Hillary Clinton: It’s about Malia Ann and Sasha Obama. Barack is too classy to tell you.

I wonder if Hillary Clinton could even name the Obama children. Barack is too classy to suggest she needs to apologize because Malia Ann (age 10) and Natasha ("Sasha" age 7) might find out that she brought up the chance that "Daddy might get killed".

The Daily News featured her OpEd ("Why I continue to run"), which provided her a second chance to apologize to Barack Obama and his family. She didn’t. According to Terry McAuliffe and Howard Wolfson, she has no reason to do so:

Asked if Clinton has personally called Obama to apologize for the
reference, McAuliffe said she has not, "nor should she." He added,
"Let’s be clear. This had nothing to with Senator Obama or his

Appearing on CBS’s "Face the Nation", Clinton senior strategist Howard
Wolfson said McAuliffe is "absolutely right" that Clinton didn’t want
to apologize to Obama for the remark and said: "I think it was
unfortunate to attack Senator Clinton’s remarks without knowing fully
what she had said." LINK

In my previous column (here) I wrote that I am a psychotherapist who believes in the unconscious, and that I believe that some choices of words which one later regrets saying are representative of unconscious wishes too unaccepatble to reach one’s conscious awareness.

I don’t condemn Hillary for having this unconscious fantasy if indeed she does. She’s human. You may have the unconscious wish that your beloved wealthy aunt dies and leaves you a fortune but that doesn’t mean you want it to happen.

I rather doubt Hillary Clinton has ever undergone psychoanalysis or spends much time wondering about her unconscious mind. I’d be surprised she ever awakens from a puzzling dream at 3:00 A.M. and makes a mental note to try to figure out in the morning if it had any hidden meanings she could learn about herself from.

I see Barack Obama as a more self-reflective person as his first book ("Dreams from My Father") suggests. But that’s the subject of another yet to be written column.

I wrote about this before but want to emphasize it again now that Clinton has had the opportunity on reflection to grasp that she said something that has an impact on the Obama family as well as the Kennedys.

This is what I suggest Hillary could had said if she had any sense of empathy for the Obamas. This includes not just a mea culpa, but an explanation far more difficult than the one she gave to the Kennedy’s about the family being on her mind. In these instances apologies without sincere and honest explanations are empty words.

When I initially apologized for bringing up Robert Kennedy in my attempt to illustrate how some hard fought campaigns historically went into June, it was a history lesson best left untaught under these circumstances. I do not need an historic precedent to bolster my case to continue to run and I am ashamed to admit I was insensitive.

I deeply regret even uttering the word which must have boiled up from my unconscious, because I am only human and obviously it lurks there in my mind as a horrendous possibility, as it must for any politician.

I feel I owe Barack and Michelle Obama and their family as much of an apology as I gave to the Kennedy’s. After all, he is the one who now has to explain about this to his children, should they hear of this on the news or from friends. I can’t imagine how he will explain why someone who I am sure he has told them is a good person even though she is running against him would bring up something so frightening and terrible.

In the cold hard light of self-evaluation I realized that after competing against Senator Obama all these months I saw him as more the formidable opponent than the vulnerable human being.

Politics is unfortunately often a fight where you are so focused on trying to exploit your rival’s weaknesses you forget they are humans beings with feelings and families. I know how I have felt when my own daughter Chelsea has been attacked.

I can only ask the Obamas and the American people to accept this belated apology for uttering a word that is so fraught with horror.

I am deeply ashamed for being so caught up in the battle when I initially apologized to the Kennedys that I neglected to appreciate the power of that word to cause emotional pain to the Obamas as well.


Andrew Sullivan, whose opinion I have always respected makes a similar point although he doesn’t mention the children:

Now, even if all this was completely unintentional – and we should
see this as just a very unfortunate slip of the tongue – the apology
made it an issue. She owed an apology to Obama but more so to Michelle
Obama, a woman who has to live with this fear all the time. And yet
Clinton could only apologize to the Kennedys. This tells us a great
deal about someone’s character. Clinton has no class and no grace and a
narcissist’s understanding of others’ pain.




  1. DejaVuAllOver

    You’re right, Hal, this isn’t about character; but it may be about a MAJOR character flaw. I’m not a mental-health professional, like you, so I’m not sure what the proper term is, but egomaniac, hubris driven, prideful and megalomaniac all come to mind! And I for one am sick and tired of such people running the show. Obama at least seems like a decent guy who you wouldn’t mind having at a family barbecue!

    I like your take on the matter, though.

  2. Hal Brown

    —–added to column——


    Andrew Sullivan, whose opinion I have always respected, makes a similar point although he doesn’t mention the children:

    Now, even if all this was completely unintentional – and we should see this as just a very unfortunate slip of the tongue – the apology made it an issue. She owed an apology to Obama but more so to Michelle Obama, a woman who has to live with this fear all the time. And yet Clinton could only apologize to the Kennedys. This tells us a great deal about someone’s character. Clinton has no class and no grace and a narcissist’s understanding of others’ pain.



  3. JudyB

    Hal..I did not say nor do I think you were blowing hot air in your article, in fact I always enjoy reading what you write. The point I was trying to make was that the subject is keeping the television pundits busy yapping over another of what I refer to as a “he-said-she-said” item. Obama himself said he thinks the subject should be dropped that its time to move foreward.
    Though I didn’t happen to think an appology was necessary, my opinion on this subject was definitely in the minority. (not the first time nor the last) I now stand corrected! All too often in political campaigns for what ever reasons, insensitive and needless remarks are made without thinking how it will affect others, this is something a good President should be constantly aware of. A simple and sincere apology is never too late and I am now convinced one is due and apparently necessary in order for us all to move on.

    I would love to read yours and others opinions of what steps need to be taken to start correcting this dire
    economy…a think tank of sorts if you will. Today gas was $4.04 a gal. at my gas station (so. Calif.)

  4. WriteForU2

    I think you are blowing hot air, Hal. You are, after all, hot air incarnate.

    Hillary never mentioned Obama, never had Obama in mind. This is not fantasyland for two-bit therapists. All she spoke of was that campaigns have often moved into June. Her husband’s and RFK’s were used as two examples. Period.

    To translate what she said into your garbled version is ridiculous. The nutcases out there who would kill Obama are just as likely to kill a woman presumptuous enough to run for president.

    The only apology needed is by people like you.

  5. lochner

    Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, Hal. You’re sounding shrill and borderline hysterical.

    I heard what Hill had to say and immediately got it that it was a time reference…within a framework that includes many parallels between RFK and Hillary. The real biggie – He was running against Pres Johnson and was also trying to get the votes to get to the Dem convention. Her reference to RFK’s death is a time reference. That she has made it three, four, five times before does not change that it is a time reference. It’s shorthand for people over sixty.

    Ask any five people what RFK was trying to do – politically – when he was shot and I bet you they can not tell you. They’re not educated, informed, or too young…And it’s so much easier to shoot off their mouth re Hillary.

  6. Flapsaddle

    I notice that no one had a problem when you expressed a professional therapist’s opinion on the sitting president, but you are suddenly a “two-bit therapist” or making a mountain chain out of a mole hill when you apply the same tool to Hillary Clinton.

    In truth, it does make a difference whose ox gets gored.

    Most sincerely,

    T. J. Flapsaddle

  7. Alexandria Lupu

    NY native
    Hal and friends – I think all of you take Nasties & Hate for breakfast each day. Now just lay off your meanness for even once. It;’s enough of piling on Hillary.

  8. pollchecker

    TX Native

    You know I really respect Senator Clinton as a woman and as a person. However, she has made her own bed and now she has to lie in it. I guarantee you if the situation was reversed she would not be nearlh as nice to Senator Obama.

    If she cannot take the political heat then she should not be POTUS.

    Maybe she should just run for Gov of NY where people seem to really like her and Bill.

  9. emurph


    This is such crap! There is no reason to apologize. Last time I checked Bobby Kennedy wasn’t African-American, so I fail to see the connection everyone is trying to make. What she said was a true and factual statement. Can Hillary supporters no longer even utter truth? Guess we’re supposed to crawl in a hole somewhere and just shut up. Interesting message for us to take into the general election.

  10. WWWexler

    The DAILY NEWS? How far the mighty have fallen.

    You’re right about the lack of apology, Hal, and if she had any sense we now would have heard TWO apologies.

    As to why she’s not worrying about dreams at 3:00 am, it’s because she’s too busy answering the phone. (Sorry, I couldn’t stop myself, I really, really, tried, too!)


  11. Hal Brown

    Perhaps the New York Times (which endorsed her) refused to write a sympathetic editorial if she’d write the OpEd for them, so she went to the Daily News and got the editorial she wanted.

    I mean, did one of her own writters pen this for The Daily News?

    Clinton erred in that her words, taken super-literally, can be stretched to mean that she is hedging against the possibility that Barack Obama will be killed. That is preposterous. And to claim that she was deliberately fostering a poisonous atmosphere is to contribute to the bitter political climate that so many Americans decry.

    Since the statement and the uproar that followed, Clinton – who, after all, holds RFK’s seat in the U.S. Senate – realized how it came out garbled, as things often do in political campaigns. She expressed regret.


    Sorry Wex, I just couldn’t stop myself, I really really tried too! Not…

  12. OldandSlow

    Hillary Clinton has most definitely left a big wake behind her over the last two months of the campaign.

    She may have scored well enough to be contender late in the game, but at a cost. Her Republican-lite strategy of peeling off blue collar Democrats has polarized her own political party ahead of this summer’s convention.

    Andrew in Austin, TX

  13. Direct Democracy

    “In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens you can bet it was planned that way.”


    Direct Democracy

  14. Steve S

    Think it was a slip? Same slip 4 times?
    Four days after ABC polled that 59% of Americans feared for Obama’s safety, Hillary started talking assassination.
    I was amazed, but
    this site has the facts and sources: http://zfacts.com

    Steven Stoft

  15. Hal Brown


    Thanks for the link. I remember the Robert Kennedy assassination vividly. I was watching him on TV at the time. I didn’t remember it was in June so at least for me, and I suspect most people old enough, her saying "everybody remembers Robert Kennedy was assassinated in June" is not true.

    We can only guess why she chose to remind us.

    The article also points out that in their presidential primary campaigns both Teddy Kennedy and Gary Hart stayed in the race until June. No matter, really, since this race is unique. Even if almost all races lasted until the last primary there seems to be a consesnus among both Republican and Democratic analysts that her candidacy is hurting Obama’s chances against McCain.

    Regardless the real reasons she used the word, there’s still the issue of her lack of an apology to the Obama family.


  16. pollchecker

    “According to Terry McAuliffe and Howard Wolfson, she has no reason to do so.”

    One of the reasons I could not support Senator Clinton for POTUS is the people she chose to run her campaign like Terry McAuliffe. At the very beginning, both Hillay and Mr. McAuliffe started out telling campaign contributors they had better not be giving money to other candidates. I thought that was very presumptive of them.

    Then I watched how she ran a very lame campaign in my state of TX and after she didn’t get the results she liked she goes back and tries to change the rules just like Michigan and Florida.

    Now I have never been a CLinton Hater and have admired Hillary as a woman for many years, but I am beginning to understand why there are so many CLINTON HATERS.

    And that my friends is the number one reason I could not support Hillary for Prez. There are just too many people out there that absolutely positively hate the Clintons and having her for our nominee would just energize that group of people to vote no matter who was running against her.

    She does owe the Obama family an apology and the longer it takes her to give it, the more it will permanently damage her political career.

    I have no doubt Hal you are correct that it was a slip of the toungue made when she was tired. This is not what I want in a POTUS, first of all.

    Also, you know it has been discussed from a politcal situation. Everyday people are talking about it. Many, MANY people believe it will happen. It’s just not something to be made jokes about like Mike Huckabee did. And it’s an even touchier subject on MSM.

    So, I understand he reason for staying in the race. However, what is happening is that the general public are treating her much the same way they are treating George….they are ignoring both.

    As for Senator Obama, I still say the best bet for his safety and the ticket is to name Gov Richardson as his VP right away. Beat McCain to the punch on this one. The faster there is 2 of them out there berating McCain’s policies and flip flops and lack of votes, the better and more effectual!

  17. JudyB

    Before obama threw his hat in the ring, he said publicly that he had a lot to think about before he could make that commitment. There had evidently been threats on his life after he had given a talk, in fact one of his appearances had to be canceled for security reasons. In a television interview shortly after one incident, he said his wife was fearful of how his running would impact their lives and their security.

    Its an unfortunate fact that the presidency and all candidates running for it, run the risk of been killed by some political nut case who wants them out of commission permanently. I believe the only reason Bush has not been gunned down, is because he does not make “public’ appearances plus billions upon billions have been spent on his personal security by the usa and all other nations he visits.

    It was an unnecessary remark that Hillary made when she mentioned Kennedy, however, one She and every other candidate is constantly aware of. Hillary and Obama are both keenly aware of the nutcases out in the world ready to kill them for what ever sick reason. Unfortunately, Of the several trigger happy would be assassins who are out there, more than a few of them do not want to see either a woman or a black man get elected. No appology is required, as both Hillary & Obama live with constant realization that they risk being shot at.

    This entire subject is just another one to keep the hot air blowing instead of talking issues. I person1ally do not see why Hillary should not finish this primary, no matter if many think she should give it up as a lost cause. I would liked to have seen Edwards stay to the end. It used to be the conventions were where the nominations took place, and the nations interested voters stayed glued to the television sets in eager anticipation until the nominee was announced.

    I will vote for whomever the Democratic nominee will be !

  18. Hal Brown

    Hillary Clinton’s character is an issue, not the primary issue – I would vote for her against McCain without that being a consideration. However, she is now running against Obama, and having gone through seven years of having a president who wouldn’t know what a sincere "I’m sorry" meant if it hit him in the face, I see Hillary in the same light.

    She just doesn’t get that this isn’t about her bringing up assassination (regardless of conscious or unconscious causation); but rather about simply saying "I’m sorry" to the Obamas. Not, as I wrote, from the perspective of how it might make Michelle and Barack feel, but how it would make their daughters feel if they heard that arguably the most famous woman in the world alluded to their daddy getting killed.

    Even though she didn’t say those exact words, it is being alluded to now and all the girls would have to do is overhear a TV discussion about it, or have a friend bring it up. They certainly are old enough to know WHO Hillary Clinton is and why she’s important in their lives.

    I don’t think this matter is my blowing hot air.