by Jordan Zakarin
New York Senator Hillary Clinton worked to clarify remarks she made late last week in front of a South Dakota Newspapers’ editorial board, in which she invoked the exposing of pop star Janet Jackson’s breast during the 2004 Superbowl Halftime Show. Clinton mentioned the national defrocking as she was questioned by the board as to why she is continuing her quest for the Democratic nomination for President despite the seemingly insurmountable odds of defeating Illinois’ Barack Obama.
The Superbowl moment, which led to a dark cloud settling over the nation’s psyche that has yet to been fully lifted, holds extra significance when applied to Obama; many prominent backers have expressed fears that, as the first African American President, he would be especially vulnerable to the wardrobe malfunctions that befell Jackson, another famous African American.
The statement instantly set off cries of outrage from politicians, pundits and citizens’ groups, knocking Clinton off her message.
In a speech on Saturday, the candidate insisted that she mentioned the horrific moment as evidence that anything could happen with the nomination still yet to be officially decided.
“I very much apologize if my comments were taken for something they were not intended to be,” Clinton said. “I understand the deep, tragic damage that that one second of pure blurry, fleshy terror inflicted upon our nation, and would never seek to exploit it, or advocate that Senator Obama’s strutting his stuff in front of the nation, though, as a black man, he may desire to show off a little bit.”
But the damage had largely been done over three days of a barrage of negative publicity.
While Obama himself has declined to openly chastise Clinton, both backers of his campaign, as well as unlikely allies, condemned the New York Senator. David Axelrod, media director for the Obama effort, said that the comments “smelled of desperation, and a true willingness to appeal to base instincts at a time when this campaign is trying to lift America up beyond the politics of cynicism and nipples.”
“I cannot, for the life of me, comprehend why Senator Clinton would make mention of this horrific national tragedy in such a context,” said Rep. Heather Wilson (R-New Mexico). “An entire generation of children had their minds sullied while trying to watch the wholesome family entertainment that the NFL provides, and now she’s brought it back to the forefront, just as we had begun to heal as a nation. Shame on her, shame on her.”