Tuesday, May 27, 2008

BANG! Just Kidding

There's an old bit, conceived by Paul Krassner, later borrowed and blown up by Terry Southern in his rollicking story, "The Blood of a Wig," where on the Air Force One ride back to Washington from Dallas, newly-sworn in President Lyndon Johnson is hunched over JFK's open casket. Jackie Kennedy wanders in and notices that LBJ has his pants down and is fucking her dead husband's neck wound.

"'Great God,' she cries, 'how heinous! It must be a case of . . . of . . . NECK-ROPHILIA!'"

One can view this routine from several angles; I see it simply as an extension of LBJ's hatred and contempt for the Kennedys, that now he was the Top who'd do the fucking, extending this death ritual to Vietnam itself. But usually the main reaction is disgust, and that's fine, too.

I thought of LBJ's neck-rophilia recently after Hillary Clinton hinted that since Obama may receive the Bobby Kennedy Ambassador Hotel kitchen special, it might be wise for her to stick around and play Hubert Humphrey -- or maybe Richard Nixon, I wasn't quite sure which. Naturally, Hillary's comment drew opprobrium across the board, and she backed away, apologizing in the standard Beltway manner. But since American elections are largely apolitical affairs, the media squeezed every possible drop from the RFK gaffe, with Fox News doing its part, parsing Hillary's remark in a segment featuring intellectual heavyweights Eric Shawn and Liz Trotta, whose knee-slapping exchange I'm sure most of you have seen:

TROTTA: "And now we have what some are reading as a suggestion that somebody knock off Osama, uh Obama. Well, both, if we could." (LAUGHS)

SHAWN: "Talk about how you really feel."

Smoking the first serious black presidential candidate? Now that's comedy, especially when you look back not only to RFK, but to Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Fred Hampton. Killing black leaders is not only a funny premise, it's wholly American as well. Not that Obama has anything really in common with those three African-American martyrs, given that he has elite corporate support and vows to keep the imperial state in working order. To many whites, Obama remains an uppity Negro who has the tasteless nerve to possibly be elected president. Mix in his Ay-rab name, which sounds to white ears like Osama, therefore making them one-in-the-same, and you can see why some people find shooting Obama no big deal, or at least a tacky joke that one can excuse due to campaign fatigue, which Trotta did.

I haven't seen nor heard of Liz Trotta in a long time. I tangled with her once, on Larry Josephson's WNYC radio show in New York. This was during the first Gulf War, which Trotta supported and haughtily defended. Siding with the state meant that Trotta didn't need facts or historical perspective to make her bloody case, and she quickly became miffed with me as I took apart each of her points, correcting her history, and showing her for the ignorant blowhard she was and clearly remains. It got so bad that the liberal Josephson sided with Trotta a few times (including when she slandered Chomsky), I suppose to make her feel less isolated. Finally, Trotta, angry with my impertinence, demanded to know where I went to school and what I studied. Objective reality wasn't working for her, so she went after me personally, a textbook tactic. I told her that it didn't matter where I studied; either my arguments where true or false, and it was her job to prove me wrong solely on that basis. Besides, I was just a concerned citizen who took an active interest in national affairs. Trotta sniffed at that, as only Certified Experts should be allowed to publicly discuss the big issues.

Trotta's Kill Obama jape is an organic feature of our murderous empire. It's not only a nod to violent American history, it helps to condition the public to the idea that certain figures deserve to be assassinated. There's a tremendous amount of Obama hate already brewing out there, and once he's the official Dem nominee, the "national discourse" should become even more twisted -- all in good fun, of course.