Friday, May 23, 2008

The Campaigns' Most Morbid Day

Death will not take a holiday this Memorial Day weekend, which starts with Hillary Clinton's bizarre invocation of Robert Kennedy's assassination as a reason for staying in the race and John McCain's release of his medical records in a scene straight out of "Citizen Kane."

Others may not go as ballistic as Keith Olbermann did over the RFK reference, but the former First Lady, who had to live for eight years with the specter of her husband's possible death as a condition of occupying the White House, was far out of bounds in raising the subject, as her own ensuing backpedaling and her campaign's multiple explanations indicate.

Mortality was an issue for Republicans as well with the carefully controlled viewing of 1,173 medical documents relating to John McCain's health.

As described by the New York Times Caucus blog, the circumstances resemble the "Citizen Kane" scene in which a newsweekly reporter is allowed to examine his deceased guardian's memoirs in a vault with an armed guard standing by:

"Senator McCain’s campaign is making the documents available in a limited way (they cannot be copied or taken out of a room at a resort in Phoenix; and only certain media organizations--not The Times--were allowed in as pool reporters). And they can only be reviewed for a few hours today."

Years ago, news media used to report predictions of the numbers of highway fatalities for holiday weekends like the odds on football games. Discretion ended that practice, but for this holiday weekend at least, potential death is back in the headlines again.

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