Beginning in 1994, we began to see the general technique of delegitimization and contempt as a polictical tactic by the "Contract With America" Republican Conservatives led by Newt Gingrich. It was a deliberate attempt with directives given to use specific language to deny Bill Clinton the right to his office as President.
Instructions went out in memorandums as to which words to use and they were sent to conservative talk radio hosts. They cooly decided which words to use and to characterize the Clintons and their policies as "sick".
This story was documented in the disillusioned Conservative insider, David Brock's book, Blinded By The Right.
The delegitimization of Clinton led to the fruitless Whitewater investigation, the Paula Jones case, the interrogation of Monica Lewinsky and the attempt to impeach him.
What ever the Clintons felt at this time is hard to imagine and they have taken great pains to avoid this period during Hillary's present campaign.
We have already seen a predictable return to the politics of delegitamacy by the extreme Republican Right. The most surprising development, though, is the use of the technique by Hillary Clinton. We knew race was going to be an unavoidable theme of this campaign, but to hear Bill Clinton compare the victory of Barack Obama in South Carolina to Jesse Jackson's marginal candidacy was shocking.
Then, after Hillary's victory in Ohio, she made the comments about the "Commander-In-Chief" Test, which she said both John McCain and herself had mysteriously "passed", but Obama had mysteriously failed to "pass". This was a second attempt to deligitimatize Barack Obama. There was no criteria to her comment, it's success could opnly be shown by its success or failure.
Now we are dealing with the aftermath of her assassination rational as to why she is staying in the race. This is a tactic as wierd as anything the Clintons had pitched against them during the impeachment attempt.
The most disturbing element of her remark was this: that it chose to treat assassination as just one more political possibility, one of the things that happen in our politics, like hecklers, lobbyists, and forced resignations. The slovenly morale and callousness of such a released fantasy is catching. So when, a few days later, the Fox News contributor Liz Trotta was asked her opinion of Senator Clinton's statement, Trotta said: "some are reading [it] as a suggestion that somebody knock off Osama...Obama. Well...both if we could!" Liz Trotta laughed as she said that. Later, she apologized, as Senator Clinton also has apologized.
Let's face it, race is never too far from the surface in discussions about Barack Obama.
There is a still fresh, still glowing ember of race fear and bigotry ready to be ignited...
If you listen, you will hear, "I am afraid of him" or "He could never win the white vote, the white working class just aren't ready for him."
William Jones wrote on the hope of democracy after the Civil War:
"The deadliest enemies of nations are not their foreign foes; they always dwell within their borders. And from these internal enemies civilization is always in need of being saved. The nation blest above all nations is she in whom the civic genius of the people does the saving day by day, by acts without external picturesqueness; by speaking, writing, voting reasonably; by smiting corruption swiftly; by good temper between parties; by the people knowing true men when they see them, and preferring them as leaders to rabid partisans or empty quacks. Such nations have no need of wars to save them."
"We shall overcome" doesn't mean: We will win equal rights for all people. It means:
We will overcome our savage impulses to settle our disputes with violence.
The acceptance of political violence, apparent in the recent casual chatter of assasination, shows a despair of overcoming that is monstrous as violence itself.