No, Hillary Doesn’t Need to Speak About Ferguson

by Charles C. W. Cooke

In Politico, Maggie Haberman notes that Hillary Clinton has not yet commented on the situation in Ferguson:

Hillary Clinton ignored reporters’ questions about the racial conflict in Ferguson, Missouri, on Sunday at the end of a book-signing event in Westhampton Beach, a vacation enclave near her rented summer house.

Clinton, the potential 2016 Democratic presidential hopeful who has been vacationing in the Hamptons since the first full week of August, has not yet commented on the situation in Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, where an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown was killed by a police officer two weeks ago.

So what? As a general rule, we really do not need to hear from absolutely everybody in the political class each and every time that something dramatic happens. If Hillary Clinton wishes to pronounce upon the topic, I’m sure she will. If she doesn’t, then she doesn’t have to. Either way, there’s no particular reason we need to hear her take. She’s not an elected official. She has no authority over Ferguson, Missouri. She has no more information than anybody else. She is, for now at least, a citizen of the United States. Nothing more, nothing less.

Now, it might be politically interesting that she has stayed silent. Reticence, after all, is not a virtue that is typically associated with the family. But one suspects that this is not why she is being urged to speak. Instead, those doing the urging seem to want to add her voice to whatever agenda they are trying to sell. Haberman writes:

The Rev. Al Sharpton, at a rally in Ferguson last weekend, pushed toward the future, calling on all the 2016 potential candidates, including Clinton and Republican Jeb Bush, to comment on the situation. Clinton is the clear front-runner for the Democratic nomination.

This, frankly, is absurd. At the heart of the situation in Ferguson is a question that neither Clinton nor Bush can possibly answer. That question: “Was the killing of Michael Brown justified?” Neither Bush nor Clinton know the answer to this. Indeed, they cannot possibly know the answer to this. In consequence, asking them to pronounce upon the secondary issues is downright silly. What, pray, can they say? They don’t know whether the protests are justified or misplaced because they don’t know whether there was any wrongdoing. Presumably neither of them is going to endorse rioting, nor are they likely to defend some of the poor policing we have seen. Worse still, anything either one of them were to say would immediately be taken as an endorsement of one side or another — an endorsement that they cannot and should not be making at this juncture. Let’s leave the post-mortems to those involved.

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