Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Clintons Play the Race Card

By Joe Sims

Why did Obama lose yesterday’s New Hampshire primary? In the opinion of the editor’s of none other than the New York Times, major consideration has to be given to the injection of racism into the campaign by none other than Hillary and Bill Clinton themselves. In its lead editorial, the Times wrote that Senator Clinton ran an “angry campaign" in New Hampshire and:

“polls showed that voters noticed. She won narrowly, but came perilously close to injecting racial tension into what should have been — and still should be — an uplifting contest between the first major woman candidate and the first major African-American candidate.”

For the centrist NYT to say “perilously close” in reality means that it actually occurred – so much so that it was cause for alarm. The editorial continues:

“In the days before the voting, Mrs. Clinton and her team were so intent on talking about how big a change a woman president would be — and it surely would — that some of her surrogates even suggested that it would be a more valuable change than an African-American president…In Mrs. Clinton’s zeal to make the case that experience (hers) is more important than inspirational leadership (Mr. Obama’s), she made some peculiar comments about the relative importance of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and President Lyndon Johnson to the civil rights cause. She complimented Dr. King’s soaring rhetoric, but said: “Dr. King’s dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. ... It took a president to get it done. ”

Clinton has been all along not-so-subtly suggesting that Senator Obama is not up to the task of being president, not “experienced enough” in the New York senator’s words. In essence, Clinton is arguing that Obama is not “qualified.” Now where have we heard that before?

The Times editors saw it this way:

“It was hard to escape the distasteful implication that a black man needed the help of a white man to effect change. She pulled herself back from the brink by later talking about the mistreatment and danger Dr. King faced.”

If Mrs. Clinton “pulled back” her husband, in the opinion of the Times went way over the line. They wrote:

“Former President Bill Clinton, who seems to forget he is not the one running, hurled himself over the edge on Monday with a bizarre and rambling attack on Mr. Obama.”

A conclusion that the Clinton's engaged in racially charged campaigning in New Hampshire seems unavoidable. Whether it was deliberate or unconscious isn't important. What is important is that it helped turn the election in their favor. In this regard, any discussion of the “Bradley effect” in the New Hampshire primary must consider the added influence of the Clinton’s role. (The Bradley effect is named for the late Tom Bradley who ran for governor of California and lost narrowly after being well ahead in the polls). It wasn’t that voters just made up their minds at the last minute, they were pushed in a certain direction by the Clinton couple themselves.

One should not be surprised by the Clinton’s ploys. After all it was Bill Clinton himself who traveled to a Rainbow Coalition meeting in Washington during his first campaign and attacked a young rapper “Sista Souljah” to prove he wasn’t “pandering” to the Black vote. It was also Clinton who traveled back to Arkansas to preside over the execution of young mentally disabled African American man. It was the same Clinton who went to a Black church and chastised African Americans for behaving with “reckless abandonment” and loose morals.

In all likelihood several factors combined to produce the New Hampshire vote: the swing of undecided women voters; strong union support for Clinton and an effective get-out-the vote effort, and the playing of the race card by the Clinton’s themselves.


Anonymous said...

So now we have a woman and a black man running and the best they can do is they drag the race card out How sad these are the sam lowlifes that help lie us into a war I guess next we'll hear about how rudy is a virgin the people of New Hampshere should be pissed but seems the New york rag is desperate seeing they lost pretty much all credibility but would'nt just ignore all the sexism that was spewed towards Senator Clinton nope what a peice of trash not fit for the bottom of birdcage

cethirien said...

Her "ready for change" slogan is also reminiscent of the "reformer with results" byline of the Bush campaign in 2000.

Donna Brazile, a staunch establishment democrats also made similar suggestions that thinly disguised racism was creeping into the Clinton camp's counterattack. As they were flailing and throwing anything that could stick in the days after Iowa, one can see how this is not just possible but probable.

I myself would think that a large part was played by the backlash against the over the top sexism of Saturday and Sunday. Amazing how these things can hinge on purely personal defining moments, like when she teared and became emotional about what she wants for the country.

It was a big mistake to scoff at that, and Edwards suffered the most from it.

Anonymous said...

The only place "RACE" has been raised in this campaign is by the MEDIA. Martin Luthur King Jr. was a man who worked for change, he was not a politician!. Without polical support and specifically Presidential suppot the civil rights amendment would have NEVER been passed. In fact, our current President did not want the amendment renewed. The Clintons at no time indicated that race played into the staement they made, just fact. It is the MEDIA that has inflicted "race" into the comments.

As to Hillary stating that she would be the first women President, again, that is fact and has nothing to do with "race". The media saying anything different is obsurd and totally discounts John Edwards and the other candidates in this campaign. Hillary is the only woman.

The media does not seem to believe that the Clintons have enough brains to say what they think, anyone can throw "inferences" into any statement made by anyone! Let's STOP LISTENING TO MEDIA and START LISTENING TO THE CADIDATES!!!

Use your OWN intellect to make a decision and STOP allowing the media to make them for you

normanmarkowitz said...

Actually, as the campaign progresses, Senator Obama is beginning to represent the movement around him, which is both growing and progressive.
Obama is clearly the better candidate of the two, but the media has an interest in provoking a fight between the two, not only for ratings purposes but because it deflects attention away from the Republican Right(by the way, on this very issue, the "race card," I have noticed that CNN is using African-American female conservative commentators to discuss the issue(a group not exactly "mainstream among African-Americans or women for that matter.
I am also beginning to agree a bit with Joe's point and the NYT. "Experience" may very well be a code word for Black and a double edged message 1. an African American can't win and 2. an African-American can't be trusted to lead if he does win.
We should also remember that Bill Clinton, however "good he may look compared to his successor and his two immediate predecessors, was a leader of the center-right Democratic Leadership Council before he became president and the most conservative Democratic president in terms of both what he represented and what he actually did elected in the twentieth century(that includes Truman, who launched the cold war and the repression against the left but ran an an expanded New Deal program and did fight against the right on domestic economic issues, and Jimmy Carter, who moved away from traditional Democratic liberal-labor politics, but not as completely as Bill Clinton) Hillary Clinton has not shown me that she is politically different in any serious way from her husband.
John Kerry said it well today in endorsing Obama. We need a transformation, not a transition.
The mass forces that are now rallying around Obama want a transformation and know that they won't get it from Clinton

We Need Hillary said...

It's clear that Bill Clinton was referring to the media coverage of Obama, and the lack of questions regarding statements Obama had made. Obama has in no way received the same scrutiny that Hillary has.

The media has created a "fairytale" by not looking for facts. All candidates should be scrutinized so we are not left with a fairytale.

Read this:
Just hours after his wife got choked up on the campaign trail, President Clinton showed anger and frustration as he complained that the press has given a free pass to the nascent front-runner in the Democratic presidential contest, Senator Obama of Illinois.

"It is wrong that Senator Obama got to go through 15 debates trumpeting his superior judgment and how he had been against the war in every year, enumerating the years, and never got asked one time--not once, 'Well, how could you say that when you said in 2004 you didn't know how you would have voted on the resolution? You said in 2004 there was no difference between you and George Bush on the war. And you took that speech you're now running on off your Web site in 2004. And there's no difference in your voting record and Hillary's ever since.'" Mr. Clinton said at a town-hall style meeting Monday afternoon at Dartmouth College. "Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen."