly unfunny allusion to the same.

The second to last straw, for me, was her comment about how the "hard-working" "white people" were voting for her, implying that other people were not so hard-working.

I wanted her excommunicated from the Democratic party for that statement alone.

But this comment was truly the last straw. Her statement on Friday was simply unconscionable.

She needs to go away. Forever. I never want to see her face on TV or hear that voice again.

Lisa Pease is a historian who has studied the Kennedy assassinations and other enduring political mysteries.

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