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Clinton gun joke from Trump supporter with trigger-happy ancestor

November 2, 2016
Spotted at a Trump Virginia Beach rally—a bullseye with Clinton's face on it!—Jim Acosta/Twitter

Bull’s-eye with Clinton’s face on it at a Trump rally at Virginia Beach!—Jim Acosta/Twitter

Over the weekend, U.S. Senator Richard Burr, Republican for North Carolina—a staunch Donald Trump supporter—was recorded joking with Republican party volunteers at a meeting in Mooresville, North Carolina, that former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should be targeted by gun owners.

Coincidentally, Senator Burr is a descendant of Aaron Burr, who, in 1804, shot and killed his political opponent forner U.S. Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton but more on that below.

CNN has posted the relevant audio from the Saturday, November 29 meeting between Senator Burr and GOP volunteers, wherein the senator relates how it made him feel to walk into a gun shop on Friday and see a copy of Rifleman magazine on the counter:

“It’s got a picture of Hillary Clinton on the front of it. I was a little bit shocked at that—it didn’t have a bull’s-eye on it.”

Such images of bull’s-eye targets superimposed over Clinton’s face have been photographed at several Trump rallies, including one at Virginia Beach, on October 22.

Burr, the Senate Intelligence Committee chairman, is in a tight race in North Carolina for re-election to a third term in the U.S. Senate against Democratic challenger Deborah Ross. He quickly issued a terse public apology via CNN on October 31:

“The comment I made was inappropriate, and I apologize for it.”

At least the Republican Senator recognized that he was in the wrong—the same cannot be said for the head of the Republican ticket, Donald Trump, who has, on at least three occasions, joked about  his Democratic opponent being the victim of gun violence.

Donald Trump like to shoot his mouth off a lot

Three months ago Trump declared at an August 9 rally that if Hillary Clinton was elected president, there would be nothing to stop her from picking judges, except maybe “Second Amendment people”, that is to say, gun owners.

That statement was widely interpreted as a threatening suggestion that a Second Amendment gun rights fanatic might assassinate Clinton.

Even the U.S. Secret Service—tasked by law with protecting major presidential candidates—took public notice of Trump’s comment on its Twitter account and reportedly cautioned the Trump campaign in private.

Donald Trump has never shown the slightest remorse for potentially trying to incite gun violence against his Democratic opponent—far from it.

At a Florida campaign rally on September 16, Trump sarcastically suggested that, because Clinton opposes unregulated gun use, her Secret Service bodyguards should be disarmed.

“She goes around with armed bodyguards like you have never seen before. I think that her bodyguards should drop all weapons. They should disarm. Right? Right? I think they should disarm immediately. What do you think? Yes? Yes. Yeah. Take their guns away. She doesn’t want guns. Let’s see what happens to her. Take their guns away, okay? It would be very dangerous.”

That evening Trump took to Twitter with the same theme, tweeting:

“Crooked Hillary wants to take your 2nd Amendment rights away. Will guns be taken from her heavily armed Secret Service detail? Maybe not!”

Roots of the 2016 presidential grudge match are Burr-ied deep

hamilton-burr

The duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton, based on bronze statues by sculptor Kim Crowley.

These thinly-veiled threats of gun violence that Trump and his supporters, like Senator Richard Burr, are willing to joke about are utterly foreign to mainstream politics. It’s hard to find a modern U.S. presidential election that matches the sheer ugliness of this year’s contest.

But, if you skip back two centuries, you can certainly find American presidential politics and politicians to rival both Trump’s demagoguery and vituperative attacks on his opponents, as well as the kind of hatred and ambivalence felt by many towards both Clinton and Trump.

To begin with, there is more than a touch of irony to Senator Richard Burr’s making anything even hinting of a gun threat to a political opponent. He is, after all, a proud descendent, 12 generations removed, of Aaron Burr, the one-term Vice President of the United States (1801–1805), who, famously (or infamously) challenged, then shot and killed his hated political rival Alexander Hamilton in an illegal duel on July 11, 1804.

This year, both Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton have been invoked by historians and pundits to show that the ugliness of Trump versus Clinton is not really such an aberration—that it has roots and parallels going back to the early U.S. politics of the 17th century.

The founder and the bounder: Part one

Alexander Hamilton was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, and the principal founder of the U.S. financial system, ad well as the first Secretary of the Treasury. He federalized the state debts in order to better bind the states under the central authority of the federal government.

Aaron Burr fought in the Revolutionary War (1775-1783) and later built a political career in New York State, which culminated in the Vice Presidency. Though he never suffered legally for the murder of Hamilton, the deed utterly killed his political career.

Burr went on to raise an army, apparently with the intention of forcibly making himself emperor over both the Spanish territory that is now Mexico and a number of western U.S. states. For this effort he was charged (and acquitted) of treason in 1807.

You would be right in thinking that the easily offended Aaron Burr, who was willing to turn his back on democracy when things didn’t go his way, reminds some historians of  Donald Trump.

Alexander Hamilton, however, isn’t exactly the match for Hillary Clinton.

Asking “What would Hamilton do?“, historian Jeff Wilser, shows how Alexander Hamilton and his political peers had to dodge much of the same kind of mud as we are seeing flung back and forth in 2016.

Hamilton was both the object and the initiator of vicious character assassinations. His opponents hounded him to disclose his financial records, which he did—exhaustively. He was even embroiled in the first U.S. sex scandal when he denied any financial wrongdoing toward one James Reynold but admitted having an extramarital affair with the man’s wife (and shared details). And, of course, Hamilton ultimately died for his political attacks on Aaron Burr.

Historian Wiser actually uses Hamilton to demonstrate a parallel between opponents Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton today and two strange political bedfellows of 216 years ago, namely Aaron Burr and Thomas Jefferson.

The founder and the bounder: Part two

The Gilder Lehrman history website characterizes the election of 1800 as “an angry, dirty, crisis-ridden contest that seemed to threaten the nation’s very survival.”

As I understand it, in 1800 the number of electoral college votes to each of the four presidential candidates determined first, which party ticket would win control of the Executive Branch (the White House) and then, which of the two men of the winning ticket would be President and which would be Vice President.

Burr and Jefferson were running together on the Democratic-Republican ticket. This was a strategic alliance; Burr was a very skilled political operator and he controlled the New York vote. Together they won the White House—receiving more electoral college votes than the Federalist ticket of John Adams and Charles Pinckney.

However Burr and Jefferson each received the same number of votes (73). This tie threw the election into the Federalist-controlled House of Representatives, which took 36 ballots to give the presidency to Jefferson. This after weeks of strenuous lobbying by Federalist Alexander Hamilton against Aaron Burr.

Choosing the lesser of two evils—and not for the last time

Jefferson and Burr were allies of convenience in order to win the federal election. Jefferson and Hamilton, however, were long-time political arch-enemies.

But as strongly as he disagreed with the so-called Sage of Monticello‘s agrarian principles, Alexander Hamilton feared Aaron Burr as a man with no principles at all.

“If there be a man in the world I ought to hate,” Wiser quotes Hamilton as explaining, “it is Jefferson. With Burr I have always been personally well.” Yet Jefferson “is by far not so dangerous a man and he has pretensions to character.”

Hamilton told a friend that Burr is “one of the worst men in the community. The appointment of Burr as president would disgrace our country abroad…No agreement with him could be relied upon.” If Federalists [who controlled Congress] backed Burr, Hamilton believed, they would be “signing their own death warrant.”

If the reasons, written 216 years ago, for supporting Thomas Jefferson over Aaron Burr sound familiar, that’s because they anticipate and echo the reasons given by almost every Republican who has publicly supporting Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump.

This is not to say that Hillary Clinton ranks with Thomas Jefferson but—to quote Robert Smith, writing in the Daily News—that “Trump is in a class by himself. Or rather, he is in a class with Aaron Burr”. Click the images  to enlarge them.

From → Internet, People, Twitter

3 Comments
  1. I can´t wait for this to be over. This election season is ugly, disappointing, and embarrassing to say the least.

    • I agree. It’s been hard to stand by and just watch this bad thing happen to a neighbour and close relative, which is kind of what the U.S. is to Canada.

  2. Sandra permalink

    Hillary and Bill Clinton are criminals going all the way back to their days in Arkansas.



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