This year Iâ€™ve been within a handshake reach of more politicians than I ever met in my life. John Kerry was at Obama headquarters downtown before the primary, with Linc Chafee and other dignitaries. On election day I was holding an Obama sign next to Myrth York and Sheldon Whitehouse, whom I regret to say were not holding Obama signs.
We want our politicians to meet us face to face. We put so much expectation and hope, and give so much power to the people we elect. But they are only human. Running through an exhausting schedule of speeches and meetings and interviews, with every word liable to be pulled out of context and used as a sound-bite has got to be an ordeal.
In the Tuesday, May 20th issue of the New York Times (pp 20 and 21) are photos of the three major candidates on the campaign trail. Barack Obama and John McCain are shaking hands with some voters and Hillary Clinton is giving a speech from a low stage to a crowd gathered outdoors. Whether we agree with their politics or not, they are brave, they are vulnerable, and they are out there speaking directly to the voters. This is an American tradition.
Those of us who remember the sixties know what itâ€™s like to watch political debate silenced with a bullet. John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Robert F. Kennedy all taken from us. George Wallace paralyzed for life. The next two decades brought more shootings of politicians and famous people. This past December Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in Pakistan.
Anyone who chooses to run for office knows that they could be a target.
It was not a minor slip, or a misunderstanding, when Mike Huckabee said this at an National Rifle Association meeting…
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) â€” Republican Mike Huckabee responded to an offstage noise during his speech Friday to the National Rifle Association by suggesting it was Barack Obama diving to the floor because someone had aimed a gun at him.
Hearing a loud noise and interrupting his speech, Huckabee said: “That was Barack Obama. He just tripped off a chair. He’s getting ready to speak and somebody aimed a gun at him and he â€” he dove for the floor.”
A weak apology couldnâ€™t undo what he said and what he meant. When words fail, thereâ€™s the gun. Memories are still strong. This month Bobby Kennedy is on the cover of Vanity Fair. We have too much history where powerful debate was cut short by violence. I never want to see that happen again.
If Mike Huckabee thinks that the possibility of one of his NRA constituency taking a shot at any of our candidates gives his campaign some extra power, heâ€™s exactly what we donâ€™t need. And if heâ€™s so clueless about recent American history that he didnâ€™t know what he was saying, then heâ€™s got no business in politics.