Marty Edelston, founder and CEO of the gigantic and always growing Boardroom Publications, has a picture on one of his office walls I wish he didn't.
It's a picture of the worst moment in my life as a fan of the New York Jets.
It was worse than the season they only won one game. It was worse than the game in which they lost their top two quarterbacks within two minutes of each other.
It was a picture of Jet quarterback Vinny Testaverde lying on the ground after a desparate last-down attempt at a game-saving and season-saving quarterback sneak from the Seattle Seahawks' one-yard line. They called it a touchdown. But there was enough room between him and the goal line to fit a champagne bottle lengthwise.
It was a home game for the Jets and if they lost they'd be out of any post-season fantasies and without that play resulting in a touchdown, they would have lost. And it was a combative and excited crowd. The referees may have been thinking of their physical survival if they'd called the play correctly. The most belligerent pro-Jet drunk could not claim Vinnie was across for a score.
Even doughty old coach Bill Parcells was apologetic. His comment was something like, "Look. We've all had enough of these things going against us. When one goes for you, well, OK. What can you do?"
My radio show has as little to do with sports as I can arrange. Nonetheless, I began my next show by calling the sports editor of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and, by virtue of the power vested in me as a resident of New York, I apologized for that awful injustice.
I wonder how many Obama supporters feel that same noble twinge of conscience when they realize (if they do) that Hillary Clinton suffered an equally unfair blow in the final hours of the Democratic race that muted, gutted, discolored and nullified her final and quite convincing argument that she would be the stronger candidate.
As an outside observer who will vote for McCain and would vote for neither Clinton nor Obama, let me suggest that Hillary was short-shrifted, broad-shafted and ridden out of the Democratic race on a very flimsy rail.
Most candidates that are blown out of a race are blown out by voters.
Hillary had the most triumphant closing chapter of a "losing" race in any party's primary history. She won 55 percent of the popular vote in the last series of primaries. If I were a Democratic delegate — super or plain — I think I'd be saying something like, "Hold on here. Obama got that big lead of his when love was young. He got those votes before the brimstone eruptions of Reverend Wright and the accompanying revelations. Hillary is coming back strong. If the Democrats could start all over again, I think Hillary would win by a huge margin, and I think she's the stronger candidate against McCain."
Hillary was blown out, not by voters, but by a frenzy as confected as a cinnamon twirl at an airport coffee bar.
Let's go back to her so-called "disastrous" comment about the assassination of Robert Kennedy in June, 1968.
I don't think it was the slightest bit disastrous, or even odd, oblique, hasty, unthought-out or ill-advised. And neither did the newspaper editorial board in South Dakota when Hillary first uttered those campaign-ending words. (Here's a pretty good rule in politics: When the grenade doesn't explode by itself right away; when it needs political opponents to yell "Bang!" and pretend there's an explosion much later on; you haven't got much of an explosion. In politics it's not what is. It's what your enemies can make of what is.)
In Norway there's a cute little children's song that has nice clean lyrics. It happens to have another set of lyrics that are dirty. I noticed as I walked down the street in Oslo humming the catchy little tune, little old ladies would frown at me indignantly. They assumed I was humming the dirty lyrics. And that's what happened to Hillary.
The point she was making to those Dakota editors was definitely legitimate. She was facing up to the riptide of Democratic Party insiders trying to bum-rush her out of the race immediately in the latter part of May. "What's the rush?" Hillary was in effect saying. "My husband didn't lock up the nomination until June." And here's where the story gets especially interesting for me. She then mentioned Bobby Kennedy's race for the Democratic nomination in 1968 and commented that he was assassinated, also in June.
My most sensitive political needles did not quiver. At least not because Hillary reminded us of that national catastrophy. When the sky later lit up with anti-Hillary calumny of the vilest sort, I asked a political-junky friend what Hillary said that was so bad.
He was part of the lynch mob and explained that, for Hillary to mention that Bobby Kennedy was assassinated and not mention his victory in the California primary revealed her heart was confected of palpitating unalloyed evil.
"Wait a minute," I said, "Hillary did mention Bobby Kennedy's victory in that California primary before she mentioned his assassination." My friend, out of courtesy to my seniority in years, perhaps, volunteered to go back to YouTube and check Hillary's statement. His research wasn't necessary. I came across a written transcript on-line and, sure enough, she had not mentioned Kennedy's victory; only his assassination! I was wrong. I "heard" what I knew was in her mind, even though Hillary never said it.
When I got my friend back on the line I said, "I think the reason I was so sure Hillary mentioned Kenned's victory in California is I was totally with her in the point she was making. I'm sure she meant to mention Kennedy's primary victory. Her trajectory of thought and speech was so clear that I'm sure she thought she'd said it and I could swear I thought I'd heard it. Because, however, she did not get those words of Kennedy's victory that final quarter-inch from inside her lips to the outside world, millions of people either thought or pretended to think Hillary was suggesting something sinister, like maybe Obama might meet Kennedy's fate and that's why she's staying in the race.
Can we agree her basic point was legitimate: Don't rush me out of this race! My husband didn't sew up the nomination until June of 1992. And neither did Bobby Kennedy."
If Hillary had done what her critics insist she should have and pointed out that Bobby Kennedy, indeed, secured the nomination in June pn the night of the California primary and then failed to add that he was shot down that very night, that would have been a politically sinful omission.
Hillary was falsely shouted down; down and out; unwarrantedly and unfairly. She had a good argument. Her opponents had a better distraction. Their invalid distraction trumped her valid argument.
The honest man is twisted by hard evidence of injustice. But this injustice to Hillary is going to be hard to hang on Marty Edelston's wall.
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