Bill Clinton is coming under increasing attack from leading Democrats as he campaigns in South Carolina for Senator Hillary Clinton’s bid for the nomination. The New York senator is campaigning in California having all but abandoned South Carolina to Barack Obama.
The former president hatchet-like remarks have riled up Senator Edward Kennedy, former Senate leader Tom Daschle and Congressman James Clyburn of South Carolina, head of the Congressional Black Caucus, the latter of whom last week sharply criticized the Clintons for their conduct in New Hampshire and now advises him to "chill a bit and "tone it down."
According to Newsweek, Kennedy angrily gave Clinton an earful saying he was partly responsible for "injecting race into the campaign." Newsweek says, the Clinton camp is fearful that Kennedy, formerly neutral, is leaning now toward Obama. Even Clinton insiders are worried, but it’s no-holds-barred campaigning: "This is excruciating," says a member of the Clintons' circle, who asked for anonymity. "But the stakes couldn't be higher. It's worth it to tarnish himself a bit now to win the presidency."
This is classic Clintonism. The ex-president repeatedly used racism in his for the White House, as borne out by the Sista Soulja episode at the Rainbow Coalition and his personal supervision of the execution of a mentally retarded prisoner in Arkansas.
Tom Daschle also ripped Mr. Clinton. Today’s New York Times reports:
Tom Daschle of South Dakota, former Senate majority leader, denounced Mr. Clinton’s conduct as "not keeping with the image of a former president." In a conference call with reporters arranged by the Obama campaign, Mr. Daschle compared the onslaught of criticism to Republican attacks leveled at him in 2004, when he lost his seat.
"This is the same kind of tactic that Washington uses quite frequently," Mr. Daschle said, adding: "I think it destroys the party. Ultimately it’s going to divide us, and it’s going to have a lasting effect down the road if it doesn’t stop soon."
The Times also reports that Bill Clinton’s role is not accidental:
"Advisers to Mr. Clinton said that some of his criticism of Mr. Obama had been choreographed with campaign advisers and that some had been spontaneous.
His attack on Mr. Obama for declaring that he had maintained more steadfast opposition to the war than had Mrs. Clinton — an assertion the former president referred to as a "fairy tale" — was discussed in advance within the campaign as a way to sharpen public and media focus on Mr. Obama’s record, advisers said. (It is unclear whether the term "fairy tale" was Mr. Clinton’s idea or was fed to him.)"
The sharpness of Clinton’s attacks along with the use of coded language clearly has racist overtones. African American, Latino, Asian and white voters are sure to draw the right conclusions.