| A mini-tempest is brewing about a video produced for Hillary Clinton asserting that the late Ann Richards would be campaigning for Clinton were she alive today.
I worked for Ann. I support Barack Obama. But I will not presume to intrude upon her children's lives and their disagreements about where their mother would have been in this race. And I would ask that those of us who still honor Ann simply stay out of it. In other words, I'm writing this hoping we don't translate our highly emotional opinions in this primary into an intrusion into Ann's family.
I don't know who she would be supporting. I do know Ann would be fiercely protecting her children (as politically experienced, tough and smart as they all are) at all costs. I want to honor that. Let's leave the issue with them.
Here's what the AP reports, in part:
The two sons of Ann Richards, the late former Texas governor, are objecting to an Internet video published by Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign that suggests their mother would have supported Clinton.
Clinton's campaign had permission from Richards' youngest daughter, Ellen, who said in a statement provided by the campaign that her mother was an "ardent feminist" who would be thrilled by her friend Hillary Clinton's candidacy.
"I believe that if my mom were alive today that she would be stumping across Texas and around the country supporting Hillary for president," her statement said.
Richards was governor from 1991-1995. She died in September 2006 at age 73. The two-minute video on Clinton's campaign Web site comes a week before the Texas primary and targets women voters in the state.
"So many women around Texas and America are saying, `Wish Ann was here, for us and for Hillary,'" a female voiceover says on the video.
"Today Ann would be asking all of us to make a statement. She would be traveling to every small town and big city in Texas, urging us all to take a stand, be counted, to make a difference, to make history," it says while a picture of Richards and Clinton appears on the screen. "This one's for Texas. This one's for our country. This one's for Ann."
But sons Dan and Clark Richards, partners at an Austin law firm, say nobody can know who the outspoken and opinionated former governor would have supported in the race between Clinton and Barack Obama.
"As her children, we never presumed to know her mind when alive and we are not prepared to make a claim as to who she would endorse or what she would do if she were still with us," they wrote in an e-mail last week. "We are not granting permission for her name to be used in advertisements on behalf of either candidate."
Let's allow the family to speak their minds, to differ politically, without presuming that whatever political beliefs we hold should be imposed upon them in this matter.
I know they have themselves willingly entered the political debate, and so they should be willing to publicly debate the matter. But I know how this kind of thing can become a public firestorm that burn the participants more than they've reckoned. Let's just not throw gasoline on them. Can we manage that?
I don't know what remaining neutral and quiet in this matter might mean for the future of the video. The family and their friends will figure that out. In the past, all of them have been kind to me. I'm just returning their kindness, hoping they can avoid the burns all of us have been inflicting on one another in the most interesting, heated and hard-fought primary since Ann's in 1990.