BARACK Obama is crazy brave Jan 9, 2008 12:52:19 GMT -5
Post by Flash on Jan 9, 2008 12:52:19 GMT -5
BARACK Obama is crazy brave. His victory in Iowa puts him in the crosshairs of many a gun-toting racist for whom the thought of a black president is an abomination.
The prospect, even the likelihood, of assassination played a significant role in Colin Powell’s decision - and that of his wife - to abandon any thought of a presidential run.
They were thinking hat-trick: Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Colin Powell. As was Ted Kennedy when he abandoned any White House ambitions: Jack, Bobby, Teddy.
Across the US, a fatalism was provoked by a culture of pervasive violence, hundreds of millions of guns, conspiracy theories and bitter experience.
Far from the Chappaquiddick scandal costing Teddy any hope of Pennsylvania Avenue, his grotesque behaviour after the drowning of MaryJo Kopechne may have been symptomatic of his desperation to escape dynastic destiny. He assassinated himself. (Yet Teddy would live to achieve more substantial political change than his brothers, as a consequence of 40 years as a crusading legislator.)
Inevitably, presidents and presidential candidates are prime targets for sundry loonies, with most being inside jobs. With two exceptions - attempts on the lives of both presidents Bush - assassinations and attempts came from enemies within.
Four serving presidents were gunned down: Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, William McKinley and JFK. At least another 11 were targeted: Andrew Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and the two Bushes.
After leaving office, Theodore Roosevelt campaigned again for the presidency, this time standing for the Progressive Party. He was shot in the chest by a New York saloon keeper. Slowed by the folded 50-page speech in his pocket, the bullet would remain in Roosevelt’s body.
One month before FDR’s inauguration, Giuseppe Zangara fired five shots at him, wounding four others and killing the mayor of Chicago. Two assassins blazed away at Blair House where Truman was staying during building work on the West Wing. One was killed, the other, Oscar Collazo, was sentenced to death. Truman commuted that to life imprisonment. Carter released Collazo in 1979.
President-elect JFK was targeted by Richard Pavlick, a would-be suicide bomber with a Buick full of dynamite. He had a change of heart when he saw Jackie and the kids waving goodbye to daddy. Nixon survived two attempts, one by a certain Arthur Bremer during a visit to Canada in 1972. Unable to get a clear shot, he would, a few days later, shoot and paralyse the deep-south bigot and Democratic presidential contender George Wallace.
Two years later, Samuel Byck hijacked a commercial airliner. Anticipating September 11, he planned to fly it smack-bang into Nixon’s White House. When there were problems taking off - the plane’s wheels were chocked - he shot the pilot, the co-pilot and himself.
In 1975, one of Charles Manson’s followers, Squeaky Fromme, tried to shoot president Ford as he reached to shake her hand in the crowd. The revolver held four bullets but, fortunately for Ford, the firing chamber was empty. Fromme remains in the slammer.
However, Ford’s next would-be killer was released on Boxing Day last month after serving 30 years of her life sentence. This loony of the Left also fired at Ford from close quarters but a bystander managed to deflect the weapon.
In 1979, Carter was about to make a speech in a Los Angeles mall when a would-be Lee Harvey Oswald named Raymond Lee Harvey was seen with a pistol. He told the cops he intended to create a diversion while two Mexican snipers killed the president. He was later released. There was insufficient evidence for a conviction.
John Hinckley Jr fired six shots at Reagan in March 1984. A policeman and a Secret Service agent were seriously wounded. Another bullet entered the brain of press secretary James Brady, who never fully recovered. A bullet ruptured Reagan’s lung and lodged close to his heart. Hinckley was trying to impress Jodie Foster by re-enacting a scene from Taxi Driver. He was found not guilty because of insanity and remains institutionalised.
In 1994, Francisco Duran fired a fusillade at the White House, believing one of a group of men to be Bill Clinton. Three months after leaving office, George H.W. Bush was the intended target of a car bombing in Kuwait. The US held Saddam Hussein responsible and bombed Baghdad in return. In 2005 a hand grenade was thrown at George W. Bush as he gave a speech in Tbilisi, Georgia. The grenade failed to detonate.
At least 18 attempts on sitting or former presidents, or presidents-elect. Facing the likelihood of an African-American in the White House, how many far-Right racists - from the old-fashioned Ku Klux Klan to more recent blast furnaces of bigotry such as Aryan Nations - are fantasising about or planning the assassination of Obama?
Interesting question. Would Kennedy have skipped his inauguration had he foreseen that day in Dallas? I doubt it.
Over to you...