Sen. Ted Kennedy, the brother of two assassinated political leaders, was always a marked man -- the target of every kook who wanted to be known for getting the last Kennedy brother.
So as we mourn his death due to natural causes, it's appropriate to note that the torch of being a marked man has been passed to a new generation -- specifically, to President Obama.
With sickening frequency, opponents of President Obama are suggesting that he should die or that they would like to shoot him.
The pastor of a man who brought an assault rifle to an Obama appearance in Phoenix, Arizona, prayed the day before the event that Obama would die and go to hell.
A Republican gubernatorial candidate in Idaho has joked about getting a license to hunt Obama.
And then there was the man who held up a "Death to Obama, Death to Michelle and her two stupid kids" sign at a town hall meeting.
And a Democratic lawmaker received a fax with a picture of Obama made up as the Joker with the words "Death to all Marxists, Foreign and Domestic."
Let's not forget the armed protester who showed up outside an Obama event with the sign referencing Thomas Jefferson's quote about the "tree of liberty" needing to be watered with the blood of tyrants.
Or the man carrying a knife who made it past security into an Obama town hall meeting and was found to have a loaded gun in his vehicle.
With so much public talk linking death and Obama, it's no wonder that the Secret Service is dealing with 30 death threats a day against the president's life.
The Idaho congressman may think it's just sarcasm to joke about getting a license to hunt Obama, but the danger is that this constant linkage of Obama and death will come to be seen as a call to action by some kook. With multiple authority figures, including a politician and a preacher, endorsing Obama's death, somebody may decide to be the hero who does what others are calling for. Add in the lunatic claim that Obama is not a legitimate president because he supposedly wasn't born in Hawaii, and there is even further "justification" for some nut case who thinks he's a real "patriot" to take action.
The Secret Service does a better job than they did in the 1960s, but even they make mistakes. And if the kooks can't get to Obama, there are plenty of members of Congress who would be easy targets, especially with commentators like Glenn Beck acting out an assassination of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Political assassination is not funny. Conservatives are playing with fire and we could all get burned.