Monday, January 10, 2011

Liberal Assassins

On January 29, 2008, Ann Coulter said the following to Harry Smith on The Early Show (CBS): "… every presidential assassin -- or attempted presidential assassin in the history of the nation has either been a liberal, a communist, an anarchist, someone on the left…" (News

I love this kind of historical generalization, and I've been meaning to do my own fact checking. This morning I heard about the attempted assassination of Senator Gifford (D, AZ), and I decided to finally work this out.

I obtained the following list of presidential assassins from Wikipedia. What I found even more interesting than the assassins political motivations was the fact that so many of them were insane. I was also interested to learn that many of them were not executed for their crimes.

  • Richard Lawrence attempted to assassinate Andrew Jackson on January 30, 1835. His politics are unclear. He believed the president owed him money. Lawrence was found not guilty by reason of insanity and confined to a mental institution until his death (26 years).
  • John Wilkes Booth assassinated Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865. Politically, he opposed the abolition of slavery, so I think that makes him a conservative. He was shot and killed during pursuit. I think he is the one assassin who was not insane. I also think this is the one assassination that actually made a difference politically; although, not the difference Booth intended. Booth believed the death of Lincoln would inspire the south to rise up and keep fighting the war, but instead I believe it inspired the north to be particularly hard during reconstruction.
  • Charles J. Guiteau assassinated James A. Garfield on July 2, 1881. Politically, Guiteau was a supporter of Garfield and felt cheated that he had not been appointed ambassador to France. Garfield was a Republican when Republicans were fighting to establish suffrage among former slaves, so I think that makes him a liberal. By some travesty of justice, he was denied an insanity defense. He was executed by hanging.
  • Leon Czolgosz assassinated William McKinley on September 6, 1901. Politically, Czolgosz was an anarchist. There is great debate regarding his mental state. He was executed by electrocution.
  • John F. Schrank attempted to assassinate Theodore Roosevelt on October 13, 1912: Schrank's politics are murky. He was opposed to the Roosevelt's attempt at a third term in office, so that might make him a conservative. He said that McKinley's ghost had told him to avenge his assassination. Schrank was found legally insane and was institutionalized until his death in 1943 (31 years).
  • Giuseppe Zangara attempted to assassinate Franklin D. Roosevelt on February 15, 1933. He made several statements against capitalists, so he might be categorized as a communist. It seems clear that he was mentally ill, blaming Roosevelt for his chronic pain. Zangara was executed by electrocution.
  • Oscar Collazo and Griselio Torresola attempted to assassinate Harry S. Truman on November 1, 1950. Politically they were dedicated to Puerto Rican independence. I believe this makes them liberals. Torresola was killed in the attempt. Collazo served 30 years in prison.
  • Richard Paul Pavlick attempted to assassinate John F. Kennedy on December 11, 1960. Pavlick's politics are also murky, but I believe he was a conservative supporter of Nixon. Pavlick served six years in prison and mental institutions
  • Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. Politically, Oswald was a communist. His sanity was never examined thoroughly. He was assassinated in police custody.
  • Samuel Byck attempted to assassinate Richard Nixon on February 22, 1974. He believed the government was conspiring against the poor. This could be considered a liberal position. He was suffering from mental illness. He was killed in the attempt.
  • Lynette Fromme attempted to assassinate Gerald Ford on September 5, 1975. She was a member of the Manson family which qualifies her as liberal but mostly insane. She served 34 years in prison.
  • Sara Jane Moore attempted to assassinate Gerald Ford on September 22, 1975. Politically, she was radically liberal. Her sanity was not evaluated, but her statements and actions are so inconsistent that she seems insane. She served 32 years in prison.
  • John Hinckley, Jr. attempted to assassinate Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1981. His politics are immaterial and therefore unknown. Since he attempted to kill a conservative, we might assume he was a liberal, but he also stalked Jimmy Carter. He was trying to impress a girl. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity. As of 2011, he has been incarcerated 30 years, but he is allowed unsupervised visits to his mother for nine days at a time.
  • Frank Eugene Corder attempted to assassinate Bill Clinton on September 12, 1994. His politics seem immaterial and unknown. Friends claim he bore no ill will toward President Clinton; he was attempting to increase his notoriety which calls his sanity into question. He was killed in the attempt.
  • Francisco Martin Duran attempted to assassinate Bill Clinton on October 29, 1994. He mounted an insanity defense claiming to try to save the world from aliens. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
  • Robert Pickett attempted to assassinate George W. Bush on February 7, 2001. Pickett was found to have emotional problems and employment grievances. Pickett was sentenced to three years imprisonment.
  • No comments:

    Post a Comment