Unthinkable thoughts...

But they are being thought anyway, and I don't like reading that this kind of paranoid thinking is alleged to be taking hold among black Americans:

Online and in the streets Black folk are saying they won't vote for the senator because of fears of assassination attempts. The senator's wife, an incredibly bright and engaging woman, has told national publications she and her husband have discussed every aspect of what a successful candidacy means. Undoubtedly, the fatalistic notion of an assassination has been part of the couple's discussion.

So the issue becomes, if they are willing to brave a run at all costs, how can anyone Black be too chicken and small-minded to believe their vote(s) will bring about his demise. We need to shed that kind of thinking.

I completely agree that such thinking should be shed, and I don't know who is fueling it or why.

I'll be blunt here.

Short of a devastating enemy attack, I can think of no worse tragedy for the country than for Obama to be assassinated.

Rick Moran wrote about this last February:

how does this affect the Presidential campaign? First and foremost, it places a responsibility on candidates, their staffs, and their supporters to be circumspect in their criticisms of Obama. You can lay into a candidate without inviting the public to hate them. One can even personalize their criticism without it degenerating into the kind of mindless hate that is so often directed at Bush. And this challenge will be monitored by a more sensitive press who will probably come down harder and quicker on transgressors.

It also behooves those of us who write for political blogs to be cognizant of the danger. Obama is one of the most liberal candidates ever to seek the Presidency. I doubt whether many conservatives agree with much of anything he espouses. But will it really kill us if we keep our criticisms focused on the issues of the campaign - including personal issues like his lack of experience and an emerging portrait of a mushy headed idealist? I think not.

I'm not telling anyone what to write or to limit themselves in any way except to understand the historic nature of Obama's candidacy and the very real danger that the same kind of treatment the right gave Clinton could prove tragic. As I said, it isn't just the odd, angst ridden social deviant armed with an automatic weapon that would feel enabled by such an atmosphere. There are very serious men fully capable of making serious plans who might not need an enabling atmosphere to kill but who might actually be encouraged by it.

And there are also plenty of dangerous whack jobs floating around.

Similar fears were expressed at Wonkette:

Like an RFK or MLK who doesn't stand for anything beyond "audacity," Obama has apparently upset the Powers That Be who want a Walnuts/Hillary race in 2008. Be careful, Barry.
Daily Kos echoed the same concern in October:
There are plenty of reasons for voting for or against anyone. But this is not one of them.

If you're afraid that a racist will assassinate Obama because they don't want a black man to be president, then basing your vote on that just achieves the racist's goal faster, by having you do their dirty work for them. That would mean you don't want a black man to be president because a racist doesn't want a black man to be president. You're letting a racist tell you what to do. What the hell century is this?

I agree with that too, although the poll they ran asks what is in my view a premature question:
Gut check. If Obama were president, how concerned would you be of assassination?
I think it should be more along these lines:
Gut check. If Obama wins the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries, how concerned would you be of assassination?
But then, I guess I'm more paranoid than Daily Kos.

I know I'm a worry wart, but I'm curious about how the readers here feel, so I reworked the Kos poll:

If Obama wins the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries, how concerned would you be of assassination?
Not at all
Very slightly
Very seriously
I would vote against Obama in the primary to prevent it
pollcode.com free polls
posted by Eric on 12.18.07 at 08:56 AM


It's just my mostly meaningless opinion, but among that subset of people who are inclined to assassinate a president they realy don't like/are afraid of/see as a threat, I doubt the racists are any crazier than the rest. I don't see any reason why the first black president would be in substantially more danger than our other first black president (a white guy who actively promotes the idea that he is race mixing?!?) or the polarizing figure we have in the White House now. Remember "Mississippi Burning"? Three of the victims were white.

The Secret Service will have their work cut out for them, but they always do.

tim maguire   ·  December 18, 2007 10:30 AM

I am a 61 yr old, white male Republican, with ties to the South (great relatives fought on the Confederate side and died). I was in HS when Kennedy was killed,college senior for Bobby and Martin. I can honestly say I never thought about the possibility of Obama being assinated, until I read this post. But now, what a disaster that would be.

LYNNDH   ·  December 18, 2007 11:25 AM

"I can honestly say I never thought about the possibility of Obama being assassinated."

Same here. Unreal.

Dubya is still alive. To the best of my knowledge no one has even attempted to kill him. And there's a subset of people who will go into spasms just hearing his name.

I was playing World of Warcraft and someone actually said in general chat "with Americans having so many guns why is Bush still alive"

With THAT kind of crap floating around against our current president, why would Obama be the one to get death threats?

Anonymous   ·  December 18, 2007 11:51 AM

I hadn't heard of this either. Interesting.
I can understand it but I couldn't guess at the probability. Mostly because anyone who tries to kill the president is most likely crazy. The success rate on that is probably very low, we only hear about successful or nearly successful attempts. I would bet a lot of money that the Secret Service doesn't talk about attempts they foil. I would also bet a lot that someone besides the guy with the hand grenade in Eastern Europe has tried to kill Bush. Too many crazy people hate him.
When I was thinking that Obama was trying to be Hillary's VP, I remembered a Chris Rock bit that sounded all too plausible.

As Chris Rock said, "If a black man or woman is elected as VP then the president would have to be extra careful. I would kill the president and we would have the first black president. What are they going to do me? Put me in jail with a bunch of black guys who'll treat me like a hero?"

There are plenty of crazy people out there, surely there are probably some crazies who would fit in either scenario.

One question, how is this worse than some other crazy who's trying to kill the president because he's selling our sovereignty to Martians?

Veeshir   ·  December 18, 2007 12:04 PM

I hadn't thought of it either. It does seem that most political assassins are just plain nuts that aren't acting out of policy/political concerns.

dan in michigan   ·  December 18, 2007 12:32 PM

The thought has crossed my mind.I differ though in where the threat will come from.I believe for the most part we have beaten the racist thought and behaviors in America.The real threat comes from those who adore the stasis quo,those who hoard money and power.New Fresh Ideas,that is what scares them.Any threat will come from the current power mongers.

eath   ·  December 18, 2007 12:57 PM

Their thinking isn't so far off. In fact, I've been telling people for years that the reason why Orange was included in your package of Trix Cereal is the result of an effort by international corporations to promote Northern Irish Protestants in Ireland. And elsewhere. And we all know about the violence in Ireland.

Did they have to say "Orange orange"? No. They were making a point. I am, and always have been, following the truth in this way. It's time to stop globalization and the international corporations.

OregonGuy   ·  December 18, 2007 1:45 PM

There are and will always be enough nutcases on both the left and right that anyone who is elected president will be a target. That's why we have the Secret Service... to make such a thing so difficult that no one would want to try it and those few who do don't get far. While there may be a specific group of people who would want to assassinate Obama, there are other groups who would want to assassinate anyone else who was president.

Choey   ·  December 18, 2007 3:15 PM

Anonymous: Because foreigners who talk trash while playing Warcraft aren't actually a threat.

OregonGuy: Lucky Charms has (traditionally, if not currently) orange stars, and it's a deliberately Irish-themed cereal, unlike Trix.

That's where the real plot is. (That and convincing everyone that the Irish are paranoids in green suits who have an unwholesome relationship with children.)

Sigivald   ·  December 18, 2007 3:31 PM

If nobody has taken a shot at President Bush yet, nobody is going to take a shot at Obama.

Eric Blair   ·  December 18, 2007 9:17 PM

Well, even if it isn't a legitimate worry, this stuff is coming from somewhere.

Eric Scheie   ·  December 18, 2007 11:31 PM

Crazy people, not racists -- not the kind of racists hand-wrung about in this case, anyway -- assassinate Presidents.

Quasi-schizo types are very seldom anti-black and almost never anti-Muslim (I know Obama isn't the latter, but the idea exists); their race- and religion-delusions are almost exclusively about Jews (and if not Jews, Catholics, because the Church's imagery strikes them as Satanic).

The "Wonkette" RFK reference is particularly thoughtless. Sirhan Sirhan shot RFK because Sirhan Sirhan was a nut who hated Jews, not because RFK was a threat to any powerul cabal of anything. No Presidential candidate is such a threat, or they wouldn't be Presidential candidates. Obama's a Senator. He is the Powers That Be. That whole idea is just silly.

Well, even if it isn't a legitimate worry, this stuff is coming from somewhere.

Yes, it is. And people are responsible for their own fantasies.

Believing that there's an infernal type -- and notice the sameness of it throughout these warnings -- out there waiting for his sign to be unleashed, and that you are among the initiates who foresee that sign...

Yeah. Somewhere.

guy on internet   ·  December 21, 2007 1:44 PM


Didn't realize this post was old.

Sorry about the days-late "bump," Eric.

guy on internet   ·  December 21, 2007 1:46 PM

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