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Tilting at Windmills

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January 11, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

CODE WORDS?....Some fragments from the past couple of days: "shuck and jive," "kid," "pickup basketball at Harvard," "Lynch him in a back alley," "It took a president to get it done."

Question: Are subtle racial appeals on the rise in the past week? Or are we creating news where nothing exists? Please keep the conversation civil.

Kevin Drum 1:53 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (167)

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Comments

Here's a new one to add to your list:

In the words of that Clinton adviser: "If you have a social need, you're with Hillary. If you want Obama to be your imaginary hip black friend and you're young and you have no social needs, then he's cool."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,2238148,00.html

Posted by: the good reverend on January 11, 2008 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Question: Are subtle racial appeals on the rise in the past week? Or are we creating news where nothing exists?

Answer: Yes to both questions.

Posted by: Woody Allen Poe on January 11, 2008 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

I doubt using the word "lynch" in the same sentence where an African American is the subject is in any way subtle. The speaker passed "coded" at a high rate of speed on that one.

Posted by: steve duncan on January 11, 2008 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

Salience. The events of the past weeks have made us more aware of them, have made the media more likely to pick them up, and increased the returns to protesting/opposing them.

Whether this is good or bad depends on whether you think this kind of language is acceptable or not.

Posted by: EthanJ on January 11, 2008 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

"Code Words"?

I see overt racism coming from the Clinton camp.

Honestly, to my eye and ear they've been playing the "who does this uppity negro think he is" card for several weeks.

Posted by: Callimaco on January 11, 2008 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

[Trolling deleted]

Posted by: Al on January 11, 2008 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Callimaco, I think Clinton's message has been
"who does this naive-but-charming, wet-behind-the-ears kid think he is?"

I have clearly heard the youth attack - not the racial one.

Posted by: EthanJ on January 11, 2008 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

The question is: "Are subtle racial appeals on the rise in the past week?"

My gut feeling is yes, but not necessarily as a planned or intended strategy. White folks, even well-intentioned ones, carry around some stereotypes and biases that come to the surface when race becomes an issue.

It's pretty easy to take each instance you name (and a few you didn't) and explain them away as "a poor choice of words". But when you take them all together, you have to ask whether these poor choices reflect racial bias. Would Cuomo have said "shuck and jive" if he was talking about a contest between white men? I have no idea, but I know he did choose that phrase to talk about a contest in which Mr. Obama is a candidate.

Billy Shaheen's "drug dealer" comments raise similar questions. In the past, no one asked if white candidates who admitted to drug use were also dealers (crackpot theories about Bill Clinton and the Mena airport notwithstanding).

Short answer: I don't think anyone is making a plan to race bait Obama. I do think some indications of racial bias are rising to the surface of the debate.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on January 11, 2008 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

Subtle racial appeals? In the United States? I guess it's progress that they're now subtle.

Posted by: jrw on January 11, 2008 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

Ooh, another one taking Obama to task for laziness:

"He was a part-time state senator for a few years, and then he came to the Senate and immediately started running for president," she said. "And that's his prerogative. That's his right. But I think it is important to compare and contrast our records."

http://www.lvrj.com/news/13702902.html

Posted by: the good reverend on January 11, 2008 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

As noted above:

"In the words of that Clinton adviser: "If you have a social need, you're with Hillary. If you want Obama to be your imaginary hip black friend and you're young and you have no social needs, then he's cool."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,2238148,00.html

Wow. That's extraordinarily racist - a classic devaluation of the very reality of a black man. It says Clinton, a white woman, is more real than Barack Obama. So supporting her is real, while supporting Obama imaginary.

That's just disgusting.

Posted by: Callimaco on January 11, 2008 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not trying to apologize for any of those comments (particularly Rove's), but the reaction to them is bit disingenuous unless we admit that a large part of Obama's APPEAL is that he's African-American. Yes, many young people are, indeed, attracted to him because he's "history-making," etc. I understand that impulse, of course - but those feelings are, in the end, incidental to whether or not he's the best candidate (which he well may be; I'm on the fence).

I'm also struck by the fact that few pundits or bloggers have pointed out the superficiality of the post-racist attitudes of Obama's young "independents"; via Obama, they get to "strike a blow against racism" at no risk whatsoever to themselves, unlike folks (black and white) who actually moved the civil rights cause along in earlier generations. I'm afraid I'm old enough to remember when racism was, well, not respected, but still very much in evidence - and many of the people who now cheer at Obama rallies would, I think, not have marched in Selma (no, I didn't either).

So needless to say, feel-good anti-racist messages have their mirror in these creepy veiled-racist messages. You simply can't have the positive side of the race card without the negative one, can you . . .

Posted by: Thomas Garvey on January 11, 2008 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

People see and hear what they want to see and hear.

I noticed on the news casts last night that when Ben Bernanke announced possible cuts in interest rates by the Fed, his voice shook. Markets around the world hang on his every word and it was obvious that he was nervous. But, today, there is not a peep in the news about his obvious display of emotion.

Posted by: emmarose on January 11, 2008 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

I'm also struck by the fact that few pundits or bloggers have pointed out the superficiality of the post-racist attitudes of Obama's young "independents"; via Obama, they get to "strike a blow against racism" at no risk whatsoever to themselves,

Could I possibly impose upon you for, y'know, evidence of this attitude? Why do you assume that Obama's young independents don't actually think he would make the better president?

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on January 11, 2008 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

Keep it civil???

No good will come of this.

Posted by: B on January 11, 2008 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

If you are worried about subtle or not so subtle racial messages from the Hillary camp, wait for the direct appeals to racial bigotry if Obama is nominated.

I think that both Obama and Hillary will be pilloried in the national campaign by the appeals, by the Republicans, to the basest of human emotions. It's loathsome, but both of them better be prepared for the onslaught.

Posted by: gregor on January 11, 2008 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

Al, AGAIN you moron, Bill Clinton did NOT call Obama's civil rights work a fairytale. He was referring to Obama saying, after claiming he opposed the war in Iraq, that his position wasn't all that different from Bush's, calling the idea of Obama having a consistent and thoroughgoing opposition to Iraq a "fairytale."

Thomas Garvey is right on the appeal side. And, it's not racist for others to point that out. That said, it is disturbing to hear a number of cruder comments from multiple people affiliated with the Clinton campaign.

Woody Allen Poe is very right. Al Sharpton is an asshole for calling Tilghman to be fired when Tiger Woods himself has moved on, and the context makes it clear no intent was involved.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on January 11, 2008 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

"Are subtle racial appeals on the rise in the past week?"

"Lynch him in a back alley" is subtle?

Posted by: Madame Defarge on January 11, 2008 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

Quaker's logic works for me:

It's pretty easy to take each instance you name (and a few you didn't) and explain them away as "a poor choice of words". But when you take them all together, you have to ask whether these poor choices reflect racial bias. Would Cuomo have said "shuck and jive" if he was talking about a contest between white men? I have no idea, but I know he did choose that phrase to talk about a contest in which Mr. Obama is a candidate.

I immediately thought about the linguist (or psycholinguist) who recently studied Bush's speech patterns (no link, sorry) and was surprised to find Bush hyperarticulate on a few topics--when discussing executions, for example, or torture--but of course hopelessly lost when discussing health care.

"Out of the fullness of the heart," I think the verse in Matthew has it, "the mouth speaks." And when the heart is full of (or at least well stocked with) these relics of racism, well, the language will come out, unbidden. Or bidden. I don't know.

Posted by: paxr55 on January 11, 2008 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

My grades on whether these were racial appeals:

"shuck and jive"
Probably

"kid,"
Possibly

"pickup basketball at Harvard,"
Possibly

"Lynch him in a back alley,"
Coming out of the mouth it did, probably not, but still pretty much a firing offense because of how it's understood

"It took a president to get it done."
Nope

Posted by: frankly0 on January 11, 2008 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

Are subtle racial appeals on the rise? Are overt racial and racist appeals on the rise? And sexist ones? And does anyone think it's going to stop there?

D: historic opportunity to elect first (woman / African-American) !
R: that's divisive, racist/sexist, and un-American !
D: to say that is divisive, racist/sexist, and un-American !

R: (hysterical-weak-timid / criminal-scary-lazy) !
D: that's divisive, racist/sexist, and un-American !
R: to say that is divisive, racist/sexist, and un-American !

I just can't wait to see what new lows of bigotry and hypocrisy this election will sink to...

Posted by: bleh on January 11, 2008 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

Having teenage children and their African-American friends in my house and car almost constantly for the last 15 years, I can tell you that they do not have the same reaction to code words that I do. The kids are very open and casual with each other (sometimes way too much for me). I would look at the age of the person who is talking to decide how they mean something. It's a different day now, and I don't want to burden our children with our baggage.

Posted by: Th on January 11, 2008 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

But when you take them all together

You realize that some of these quotes are from Rove, some of them are from random Hillary supporters, some are from unattributed staffers, and the most innocuous are from the candidate (and spouse).

White folks, even well-intentioned ones, carry around some stereotypes and biases that come to the surface when race becomes an issue.

Everyone has some issue with race. Whether it be hypersensitivity, uncomfortableness, irrationality, or ignorance. Misinterpretations and miscommunications galore. Obama is pretty much the only one who can put this baby to sleep. Or he can let it fester, poison the democratic electorate, and use it to win in primaries in the south. Not saying he created the situation, just that his leadership is the only civil way out. That was one hell of a "non-endorsement."

Posted by: B on January 11, 2008 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Watch this:

Bitch, man-hater, penis envy, shopaholic, daddy's girl, frigid

Politics is such fun!

Posted by: Matt on January 11, 2008 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

"Al Sharpton is an asshole for calling Tilghman to be fired when Tiger Woods himself has moved on, and the context makes it clear no intent was involved."

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on January 11, 2008 at 3:32 PM
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The woman is supposed to be a professional broadcaster. Professional. A professional music critic wouldn't lament the latest Elton John effort as sounding like someone on his hands and knees squealing like a piggy. Nor would he scoff having done so his intentions had been misread. Golf is a genteel game. Television hosts are expected to be commensurately genteel in their comments. Had a man linked lynching and Tiger Woods his future employment might include calling the action at demolition derbies at county fairs.

Posted by: steve duncan on January 11, 2008 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

Could someone please make a list of phrases that, while they had racist origins, are in common usage today, and give people the benefit of the doubt? I think I may have used 'shuck and jive' at some point in my life and never thought of it with a racial overtone. I'll sure stop now though.

Just to be clear, the 'lynch' statement was made by a sportscaster, not a Hillary surrogate. And even Tiger himself does not think the sportscaster meant it in a racist way.

Should the word lynch just be stricken from the lexicon?

You know who could fix this in a heartbeat if they wanted to? Barack and Hillary themselves. It would be a wonderful Democratic unifying event if they could make a joint appearance and issue a statement. Yeah, I know I'm too naive and hopeful. They're waiting until the convention when one of them has slapped the other silly with this stuff.

Posted by: DML on January 11, 2008 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

I think Sen. Clinton's campaign is using subtle bigotry as attacks on Sen. Obama. I hope they will find out that the same reflex Democratic voters have to rally behind a candidate that is subjected to sexist prejudice is similar to the one they will have when a candidate is subjected to racial prejudice.

Perhaps Obama should stage an incident at one of his campaign stops where hecklers want him to pick their cotton. Instead of tearing up, he should respond with cries of 'Don't beat me master.'

Posted by: Brojo on January 11, 2008 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

Just to be clear, the 'lynch' statement was made by a sportscaster, not a Hillary surrogate. And even Tiger himself does not think the sportscaster meant it in a racist way.

I agree with all that. But intent, in that job, is only part of the issue. There are certain things you just don't say because of how people will understand them.

Life is unfair, especially to the clueless.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 11, 2008 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

I suspect that the race baiting from the right will soon be drowned out by the "Obama is a muslim terrorist, trained in a madrass" line, but Karl Rove wouldn't be Karl Rove if he wasn't doing a little bit of race baiting on the side. As for Andy Cuomo's remark, I think "Shuck and Jive" achieved mainstream status years. It may have had racist origins, but it outlived them a long time ago.

I think it's obvious that Bill Clinton was hitting Obama's inexperience, and what Clinton saw as hin naivete. You have to look awfully hard for a reason to take umbrage with his remarks, although I'm sure some will (it's their job).

In passing, I have a couple of friends, both lifelong Democrats, who live in Chicago. Both of them are somewhat favorably inclined towards Obama, but the both say he was a pretty unimpressive State Senator, at least in terms of legislative achievement

Posted by: Paul Gottlieb on January 11, 2008 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

Some of those comments were just dumb. Shuck and jive??? Seriously? Very dumb. I think that they are just as dumb as comments about age differences.

Posted by: Susan on January 11, 2008 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Easy Kevin ole boy, you’ll be accused yourself of something you are innocent of. Note that some of your commenters think this is all about the Clintons.

shuck and jive: phrase used by Andrew Cuomo in an extended answer (that made no mention of Obama and was not about Obama) to a question (that made no mention of Obama and was not about Obama).

kid: I follwed the links all the way. Bill Clinton was quoted at length, but never said “kid” or anything like it. Donna Brazile seemed to accuse Bill of using the word, but it wasn’t in the quotes provided.

pickup basketball at Harvard: Karl Rove is the one who used this phrase, not either of the Clintons. Rove is also the guy who explicitly said that Obama is sometimes lazy.

Lynch him in a back alley: phase used by a lady discussing Tiger Woods and his golf dominance. Nothing to do with the Clintons.

It took a president to get it done: As pointed out by Greg Sargent, NYT keeps truncating the quote. Appears Hillary (a fan of MLK since young teenager) was comparing LBJ to Kennedy if you read the entire quote.

Posted by: jackohearts on January 11, 2008 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

To "Quaker in the Basement" - it would be rather hard to find hard "evidence" of the impulses I'm describing, wouldn't it; how many Obama supporters would tell any survey that, deep down, they simply thought it was cool to be voting for the young, black guy? Yet common sense nudges one somewhere with the intimation that such a surmise is probably true. And who can help but notice that racism is the one and only thing worthy of moral censure among many young people (along with the illusion that this idea somehow makes them better than their parents)? Such easily self-flattering sentiments, I'd argue, may well undergird much of Obama's support.

Of course Obama may, indeed, prove to be a great president, and would certainly get my vote over any Republican. Still, his experience IS thin, and he DOES speak largely in terms of vague uplift. It's far harder to make the case, in fact, that people are attracted to him because of some hard-headed analysis of his ability, because his ability simply hasn't been proven. And let's not forget, while I'm musing about Obama's appeal, that his calls for transcending partisanship offer an easy out for those foolish enough to have supported the Iraq War (I know, he opposed it), or the Bush administration in its early stages. Obama implictly promises to simply wipe those mistakes away; for many complacent Democrats, and many Republicans too, that no doubt has a lot of appeal.

Posted by: Thomas Garvey on January 11, 2008 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

As for Andy Cuomo's remark, I think "Shuck and Jive" achieved mainstream status years. It may have had racist origins, but it outlived them a long time ago.

Anybody who hears the word "jive", in particular, and doesn't immediately think that it has great potential to have racial overtones just isn't paying attention.

And politicians are paid to pay attention.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 11, 2008 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

How sad that it has taken the greatest democratic republic the world has ever known, 145 years since the Emancipation Proclamation to even have a black man in a position to ascend to the highest office in the land. No one else has even come close.

Ignorance is at the core of all racism, since Barack Obama is only different from Dick Cheney by the concentration of melanin under his skin. He is likely more intelligent than Cheney, since Cheney barely finished college and Obama was Law Review at Harvard. Yet, there remain many Americans who think Obama is not qualified to be president because of the racial background of one of his parents.

The big question is - Why are so many Americans still so ignorant???

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on January 11, 2008 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

Yet common sense nudges one somewhere with the intimation that such a surmise is probably true.

"Common sense" lets us believe almost anything we wish.

I'm sure that people support Mr. Obama for all sorts of reasons; among them, that he is black. Likewise, it's just as likely that Ms. Clinton has supporters who like the fact that she is female, Mr. Edwards wins voters who like him because he is southern, and Mr. Huckabee gets voters who like him because he is Baptist.

We should have a problem with all of these or none of them.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on January 11, 2008 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

The former president was pretty clearly trying to get at the issue of experience. I don't think there's any question that race didn't have anything to do with his comment, at even the subconscious level (as I think was the case with both Cuomo & the golf announcer) but he & others looking to exploit that theme will need to be conscious of the fact that less thoughtful expressions might, to some ears, sound like calling Obama "boy." And even the more thoughtful expressions can be twisted by the cynical.

Posted by: junebug on January 11, 2008 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

Ooh, another one taking Obama to task for laziness: "He was a part-time state senator for a few years, and then he came to the Senate and immediately started running for president," she said. "And that's his prerogative. That's his right. But I think it is important to compare and contrast our records."

She is referring to an article in the July NYT in which Obama himself characterized his Illinois senate experience as part-time. Guess all campaign remarks need to come with footnotes this year.

Posted by: DML on January 11, 2008 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

I must admit that until recently I was wondering how it was that so many seasoned, intelligent politicos could say such stupid things.

At this point I am thinking that all of the "gaffes" have been planned by the Clinton camp.

None of the other campaigns have laid down such a string of supposed gaffes.

Posted by: Chris Brown on January 11, 2008 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

For me "Shuck and Jive" is right up there with "Iron my Shirt". I await the "Shine my Shoes" at an Obama event.

Posted by: tin foil on January 11, 2008 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

It all sounds like classic Rove-ism to me. The Clintons' strength was seen to be their appeal to black voters (1st black president, etc.), so therefore the way to attack them is to say they and their subordinates are being racist. Only problem with this theory: Rove is off writing columns for Newsweek.

Posted by: Robert on January 11, 2008 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

It is impossible to discuss Obama and not discuss race, as it is impossible to discuss Clinton and not discuss gender. Many people wish to break the color barrier on the presidency, and many people want to break the gender barrier. Each is a worthy goal.

What is upsetting,and disquieting to me, is how African Americans take offense at so many things that whites say which are not racist, which seems to be polluting the debate. When Clinton described Obama as naive and irresponsible, someone posted that this was racist, since that was the way the "man" talked about blacks in the south. Who knew? Then if anyone mentions certain things that Obama brought up in his own book, like his prior drug use, well, thats racist too even thought he brought it up and published it.

Heck if Obama people think its racist now you have see nothing and are...'cough'...naive. Shoot, I heard a radio personality here in my town yesterday say Obama needs to be investigated for his Muslim ties, "whether they be terrorist or not." Thats what you all can expect people. So let him take his hits now; he will be stronger for it.

I suppose all of this is inevitable. I just fervently hope that we dont degenerate as Dems into woman vs. black, make nasty accusations against each other and blow our great opportunity in the fall.

Bottom line for me is I am glad neither HRC nor Obama can cost to the election but must earn it through hard work and good policies against a formidable opponent. Whomever is left standing at the convention will be a much stronger and more formidable candidate against the Repub hate machine than someone who waltzed to the nomination (I am assuming there is nothing wrong to blacks or women with using the word "waltz". Just a joke.)

Posted by: Jammer on January 11, 2008 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

jackohearts: great work! Deserves a repost:

shuck and jive: phrase used by Andrew Cuomo in an extended answer (that made no mention of Obama and was not about Obama) to a question (that made no mention of Obama and was not about Obama).

kid: I followed the links all the way. Bill Clinton was quoted at length, but never said “kid” or anything like it. Donna Brazile seemed to accuse Bill of using the word, but it wasn’t in the quotes provided.

pickup basketball at Harvard: Karl Rove is the one who used this phrase, not either of the Clintons. Rove is also the guy who explicitly said that Obama is sometimes lazy.

Lynch him in a back alley: phase used by a lady discussing Tiger Woods and his golf dominance. Nothing to do with the Clintons.

It took a president to get it done: As pointed out by Greg Sargent, NYT keeps truncating the quote. Appears Hillary (a fan of MLK since young teenager) was comparing LBJ to Kennedy if you read the entire quote.

Posted by: Jammer on January 11, 2008 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

The "lynch" comment and the "shuck and jive" comments aren't coded at all. They're direct references. The "pickup basketball" and "kid" are either intentionally coded or tinged with racism. "It took a president" was not racist, just stupid and clumsy and bad history.

Posted by: twc on January 11, 2008 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I don't mean to raise too many hackles (which of course would be totally out of character for me), but one thing that has occurred to me that's at least interesting is how much more forbidden negative or loaded language is when it comes to race than when it comes to gender.

People openly talk even in liberal blog comments about Hillary as being a shrew, a bitch, a ball-buster, etc.

But even the most indirect potential slur about race is seized upon, and punished as an unforgivable offense worthy of ostracism. It's simply unthinkable that any racial term that might be a real analogue to "shrew" for women could be uttered in such a context.

I'm not really saying it should be otherwise. I actually do think that for various reasons race is far more delicate and dangerous issue than gender.

But it's an interesting illustration of that underlying reality, I think.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 11, 2008 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

With Kelly Tilghman and the lynching of Tiger Woods, probably just abject stupidity. Shuck and jive: Definitely. The rest, maybe.

Posted by: redterror on January 11, 2008 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

I think you should make it plain where these quotes are from, because a lot of people seem to assume they all come from the Clinton camp.

Posted by: Tripp on January 11, 2008 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Duncan, you're taking Tilghman's words out of context of a whole set of dialogue, including Nick Faldo saying, right before that, that a way to stop Tiger would be to take him in a back alley and beat him up.

You're also not putting Al Sharpton's comments into the context of, well... Al Sharpton.

If Al wants anybody fired, he can start by firing himself from his abused self-created soapbox.

Quaker: Great last comment. And, the most abhorrent are those who vote for Huck because he's a Baptist. Remember, Americans say they would be less likely to vote for an atheist (that's people like me) than a gay person. For all I know, somebody here might have a bias against me.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on January 11, 2008 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

More on Clinton and Obama’s “fairytale”

Here , the Slickster explains in detail how Obama’s “fairytale” is about his allegedly consistent and continued opposition to the Iraq war.

“We went through 15 debates and the Obama campaign has made the argument that his relative lack of service in the Senate was not relevant because he had better judgment than the other Democrats on the Iraq War...” Bill said. “And I pointed out that he'd never been asked about his statements in 2004 that he didn't know how he'd have voted on the Iraq War, and that there was no significant difference between his position as President Bush’s.”

Obama’s lame explainer:
Obama has said during this campaign that he hedged on his answer about the Iraq War authorization vote because he did not want to openly disagree with John Kerry and John Edwards, as they were the party's ticket at the national convention where he was speaking, and both of whom had voted for the war and yet to repudiate it.

Hey, Obama, that didn’t stop Dennis Kucinich in 2004, among others. Puhleeze.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on January 11, 2008 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

"Keep it civil???

No good will come of this."

I agree.

Posted by: drosz on January 11, 2008 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary is screwed with black voters:

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0108/7845.html

This is the kind of thing that is not going to go away no matter what she does. This is what black voters are going to be talking about for next week and the stench won't be easily covered up no matter how much Bill and Hillary explain. The more they explain the worse it'll get -- pretty soon she talk about how some of her best friends are black. As long as Obama heeds the late Lee Atwater's advice (Stay out of the way when your opponent is engaged in self-destruction) he'll benefit mightily from this. Obama has Clyburn's endorsement in the bank now. And the longer this goes on, the more NY, NJ and CA politicians are going to be reluctant to vocally support Hillary.

Posted by: Blue Moon on January 11, 2008 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

I can't see how any reasonable person wouldn't see that "shuck and jive" is a racially-loaded phrase. Andrew Cuomo knew exactly what he was saying. Either that, or he is the dumbest human on the planet. And I know that's not the case, because Dumbya still lives here.

Posted by: MeLoseBrain? on January 11, 2008 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

I support Obama over Clinton. And I think this is a case of "two of these are not like the others". The Bill and Hilary ones aren't racist at all.

There are some situations where calling a black man "boy" is racist, but I've never heard that argument about the word "kid" -- and more importantly, that's obviously not what Bill meant. Doubly so for "it took a president to get it done." Imagine that MLK were alive today -- he would wholeheartedly agree with that statement. The whole point of MLK's political agenda was that powerful people needed to do brave things, because bravery by protesters, while necessary, is never sufficient.

Compare that to:
1. Resurrecting the phrase "shuck and jive", which, as someone under 30, I have hear fewer times in my life than I've heard "macaca"
2. Rove's insane attempts to imply that Obama was a lazy jock
3. A sports announcer joking about lynching a black person.

It's not even close, and pretending it's close insults everyone's intelligence.

Posted by: Tom Veil on January 11, 2008 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas,

I think you put too much emphasis on how younger people view race. It's an issue, of course, but not THE issue it has been in the past for other generations. It may not be better or worse or earned, but it's definitely different. I don't know how else to describe it. Obama's race means very little to me beyond how it has shaped his worldview.

Posted by: drosz on January 11, 2008 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

The Guardian UK "example" is also taken out of context, and is already making the rounds of comment threads in a spam-like fashion.

Posted by: iamcoyote on January 11, 2008 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

Sometimes you really don't mean it in the worst way it can be taken.

A few weeks ago I was in a Japanese restaurant with my family. My son and I were speaking some limited Japanese (we took two semesters of Japanese at a local community college last year) with the staff, who were Japanese immigrants. When the manager, who was not Japanese, came to our table and spoke English to us, I complimented him on his English, telling him he spoke it like a native. He smiled and said that was because he was from Lemon Grove, California, and we chatted about the meal for a few seconds.

Later my wife asked me if I realized how racist what I had said could be taken to be, since the manager was African-American. I said I hadn't, but I can see how it might be taken so.

It's a good thing I'm never going to run for an office.

Posted by: anandine on January 11, 2008 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

When Bill Clinton finds himself having to explain himself on Al Sharpton radio program, like some reincarnation of Imus, you know he's in trouble.

Posted by: lampwick on January 11, 2008 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

Anybody going to mention Jesse Jackson Jr.'s two-fer of sexism and race-baiting? "Her appearance brought her to tears, but not Hurricane Katrina." Or was that too uncoded?

Posted by: Emartin on January 11, 2008 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

Well, it is far beyond code. I get all sorts of kooky forwards from redneck relatives and SURE ENOUGH I get the first one about Obama a couple of days before the primary. The subject line is "Obama's Church". A snippet: "If you look at the first page of their website, you will learn that this congregation has a non-negotiable commitment to Africa. No where is AMERICA even mentioned!" What's funny is they talk about his middle name being MOHAMMED! It is probably intentional, so if it gets brought up, somebody will correct them and tell them it is HUSSEIN! Then that will of course, make them think he is Saddam's cousin and that's far worse...

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on January 11, 2008 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK
....since Barack Obama is only different from Dick Cheney by the concentration of melanin under his skin....The Conservative Deflator at 4:09 PM
And Clinton differs only in a matter of sex organs. However, the two differ from Cheney in more important ways: they both have brains and hearts.

frankly0, don't leave out the old Southern standby 'boy'

Callimaco at 3:13 PM: the full quote was: "If you have a social need, you're with Hillary. If you want Obama to be your imaginary hip black friend and you're young and you have no social needs, then he's cool." While I'm as impressed by anonymous quotes as anyone, the intent, however ineptly expressed, was not racist. It was clearly an attempt to delineate policy driven voters or voters wanting social programs.

Posted by: Mike on January 11, 2008 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

... even the most indirect potential slur about race is seized upon, and punished as an unforgivable offense worthy of ostracism. It's simply unthinkable that any racial term that might be a real analogue to "shrew" for women could be uttered in such a context.

Misogynist language is plenty hateful, but racist language has the weight of institutionalized brutality behind it. There wasn't a war fought over the issue of the ERA. There's no equivalent to the Klan when it comes to opponents of feminism. To be sure, awful things are said about -- and sometimes even done to -- women, but I don't think they can be compared to slavery & its legacies.

Posted by: junebug on January 11, 2008 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

I find Clinton's assertion of superior experience to Obama very curious, considering he has served in elected office more than half again as long as she has. It might be worth considering what social context makes it possible for Clinton to get traction with this.

Posted by: aretino on January 11, 2008 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

"It took a president to get it done," is a subtle racial appeal? That's so crazy I would expect to hear it from Chris Mathews! From you, Kevin Drum, it's disappointing.

Posted by: Dodger on January 11, 2008 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

Anybody going to mention Jesse Jackson Jr.'s two-fer of sexism and race-baiting?

Well, you just did. Now maybe you could try to make it relevant?

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on January 11, 2008 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

I just chastised TPM for adding to their headline
a reference to an interview Bill Clinton had w/Charlie Rose last month. It made a small blip at the time. However, in the midst of all this racial brouhaha, TPM saw fit to add it to the conversation. I accused them of adding fire to the "race" with old and irrelevant material. This political situation is becoming a "game"- just like Hillary said.

Posted by: fillphil on January 11, 2008 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: mhr on January 11, 2008 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

Here's what I just realized -- if Hillary's JFK / LBJ / MLK discussion was really just aimed at saying that she's LBJ and Obama is JFK, isn't she insulting the Kennedys? "That JFK was all hat and no cattle." Obama ought to bust out with "I'm happy that she sees me as JFK, a politician that had more experience as an elected official than Hillary and I combined when he was elected president."

Posted by: Blue Moon on January 11, 2008 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

I may be grievously out of touch, but I can not fathom any racial overtones, undertones, or any tones at all in the words 'kid' and 'president'. Help me out here, peeps.

Posted by: Arachnae on January 11, 2008 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

We humans haven't really progressed much in the last thousand years, much less the last 150. Both gender and race will be major factors in the primaries, and likely in the general as well. Along with "likeability," they may well determine the outcome -- assuming there is no terrorist event on American soil.

Posted by: Econobuzz on January 11, 2008 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

"it took a president to get it done."
It's an ugly truth that it took a deeply flawed man like LBJ to actually push civil rights legislation through congress, because he was a political creature who knew how to make deals and twist arms. I don't know that either Obama or H. Clinton have LBJ's political skills, though, so the quote is kind of silly. Nor am I sure we would want another LBJ. But the history is there...

"imaginary hip black friend" isn't so much a swipe at Obama, I don't think, as at the number of young middle-class white people who think of themselves as not being racist, but because our society is so segragated, don't actually associate with any African-Aamericans.

Posted by: thersites on January 11, 2008 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK
Anybody going to mention Jesse Jackson Jr.'s two-fer of sexism and race-baiting? "Her appearance brought her to tears, but not Hurricane Katrina." Or was that too uncoded?

I'll have to agree that when I heard Jackson I immediately thought he was hitting below the belt, going after votes in South Carolina based upon racial inuendo.

But I am slow to blame a Candidate for any particular statement made by a supporter, even a campaign offical. If a pattern becomes evident, or something incriminating appears in an ad, that's different.

Both Clintons and Obama will have to be careful. Rival supporters, the media, clueless jerks, tinfoil nasties, and Republican instigators are waiting to incite and to jump.

Posted by: little ole jim on January 11, 2008 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

Lampwick, Bill Clinton made the mistake of going on Al Sharpton show in the first place, giving Sharpton undue credence.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on January 11, 2008 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

I for one actually heard the section of the speech in which Bill Clinton used the words "fairy tale" and he was not referring to "the Dream" but to Obama's voting record on the Iraq war. Let's get it straight, people.

And as far as Andrew Cuomo and all the rest of it - I don't see the blatant and continual sexism present in the attitudes of the other candidates or the media coverage of Senator Clinton's campaign being addressed anywhere - no one is being held accountable for that.

Posted by: mardi on January 11, 2008 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

I want to point something out that’s very obvious to me because I seen in all my life. And it’s something that I cannot imagine not happening.

Karl Rove and his political brethren will try to sow racial discord between the Clinton and Obama camps. If they can throw in a little gender discord, all the better. They love to start such fights. In their minds, it can only hurt Democrats and help Republicans, a win-win phenomenon.

They want Obama supporters so pissed that they would never consider voting for Clinton. They want Clinton supports so enraged that they would never consider voting for Obama.

It’s an easy game to play. And for them it’s great fun. It’s a game they have used in the past to divide and conquer. They will not be able to resist. They are flat out addicted. And they happen to be quite accomplished.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on January 11, 2008 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

So, it is not O.K. to criticize Obama for his lack of experience because that is racist; but it is O.K. to criticize Hillary’s extensive experience by diminishing its importance by, for example, calling her contacts with foreign leaders “tea parties.”

It sounds like the same one-sided lack of accountability is being created that Bush used in 2004: no one was supposed to question his going AWOL as a member of the National Guard during the Vietnam War; but, it was O.K. to smear Kerry’s actual combat experience.

Posted by: emmarose on January 11, 2008 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

Quaker in Basement: "Katrina" = "subtle racial appeal." Not all of them are directed at Obama. Jackson's spectacular sexism was just lagniappe.

Posted by: Emartin on January 11, 2008 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK

Paul Gottlieb: "Shuck and jive" has made the mainstream? Really. Please tell me where because I want to avoid that place.

little ole jim: You may have a great point about Rove, seeing that he has kept quiet for the most part until after NH. Rove and his "math" took a big hit after the 06 elections. Perhaps he wants to regain his "evil genius" title among Republicans.

Posted by: Shine on January 11, 2008 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, what's with this Jesse Jackson Jr. Katrina thing? And also Donna Brazil and the guy on MSNBC talking about The Bradley Effect. They basically said if you don't support Obama, it's because you're racist. Now this is a problem for me, this idea they seem to be implying that you can't disagree or criticize an African-American without be suspected to be a racist. Do Brazil and the others actually think that's fair? That's nuts!

Posted by: xjt on January 11, 2008 at 6:33 PM | PERMALINK

Shine: yes, and there are a lot of Karl Rove clones who don't yet have the name recognition, but hope to be bragging about their audacious trickery a few years from now.

Posted by: little ole jim on January 11, 2008 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

Dog whistles brought down, through heavy-handedness, to normal pitch...

Posted by: wendell on January 11, 2008 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

Honestly, I think the fact that the Obama campaign and all of his supporters are spending such a disproportionate amount of their time counting ways to to ignite some level of feighed outrage over his racial sensitivities being offended in order to energize the black vote is kind of pathetic. His supporters want to carry on about how he transends race, but are waiting with their hankerchiefs out any time a perceived slight is noticed. "Anonymous Clinton Advisor??" I'd like to get further clarification on that one before I decided to run too far down field with it. I realize none of you will, but I'm just sayin'. Also, Andrew Cuomo is a "supporter" of Clinton not an advisor or involved with her campain in any way.

I believe Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are both Obama supporters. Should I get my knickers in a twist and start panting over every racially stupid remark that has ever come out of one of their mouths? Hymie-town or Tawana Brawly ring any bells? Not likely.

Obama couldn't kill her off in NH like he thought he would, and she's alive and well and headed into Feb 5th. Chances are, she'll win with Florida, NY, NJ and more firmly in her column. Obama's only chance is if he can completely galvanize the black vote away from her any way he can. Funny how every news story about Obama has been about some kind of implied racial outrage since NH. Not one story about his stance on any issues.

Posted by: Chris on January 11, 2008 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

I am not sure the references are all that subtle and that Hillary's supporters are the ones anxious to have race and gender and their respective advantages and disadvantages be part of the debate. It was Gloria Steinem, seeking to rally support for Hillary, who argued in her NYT op-ed that sexism is a more "restricting force" in American life than racism. It seemed odd that to promote the historic occasion of the first viable female presidential candidate she felt it necessary to denigrate the equally historic occasion of the first viable African-American candidate. Why put the two at odds?

Posted by: Scott on January 11, 2008 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

I'd say it's Kevin and you readers who are practicing dog-whistle politics.

Kevin's brought it race with regards to Obama a few times now...remember the post about how the rest of the world will respond to an Obama as president?

Kevin and the rest of you guys jumped on Bob Kerrey a few weeks back.

It is too hard to ask you so-called liberals to practice what you preach for a change?

What will it take to get the Washington Monthly and its writers could just focus on the substance of the policies of Obama and Clinton rather than race or gender?

Posted by: Observer on January 11, 2008 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

I'd say it's Kevin and you readers who are practicing dog-whistle politics.

Kevin's brought up race with regards to Obama a few times now...remember the post about how the rest of the world will respond to Obama as president?

Kevin and the rest of you guys jumped on Bob Kerrey a few weeks back.

It is too hard to ask you so-called liberals to practice what you preach for a change?

What will it take to get the Washington Monthly and its writers to just focus on the substance of the policies of Obama and Clinton rather than race or gender?

Posted by: Observer on January 11, 2008 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

Since I have been roundly thrashed for being insensitive to the racism of "shuck and jive" I searched my memory for my associations with that phrase. The one that stands out is a very mediocre Art Garfunkel song called, believe it or not, "Mr. Shuck n' Jive" from his 1974 album Watermark, which I bought those many years ago. And yes, it is available on iTunes right now. the song is about a huckster, and that is always the association I have had with that phrase. There are no racially tinged lyrics - in fact it kind of describes Bill Clinton, if he were a failure. Now I am questioning the little jazz interlude in the middle, however. JUST KIDDING.

Anyway, just thought I would pass that along so you can excoriate Art Garfunkel for a while.

One more point I'd like to make. Do you know what drives true Independent voters absolutely bat-shit crazy? Oversensitivity to racial issues. If Obama's supporters stay on this track they are dooming his general election chances. That is why the only match-up that scares me is McCain v. Obama.

Posted by: Dawn on January 11, 2008 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

Even before Iowa, there was the cocaine story. There was a story in the note that said Hillary's campaign had all but called Obama lazy. And there was a third one I'm forgetting.

This is treading on racist stereotypes--and when there was no mainstream response, they realized they could go farther with white audiences on this.

And now that they've written off South Carolina (her numbers started to drop with the cocaine story, in no small part becuase Black voters knew exactly what she was doing), there's very little holding them back.

It's to their advantage if white people start arguing about "well, was that racist? Or not?" Because it lets them pretend Obama isn't the unifying figure who is inspiring change by appealing to fundamental american values--he's just another uppity negro running a divisive "identity" campaign (ironically, only the Republican Huckabee is running an "identity" campaign; Hillary is the Dem closest to doing this.). He's stirring up stuff just by virtue of his uppity negroness.

The more stories they can write that make it look like Obama is running to be "The First Black President"--which his campaign explicitly ISN'T about--the better it is for her.

It's really, really disgusting. It's incredibly bad for America. And they don't care.

Posted by: anonymous on January 11, 2008 at 7:26 PM | PERMALINK
One more point I'd like to make. Do you know what drives true Independent voters absolutely bat-shit crazy? Oversensitivity to racial issues.

Dawn: this, and many other factors, make it totally unclear which Democrat would ultimately be the benefactor of injecting race into the race. Why would either campaign risk it?

But one thing is for sure: Republicans would benefit big time.

Posted by: little ole jim on January 11, 2008 at 7:29 PM | PERMALINK

I have a hard time with the notion that Barack Obama would never had been in contention if he was not black. I also have a problem that the experience issue is such a big factor now when it was less of a factor when John Edwards ran in 2004. Then Edwards had just two more years in the Senate than Obama has now -- without counting Obama's experience in the Illinois legislature. Gore, in fact, considered Edwards for the Vice Presidency in 2000 after just 2 years in the Senate.

Why?

Because Edwards, like Obama, has charisma.

If Senator Clinton and Obama were both white men, it would be like Mondale and Hart in 1984 with the difference that Obama doesn't have the personal issues that brought Hart down.

Obama happens to be a gifted human being who has risen fast largely due to his gifts. That is all.

Posted by: PE on January 11, 2008 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

The "shuck and jive" comment by Cuomo was not about Obama, it was about politicians in general. That's clear if you read the entire transcript of the interview. Cuomo was saying that small-state primaries like Iowa and New Hampshire are good because candidates have to connect with real voters and can't "shuck and jive at a press conference" like they usually do. Obama had just won Iowa, and Clinton had just won New Hampshire. So I don't see how this amounts to dogwhistle politics.

Posted by: The Fabulous Mr. Toad on January 11, 2008 at 7:40 PM | PERMALINK

fairly saddening that some of the posters in this thread who just can't see what all the fuss is about racially loaded language are the same people who were quite rightly furious about the sexism tossed at Clinton.

Posted by: as it unfolds on January 11, 2008 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

The Clintons are playing the race card in subtle and not so subtle ways, all with deniability.

They are playing to traditional dems who probably don't want to vote for a black person.

This behavior is despicable.

Posted by: bebimbob on January 11, 2008 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a sequence to consider:

Edwards was called a 'faggot' and 'breck girl' by various people, er Republicans.

Iowa and NH were screwed up by cheating of some kind.

After Iowa we started hearing all kinds of nastiness from people claiming to be Obama supporters. They claimed anybody who opposed Obama was racist or unpatriotic or something. Then there's the Hillary "tears" and the question of Edwards sexism.

Then Karl Rove claims Obama is 'prissy'.

Methinks KKKarl has been testing ways to punch people's emotional buttons when they're under pressure.

I don't think we know who should be in the lead and I think Republicans are really screwing with the Dem primaries. We need to start from scratch with our considerations of the candidates and then vote your conscience.

Who would be the best president?

Which candidate is most likely to have a good presidency?

Posted by: MarkH on January 11, 2008 at 8:23 PM | PERMALINK

If Clinton really is doing this on purpose I agree it is despicable. And no one benefits except the Republicans, because Obama can't win without the Independents, and Clinton can't win if she pisses off loyal Dem voters.

I was certainly furious at the sexism tossed at Clinton - by the media, not by Obama's spokespeople, except for a few of his more vitriolic supporters on blogs. To me it was a lot more blatant than this. To take just one example, did Chris Matthews call Obama's white advisors a 'minstrel show' the way he called Clinton's male advisors the 'eunuch chorus'? It is certainly possible I just notice it more because I am a woman. In that case I have been educated by this discussion.

Posted by: Dawn on January 11, 2008 at 8:29 PM | PERMALINK

MarkH: I don't understand why media outlets, like Newsweek, are giving a known disrupter like Karl Rove a platform to spew his destructive comments in this race.

I have alread e-mailed NBC Nightly News, where Rove's comments about the Iowa race were quoted, and told them that after watching their program for over 50 years, I am through.

Hasn't this country suffered enough because of that man?

Posted by: emmarose on January 11, 2008 at 8:32 PM | PERMALINK

Wah wah! Dam liberals!

I gotcher code word-raise my taxes? NO!!!!!!

I gotcher code word-SURRENDER TO THA ENEMY????

NO!!!!

shut it and keep your opinions to yourself. AMerica is free becuz we want it that way. See that flag, fuh-lapppin in the breeze! Freedom.

You hate freedom, so no you don't get to complain.

Waaaaah-rurrrrr wurrr wuurrr! Out!

Posted by: President Evil on January 11, 2008 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

I've defended the Clinton's many times for many things over the last 15 years. But racism? Really? As Josh Marshall says, let's everybody take a deep breath.

Posted by: Dawn on January 11, 2008 at 8:38 PM | PERMALINK

PE,

I disagree that inexperience was not a factor with John Edwards in '04. I think it was a big reason he did not get the nomination for president. He seemed like a perfect choice to inject some youth and charisma as VP.

Posted by: Dawn on January 11, 2008 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK

To take just one example, did Chris Matthews call Obama's white advisors a 'minstrel show' the way he called Clinton's male advisors the 'eunuch chorus'?

Mother of God but that man needs a therapist's couch in the absolute worst way way.

Posted by: junebug on January 11, 2008 at 8:54 PM | PERMALINK

Or even just way.

Posted by: junebug on January 11, 2008 at 8:55 PM | PERMALINK

... even the most indirect potential slur about race is seized upon, and punished as an unforgivable offense worthy of ostracism. It's simply unthinkable that any racial term that might be a real analogue to "shrew" for women could be uttered in such a context.

Misogynist language is plenty hateful, but racist language has the weight of institutionalized brutality behind it. There wasn't a war fought over the issue of the ERA. There's no equivalent to the Klan when it comes to opponents of feminism. To be sure, awful things are said about -- and sometimes even done to -- women, but I don't think they can be compared to slavery & its legacies.


This is an insane comment. Do you know how many women are the victimes of domestic violence everyday? Last year there was several instances of gunmen walking into places and gunning down just the women (the amish school comes to mind). No one talked about the fact that just women were killed. If a gunman walked into a school and systematically killed only black kids it would be all over the papers about the racism involved. But because they were girls it was never discussed.
And, can we please remember that women did not get the right to vote until 50 years after black men.

Posted by: applestooranges on January 11, 2008 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK

Dawn,

Please take a moment to look up the quotes (and heresay) and their contexts. Kevin did us a disservice in throwing them out there in this fashion.

Posted by: asdf on January 11, 2008 at 9:34 PM | PERMALINK

You already know the answer: yes and yes.

The real question, which of course you will not address, is who is behind these insinuations. Name names, Kevin, or STFU.

Posted by: Horatio Parker on January 11, 2008 at 9:38 PM | PERMALINK

thersites said:

"It's an ugly truth that it took a deeply flawed man like LBJ to actually push civil rights legislation through congress..."

I don't agree that LBJ was a "bad person" like so many people seem to believe today. I can certainly understand why many, during his presidency and since, hated him over Vietnam, since they saw so many people losing their lives needlessly. Johnson definitely deserves criticism for not following his instincts and getting the U.S. out of Vietnam. But the larger, pre-Vietnam condemnation of LBJ one hears, particularly from Johnson biographer Robert Caro, seems absurd.

Johnson is frequently condemned, for example, for the obvious vote fraud that played a critical role in his 1948 Senate election. There is no doubt that massive fraud took place. But I don't think it's fair to condemn LBJ and his campaign for this when one looks at the place and time they operated in. Much of Texas was, like Chicago, notoriously corrupt. In whole counties, votes were sold to the highest bidder. If you weren't willing to participate in the fraud, you would be beaten by someone who was. The results were going to be tainted no matter what. Given this, Johnson's behavior becomes understandable and--at least to my way of thinking--justified. And would Johnson's critics rather have had LBJ's opponent, Coke Stevenson--a traditional segregationist--elected to the Senate instead? We might still have Jim Crow today if that had happened.

It's like judging Truman regarding Hiroshima. Even if one disagrees with the decision, one must acknowledge the context in which it took place.

I can see why many people are turned off by LBJ, but I don't think he deserves to be demonized the way he frequently is today.

Posted by: Lee on January 11, 2008 at 9:40 PM | PERMALINK

I'm prepared to say unequivically that everything both of the Clintons have said are unobjectionable and unintended.

Except her remark that LBJ was more important to the Civil Rights movement than Martin Luther King. That proved she as unfit to govern as George W. Bush, and for the same reason.

Posted by: Splitting Image on January 11, 2008 at 10:30 PM | PERMALINK

About Ben Smith's Politico column, "Racial tensions roil Democratic race".

Obama is probably going to win SC. He was probably going to win it before NH and the nastiness unleashed by the Clinton camp.

Thus, Ben Smith is trying to take a good bet (Obama winning SC) and turn it into a narrative (Obama winning SC because of angry black voters).

Posted by: Adam on January 11, 2008 at 10:37 PM | PERMALINK

@applestooranges

Imagine that you were about to be born.

Imagine god told you that your natural lifespan could only be cut short by violence.

Imagine that god then gave you the choice to be male or female.

Which would you choose? What gender is more likely to die by violence?

Posted by: Adam on January 11, 2008 at 10:41 PM | PERMALINK

asdf: what did I take out of context? More specifics, please.

Posted by: Dawn on January 11, 2008 at 10:50 PM | PERMALINK

The Democratic party needs to try to get a handle on the FAST. Everybody's sensitivity levels need to be lowered several notches and real quick because what we have here is a circular firing squad that will just take down the party. The ONLY beneficiary of this prickly, hair-trigger, lashing out at perceived insults to either one's ethnicity or gender by inciting voters is the Republican party.
Democrats, by and large, although of course capable of their own biases and prejudices are not generally racist or sexist. If we let the Karl Roves and their Xerox Republican Noise Machine, misquote each of our candidates and their campaigns. If we let them, hyperinflate what the candidate said and then run with it. If we let them take a word or phras out of context and turn it into a talking point for the Republicans...We all know the the Repugs are better at spreading false infor and staying on false message than the Dems EVEN up to the point that they can PROVOKE A RESPONSE FROM A DEMOCRAT WHO SHOULD KNOW BETTER THAN TO RESPOND TO IT.
Lets not let them make us into our own metaphorical 'suicide bombers' who destroy our own party. LOOK AT THE BIG PICTURE.

Posted by: Merg on January 11, 2008 at 11:05 PM | PERMALINK

If Clinton really is doing this on purpose I agree it is despicable

I've defended the Clinton's many times for many things over the last 15 years. But racism? Really?

I know a lot of people on this thread are confused. Maybe I don't understand the context of your comments. One of Kevin's quotes is about a sportscaster and Tiger Woods. One of them was from Karl Rove. This isn't all about Hillary.

Posted by: asdf on January 11, 2008 at 11:29 PM | PERMALINK

asdf: yes, I think it was confusing that they were not all Clinton related, but I was responding to other posters that were saying things like "I see overt racism coming from the Clinton camp."

Posted by: Dawn on January 11, 2008 at 11:36 PM | PERMALINK

"@applestooranges

Imagine that you were about to be born.

Imagine god told you that your natural lifespan could only be cut short by violence.

Imagine that god then gave you the choice to be male or female.

Which would you choose? What gender is more likely to die by violence?


Posted by: Adam on January 11, 2008 at 10:41 PM | PERMALINK"

Are you serious? I would choose to be a man, because the violence of most men is cause by their own behaviour, not that of a deranged male. Women are killed by men for being women. Men are not killed just for being men. Men are killed many times in fights when both parties are drunk or abusing.

A male that stays sober and out of trouble, will live much longer than a woman that does the same.

Posted by: Harry S/mdana on January 11, 2008 at 11:36 PM | PERMALINK

""imaginary hip black friend" isn't so much a swipe at Obama, I don't think, as at the number of young middle-class white people who think of themselves as not being racist, but because our society is so segragated, don't actually associate with any African-Aamericans."

That's exactly what I thought as well. It's a slam against the lightweight fluff balls who just luuuve Obama cuz he's so cute and, you know, speaks real nice. There was a joke site a while back about a black guy who rented himself out to white couples so they could say they have a black friend that skewered the same mentality.


"Do you know what drives true Independent voters absolutely bat-shit crazy? Oversensitivity to racial issues. If Obama's supporters stay on this track they are dooming his general election chances."

It won't get that far, because it's not just independent voters who are driven batshit crazy by this nonsense. No, the group includes all but about 10% of white voters, period.

Shuckin and jivin is an excellent example of just exactly the issue that drives people batshit. It *is* in the mainstream--so long as it's said by a black man. But it's one of those terms that white people can't say. (Cue a long discussion about the n-word as an extreme example of the same rule).

Obama's entire appeal is premised on the fact that he won't raise those sort of issues. His popularity will nosedive if voters can envision 4 years of insufferable whining about insufficient sensitivity.

So whine away. But then, I'm voting for either Hillary or McCain, and think Obama would be an utter disaster, so anything that reduces the offchance he'll make the primary is all right by me.

Posted by: Cal on January 11, 2008 at 11:42 PM | PERMALINK

Do you know how many women are the victimes of domestic violence everyday? Last year there was several instances of gunmen walking into places and gunning down just the women (the amish school comes to mind). No one talked about the fact that just women were killed. If a gunman walked into a school and systematically killed only black kids it would be all over the papers about the racism involved. But because they were girls it was never discussed.

Nobody argued against the fact of domestic violence against women, but the example you cite is pretty poor, as it was a) random, and b) at the hands of someone who was mentally ill. (And, yes, *plenty* of people noticed the fact that it it was women & girls that he killed. The media went on about it at quite some length -- and for understandable reasons.) If some African-Americans are a little sensitive about racist language, it might be because they live in a country that was built largely on their forced labor, because half the country went to war to keep them in chains, and because discrimination against them was codified into law decades thereafter. Violence against women is a serious thing, as is the glass ceiling, and as is hateful language directed at women. The fact of a woman with a very good shot at being President of the most powerful nation in the history of the planet ought to be a great opportunity for people to repeatedly tell folks like Tweety to STFU when they start going off like they do. But let me know when you find an example of organized, government-sanctioned savagery against women that in any way resembles slavery.

*This isn't, by the way, intended to excuse people who cry racism at the drop of a hat. Just sayin' that there are reasons why people might be sensitive -- even sometimes overly sensitive -- to coded language.

Posted by: junebug on January 12, 2008 at 12:27 AM | PERMALINK

Lee on January 11, 2008 at 9:40: I don't agree that LBJ was a "bad person" like so many people seem to believe today

No argument here. I deliberately used the word "flawed," not "bad" or "evil." I think his aggressive promotion of civil rights is a wonderful example of a man transcending his limitations. Without the horrible blunder that was Vietnam, he would be remembered as a great president.

Posted by: thersites on January 12, 2008 at 1:02 AM | PERMALINK

Last week, I was so proud of my country. I couldn't help comparing the post-racist attitudes of Americans to the emerging racist attitudes of my European neighbors, and really felt the urge to rub it in their faces.

Today I'm back to feeling despair, shame, and hopelessness.

Posted by: KathyF on January 12, 2008 at 2:38 AM | PERMALINK

Individual incidents are individual incidents. However, when one campaign has several of these individual incidents, a pattern clearly emerges. It isn't really that hard to believe that two white 80+ year old southerners have some level of comfort with racism. Given the culture they grew up with, that they would pull from this bag of dirty tricks is hardly surprising.

Posted by: Soullite on January 12, 2008 at 3:43 AM | PERMALINK

My personal opinion is that we're making a mountain out of sawdust when it comes to these remarks, which were offered in the midst of an increasingly bitter political campaign, and are either anonymously attributed or taken out of proper context.

However, I would temper that remark by offering that any and all perceptions of racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia and religious bigotry are at their core inherently subjective personal judgments, and all the more so when one is on the receiving end of the perceived slight or insult in question.

In that regard, as a white person I really have no right to tell a black person to get a life and move on, especially in the face of a perceived offense. Even if it may be a logical observation on my part that the offended party is over-reacting, just a cursory glance at the violent and sorry history of race relations in this country gives the African-American community more than ample reason to be overly defensive about such issues.

Therefore, I tend to be rather open-minded and will give the aggrieved party every opportunity to make their case, which includes giving them the benefit of the doubt when warranted. Because it's often a very fine line between insensitive and offensive, making a distinction between the two is sonmetimes next to impossible.

I would ask people here to carefully consider their own respective answers to the following three questions, before they render their own judgment on the respective arguments of those who find themselves on either side in this current discussion:

(1) Who amongst us has not been guilty at one time or another of casually making an intemperate personal remark that offended someone, which we may or may not have eventually come to regret?

(2) Further, who amongst us has either been on the receiving end of such a remark and not been offended, or been within earshot of one and not felt some sense of embarrassment?

(3) Finally, how many of us have, at one time or another, initially felt a clear sense of anger or outrage in the face of an obvious injustice, but then declined for whatever reason to either speak out or act on behalf of the person or persons being wronged?

Two final thoughts, and then I'm out of here:

One does not necessarily have to be a dick-swinging misogynist or Confederate flag-tatooed neo-Nazi skinhead to be completely tone-deaf to the inumerable public concerns regarding the still-substantial obstacles faced by women and racial / ethnic minorities in this country.

The biggest barrier to the comprehensive resolution of such issues and concerns is -- and, I would daresay, has always been -- the benign negligence of a relatively contented and thus collectively oblivious majority.

Aloha.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 12, 2008 at 5:43 AM | PERMALINK

I don't get the 'plays pickup basketball' one.
I play in two long running weekend games - one is 90% white and one is 90% black. In both games, an enormous amount of trash talking goes on and is considered completely normal. There are numerous basketball references and analogies that have been used as racial code but merely stating 'plays pickup' doesn't do it. I thought Rove was trying to imply Obama had coasted. In "His days playing pickup basketball at Harvard" the key words are days and Harvard. Rove could have 'days spent on the links' or 'time at the club' and made the same point.

As far as Obama being suburban white kids "Alan"
Glen Ford would agree.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/05/AR2007010501613.html
http://www.democracynow.org/2008/1/9/barack_obama_and_the_african_american

Posted by: do't trust whitey on January 12, 2008 at 6:18 AM | PERMALINK

Splitting Image: "Except [Hillary Clinton's] remark that LBJ was more important to the Civil Rights movement than Martin Luther King. That proved she as unfit to govern as George W. Bush, and for the same reason."

She said nothing of the sort. I think you need to first read Mrs. Clinton's remarks in their entire and proper context before offering your comments, and not be so quick to jump to conclusions simply out of personal spite toward the woman.

While she certainly didn't do so in an artful manner, Mrs. Clinton was clearly pointing out the symbiotic relationship that existed between President Lyndon Johnson and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., with regards to the passage of both the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Suffice to say that while LBJ might not have felt compelled to act without the corresponding political pressure applied by MLK's Civil Rights movement and their liberal allies (nor would he have been able to, absent that movement), it is also patently obvious that neither of those aforementioned measures would have ever passed Congress, had not LBJ used every ounce of political capitsal, muscle and leverage at his disposal to overcome the collective and very determined opposition of southern Dixiecrats and conservative Republicans.

The credit and our eternal gratitude for this stupendous accomplishment are due both men, because neither one would have been successful on his own.

Further, we must not sell short the political sacrifice of liberal Democrats, who finally threw political caution to the wind in order to do the right thing by African-Americans. For by literally ramming both civil rights bills down the South's throat, LBJ and the liberal Democrats forever rent asunder the fragile Democratic Party coalition that had more or less dominated U.S. politics for over 30 years.

This in turn set in motion a chain of political events that eventually led to a horrific and totally unnecessary escalation of the Vietnam War, the subsequent retirement of LBJ in political disgrace, the horrific assassinations of both MLK and Democratic Sen. Robert Kennedy in the spring of 1968, and later that same year, the election of Richard Nixon to the White House. Further long-term implications for the country were:

(a) The mass defection of conservative southern Democrats into the waiting arms of a very receptive and increasingly conservative Republican Party, encouraged by Nixon's so-called "Southern Strategy";

(b) The subsequent political demise of the moderate wing of the GOP, culminating in the defeat of President Gerald Ford in the 1976 election, and the subsequent ascension of former California Gov. Ronald Reagan to the White House four years later; and

(c) The near-complete geographical realignment of both parties, whereby the Republican base would eventually be anchored in the South within the remnants of the old Dixiecrat wing of the Democratic Party, while Democrats would rebuild and solidify its own base in the urban and metropolitan areas of the northeast, midwest and Pacific coast, and amongst racial and ethnic minorities.

Okay, now I'm done and gone. 'Night, everyone.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 12, 2008 at 6:38 AM | PERMALINK

"Imagine that god then gave you the choice to be male or female.

Which would you choose? "
--Adam


You should probably refer to the story of Tiresias, before you decide...


Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on January 12, 2008 at 6:44 AM | PERMALINK

Am I the only one who has trouble seeing Obama as a “black” American?
I don’t get all this buzz about Barack Obama, the “black” candidate. Just exactly when, how and why did color-neutral “BARRY” become BARACK, the black man? When you think about it, he really has no share the American black experience – meaning, a descendent of American slaves (those we view as in need of, or entitled to, “affirmative action” consideration). Racially, he is just as much white as he is black. And, the black blood flowing in his veins is not American slave blood, His African father was a foreign University student from Kenya. Moreover, cultural experience-–upbringing wise, he experienced almost no “black” culture at all. I read that growing up he had no black peers or role models as he was raised in white or Asian surroundings by his white mother and his white grandparents and attended, from grade 5 to 12, an exclusive private school where there were essentially no blacks. His later cultural exposure – college and Harvard Law School is also, essentially, to a culturally “white,” rather than “black,” experience…
To tell you the truth, I find all this emphasis on Barack Obama’s “blackness’’ more than a bit hypocritical and self-serving in the sprint to the nomination He is not the kind of black man that tends to arouse racist reactions in whites nor can blacks take true one-of-their-own pride in him, as he does not share the black-slave heritage that defines blackness in America.

Posted by: Erika S on January 12, 2008 at 6:45 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, if you want to talk CODE WORDS and UNEXCEPTABLE BIAS, sexism and age bias against Hillary is far more pronounced and invidious than any racism against Obama. Moreover it’s so pervasive that it gets by the editorial board of mainstream media. For Instance, Jonathan Alter of NEWSWEEK in the January 14th issue writes in “How Tomorrow Became Yesterday” as follows: “Hillary has been a better-than-expected presidential candidate. She is substantive and strong and, with one notable exception, a better debater so far than Obama. But overall she is only a good candidate, not a great one. “Like most women in politics, she lacks a critical asset. Male candidates can establish a magnetic and often sexual connection to women in the audience. (Just watch Bill Clinton, Obama or Edwards work a rope line.) Women candidates can't use sex appeal (except in France), which leaves them playing the sisterhood card.”

Had Jonathan Alter written about Obama that – “he lacks a critical asset, he is not white,” Jonathan Alter might well have lost his job.

Posted by: Erika S on January 12, 2008 at 7:20 AM | PERMALINK

"Except her remark that LBJ was more important to the Civil Rights movement than Martin Luther King. That proved she as unfit to govern as George W. Bush, and for the same reason."


I interpreted that remark differently. I think that she meant that King didn't do all of the heavy lifting by himself. And she is absolutely right about that. Johnson did a lot of leaning and applied a lot of pressure to get the legislation passed.

Her phrasing was awkward, but I don't believe that she meant any disrespect to MLK.

Posted by: Susan on January 12, 2008 at 7:28 AM | PERMALINK

I'm not trying to apologize for any of those comments (particularly Rove's), but the reaction to them is bit disingenuous unless we admit that a large part of Obama's APPEAL is that he's African-American.

Actually a large part of Obama's APPEAL is that he's appealing.

Posted by: Lucy on January 12, 2008 at 8:52 AM | PERMALINK

This might just be me, but Cuomo's quote is is the first time I can remember hearing the phrase "shuck and jive" without the quote being a discussion on racist language. I feel I would have heard it a lot more if it wasn't. It might be a generational thing, which thus makes it suspect. Considering how much of the mainstream use of the word "jive" seems to stem from that one bit in Airplane!, one has to wonder what exactly Cuomo's thought process was. As for "lynch," when has anyone ever used the word lynch to refer to a bunch of people ganging up on a white person? I hear "crucify" a lot in such a context, but not "lynch." Who the hell says the word "lynch" and not think about lynchings and the KKK?

"Had Jonathan Alter written about Obama that – “he lacks a critical asset, he is not white,” Jonathan Alter might well have lost his job.
Posted by: Erika S on January 12, 2008 at 7:20 AM | PERMALINK"

Well, he is out of a job a lot of the time. IIRC, part of the reason he was nudged out at The Nation was over allegations of sexual harassment against interns. He is a bit of a pompous asshole.

I do find something racist and sexist about the whole "Obama / Clinton wouldn't even be running if they weren't black / a woman." Public speaking goes a long way in politics and Obama is probably our most charismatic Democratic politician since Bill Clinton first came onto the scene (and even then, Bill whiffed on the 1988 DNC address, while Obama hit the 2004 address out of the park).

Posted by: Reality Man on January 12, 2008 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

"To tell you the truth, I find all this emphasis on Barack Obama’s “blackness’’ more than a bit hypocritical and self-serving in the sprint to the nomination He is not the kind of black man that tends to arouse racist reactions in whites nor can blacks take true one-of-their-own pride in him, as he does not share the black-slave heritage that defines blackness in America.
Posted by: Erika S on January 12, 2008 at 6:45 AM | PERMALINK"

He isn't the one making an appeal on his blackness. Some, like Andrew Sullivan, who isn't part of the Obama campaign, have used this as part of explaining why to vote for him (the shock to the world that we have come so far). In fact, Obama has campaigned on overcoming and transcending dichotomy, such as Red State and Blue State.

Posted by: Reality Man on January 12, 2008 at 9:08 AM | PERMALINK

"I am not sure the references are all that subtle and that Hillary's supporters are the ones anxious to have race and gender and their respective advantages and disadvantages be part of the debate. It was Gloria Steinem, seeking to rally support for Hillary, who argued in her NYT op-ed that sexism is a more "restricting force" in American life than racism. It seemed odd that to promote the historic occasion of the first viable female presidential candidate she felt it necessary to denigrate the equally historic occasion of the first viable African-American candidate. Why put the two at odds?
Posted by: Scott on January 11, 2008 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK"

I respect Gloria Steinem a lot, so I was disappointed to see her editorial put this way. To a certain extent, the idea that "that sexism is a more "restricting force" in American life than racism" only looks that way because of racism. If you are a black women is is discriminated against in hiring, the primary reason is probably due to racism and the second reason after that is sexism. Racism is primary and gets compounded by sexism. Add in the fact that half of all minorities are women and you get skewed results on the "racism vs. sexism" question.

After all, white women have numerically been the biggest beneficiaries of affirmative action. Half of all students in med school and law school today are women, yet the percentage of students at such schools of black or Latino descent is much lower than their percentage of the population. Obama is the only black Senator we have and I can only think of two Latino Senators (Salazar and Martinez). Meanwhile, Maine and California both have two white female Senators each. It is rather silly to think that white women are worse of than black men in America. Who is more likely to live a middle class lifestyle? Who is less likely to be sent to prison? Who is more likely to be arrested if they smoke pot, which a lot of people of all races do smoke? Who is more likely to have gone to a decent school?

Posted by: Reality Man on January 12, 2008 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK

Nah, clearly the Clinton camp would never approve of this sort of thing let alone engage in it. Because afterall if that was a case all this screaming about sexism towards Hillary would be a load of hypcritical bs.

Posted by: vrk on January 12, 2008 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe, I don't know. But personally my problem with Obama is that he's too much of a pussy -- not that he's black.

Obama ain't no Jesse. Sure his approach is more likely to get him actually elected than Jesse's, but that's part of what being a pussy is all about. You go farther to the pussified side than you actually need to. Obama could have led the netroots and been a true hero. Instead he triangulated against us.

Posted by: The Fool on January 12, 2008 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

This isn't the Republican Party we are dealing with here. What political consultant in their right mind thinks Hillary should emphasize race? Is somebody inflating race as an issue. Yes. Absolutely. But that person is not Hillary.

Jive Talkin?

Posted by: John Stephen Lewis on January 12, 2008 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

I think it's more white kids who went to Brown who think that watching a lot of Dave Chappelle makes them post-racist. UC Wiggers.
See also "Black People Like Us."

Posted by: Steve Paradis on January 12, 2008 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

I think many of the comments are Freudian slip type things, where things that someone is trying to hide (uncomfortableness with black people if they're white, aware of their own racial hyperawareness) cause them to make a comment they wouldn't have made. I think Cuomo's shuck and jive comment, which shocked me, was that kind of comment, because it certainly served no positive purpose--it's not "code"--it feels blatantly racist, and thus makes him and the HRC campaign look vile. Didtto the lynching comment--that's SO over the top, even when used for anyone of any race, that it has the feel of something that slips out and you kick yourself for. I remember telling a friend who'd had a baby out of wedlock that my grandfather, as a bastard (his own word) was in some ways freer to invent himself. The look of pain on her face, and my own immediate kick-myself feelings, were indescribable. I think some remarks are NOT unconscious, and are coded and calculated, but when the remarks so clearly hurt your own cause I think some understanding is in order. I will say that I think most campaigns (NOT the MSM) have been bending over backwards not to let stuff stuff slip out that was sexist re HRC.

I think O's campaign would be better served by letting the media hash out such language, as would HRC's when it does occur. Both have more to lose by themselves appearing "thin-skinned" than they do to gain, even when the language is genuinely offensive. Both are trying to move beyond "traditional" notions of race and gender, and the best way to do that (as Woods did) is to just move on. It is classy and it diminishes voter anxiety about the largeness of the change their presidency would bring.

Posted by: andreep on January 12, 2008 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

"shuck and jive," "kid," "pickup basketball at Harvard," "Lynch him in a back alley," "It took a president to get it done."

One of these things is not like the others.

Posted by: James on January 12, 2008 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

All of those things are pretty much the same. Shuck and Jive has a long and unfortunate history. We've ALL played pick up basketball, but they only mention it with the black guy. Talking about lynching a black person isn't even kind of subtle. And denigrating the accomplishments of Martin Luther King is a tactics white politicians have used to wing and nudge racist voters for over 3 decades now. All of this is obvious. If some white people don't want to hear it, it's because they've covered their ears and started singing
'la la la la'.

One more thing. By repeatedly telling black people that they are 'misunderstanding' or 'misinterpreting' these remarks, you're essentially saying that black people are too stupid to know what's going on. Black folks speak english, they do not not need you interpreting it for them. What the hell is wrong with some of you that you think they do?

Posted by: Soullite on January 12, 2008 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

Some of you seem to think this only matters for the Primary. Lets get serious here, if the Clinton's don't knock this shit off they will have no chance at winning a general election.

A lot of Liberal men are already going to be staying home in the fall. Do we really want to lose half the black vote too just because the Clinton's are s obsessed with hurting anyone who gets in the way of their own personal glory?

Posted by: Soullite on January 12, 2008 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

Also, the comments of some here have a strong whiff of 'These damned negroes need to calm down already.'. I think some of you may need to come to grips with your own views on race before you can offer absolution to anyone else.

Black America doesn't owe the Clinton's anything. The Clinton's sure as hell owe the black community better than this.

Posted by: Soullite on January 12, 2008 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

I dont see how anyone can think that Hillary was dissing MLK. Its simply not true. Read the comments she made, not what you have heard from others. She was dissing JFK for being the one with soaring rhetoric who was unable to get the Civil Rights Act passed, while LBJ the master legislator did get it done. That was her point. Now it may be an imperfect point in that LBJ was using the assassination of JFK to push people on to accept the Civil Rights Act, but imperfect or not she was not dissing MLK. End debate. MLK is beloved by the Clintons, I have heard them talk about him. Both of them. What conceivable criticism of MLK would help any candidate of the Dems? Its absurd beyond belief.

Posted by: Jammer on January 12, 2008 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, that is mostly all a bunch of crap. There is no "there" there.

As for MLK vs. LBJ - though the quote had nothing to do with comparing them, people ought to realize that the equal rights amendment wasn't the result of black people seizing it. It was because enough of the people in power (whites) were guilted into finally doing what was right by the non-violent sacrifices of the secondary citizens of the time (blacks). It DID take a president to make that happen, and if you think Richard Nixon or Ronald Reagan would have handled it the same way, you are deluding yourself.

There are countries all over the world where MLK and his people would have been brutally supressed, possibly to extinction. Many politicians were happy to claim the movement was communist influenced, and a more Bush-like government might have made the "enemy within" much more front and center argument.

It takes two to tango for civil rights and if the party in power doesn't want to dance, history (and modern news) clearly demonstrates it is very easy to crush a movement as a "national threat".

The truth that so few want to admit is that blacks were finally /granted/ their civil rights because they changed the hearts of enough whites in power. Which is the whole point of non-violent resistance in the first place.

Posted by: Mysticdog on January 12, 2008 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

organized, government-sanctioned savagery against women that in any way resembles slavery - Until modern times, the act of rape was defined by many states as a sexual assault on a woman who was not the attacker's wife. And although it was not, strictly speaking, legal, wife-beating has only come to be considered a serious, prosecutable offense during the last few decades.

Posted by: Too Old For This on January 12, 2008 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

I was disappointed in Gloria Steinem's editiorial because, in my view, there clearly has been a history of both sexism AND racism in this country. To say that one is more prevelant is something that could be argued, but is really besides the point because both the history of sexism and racism is real and this country has fully trancended neither, in my view.

I am leaning towards voting for Barack, in part because he doesn't come from a political family. Like the Clintons did in 1992, he would represent new leadership and I think this country (and this party) continously needs that or else we just get the same old people and the same old feuds, because, while I'm sure Hillary is her own woman, I see in her campaign the return of the Terry McCauliffes and the Mark Penns.

I also believe that Barack Obama is a great example of a new generation of African-American leaders who want to move beyond the politics of the past. This has led to a fight sometimes within the African-American community, most notably when Cory Booker ran against Sharpe James in Newark.

Furthermore, the more I look into Obama, the more I find that his experience does have substance. I also agree with his tone and I find myself in agreement with him on the differences between the two. To me, Clinton tends to try to create a litany of programs that will appeal to groups, while Obama tries to think through the issues.

Regardless, I want more African-American governors/senators as I want more women governors/senators. I want to get beyond feeling that any one individual is the only shot that any woman or any African-American has at the office of the Presidency.

Posted by: PE on January 12, 2008 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

@The Conservative Deflator

I know the story of Tiresias. My point is that men are much more likely to die by violence than women.

No copulating serpents. No irritated male gods.

Posted by: Adam on January 12, 2008 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK
….Except her remark that LBJ was more important to the Civil Rights movement than Martin Luther King. …. Splitting Image at 10:30 PM
From MyDD quoting Josh Marshall. The Politico quote is ... "Dr. King's dream began to be realized when President Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act," Clinton said. "It took a president to get it done." the full quote reads differently.

You can see the video here. The exchange starts at 3:40 in. Fox's Major Garrett reads Clinton a quote from a speech Obama gave earlier in the day.

Here's the Obama quote he reads ...

"False Hopes. Dr King standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial looking out over the magnificent crowd, the reflecting pool, the Washington Monument, sorry guys, false hopes, the dream will die, it can't be done, false hope, we don't need leaders who tell us what we can't do, we need leaders to tell us what we can do and inspire us."

He then asks if she would respond and she says ...

"I would, and I would point to the fact that that Dr. King's dream began to be realized when President Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, when he was able to get through Congress something that President Kennedy was hopeful to do, the President before had not even tried, but it took a president to get it done. That dream became a reality, the power of that dream became a real in peoples lives because we had a president who said we are going to do it, and actually got it accomplished."

"It's an ambiguous statement. But her reference is to different presidents -- Jack Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, one of whom inspired but did relatively little legislatively and Johnson who did a lot legislatively, though he was rather less than inspiring. Quite apart from the merits of Obama and Clinton, it's not a bad point about Kennedy and LBJ." [JM]

The whole quote and nothing but the whole quote; the facts, just stick to the facts and ignore media truncations and spin.
The media is not a friend of truth. It is not a friend of progressivism. It is not a friend of Clinton, and if nominated, it will not be a friend of Obama.

Posted by: Mike on January 12, 2008 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, there's nothing racist about white people simply dismissing the concerns of black people when they have no real cultural understanding of racism. There's nothing racist about PE's suggestion, thinly veiled as it was, that black people should shut up and be grateful for what they have.

White people have used this code for decades. If a Republican had said half of these things, there wouldn't even be a debate. But because some here have decided to protect the nominee at all costs, they have decided to ignore the obvious. When old white southerners talk like this, they only ever mean one thing by it.

Posted by: soullite on January 12, 2008 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, I seem to have mis-attributed a remark to PE that was made by mystic. My apologies. There doesn't really seem to be anything racist in PE's writings.

Posted by: soullite on January 12, 2008 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

Some encouraging developments from this Times article:

"Representative James E. Clyburn, Democrat of South Carolina and the highest-ranking African-American in Congress, said this week that he was disappointed in the comments, a worrisome matter for the Clintons since an endorsement of Mr. Obama by Mr. Clyburn could carry weight in the primary.

"On Friday evening, Mr. Clyburn, who is traveling overseas, issued a statement saying he intended to remain neutral in the early race. Mr. Clyburn, who aides said spoke with Mr. Clinton and Mr. Obama, said he wanted to make sure all candidates had an equal opportunity."

...

"Donna Brazile, a leading Democrat and African-American who had criticized Mr. Clinton, on Friday appeared willing to accept his explanation. “Bill Clinton is a soldier in the fields for people of color,” Ms. Brazile said on CNN. “At this point, we are willing to let this lie.”"

There is reason to hope that cooler heads will prevail in this. Let's hope so. As someone supporting Obama, I don't question where the Clintons' hearts lie with respect to issues of race. Nor do I question their commitment to issues that affect the lives of African-Americans. This can be an opportunity for everybody to ratchet things down a bit. It's what's good for the Party.

Posted by: junebug on January 12, 2008 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

"It took a president to get it done."

A response to this statement might be that LBJ made sure most drafted African Americans served in combat zones in Vietnam.

Posted by: Hostile on January 12, 2008 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

It has also been put to me -- in all apparent seriousness -- that references to Obama's "race" for the nomination, and his campaign "bus", are also dog-whistle racist appeals.

Posted by: RonK, Seattle on January 12, 2008 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

"One more thing. By repeatedly telling black people that they are 'misunderstanding' or 'misinterpreting' these remarks, you're essentially saying that black people are too stupid to know what's going on. Black folks speak english, they do not not need you interpreting it for them. What the hell is wrong with some of you that you think they do?"

Because they ARE interpreting it incorrectly. However, I think that the problem is not comprehension; it seems to me that the media has skewed the coverage and Bill Clinton's soundbite to make it sound like he was referring to Obama's candidacy-not his views on the war in Iraq. They took it out of context, they didn't use the entire clip, and people took it the wrong way. JMO

Posted by: Susan on January 12, 2008 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Are we really having this conversation? Of course the media is skewing these remarks, they have to have something to report for heaven sake! Do you folks realize how hard it is to have a meaningful, on topic, interview?

Posted by: Radix on January 12, 2008 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and some Obama fans go ballistic at use of the word "fan".

Posted by: RonK, Seattle on January 12, 2008 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: mhr on January 12, 2008 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

Hostile:

"A response to this statement might be that LBJ made sure most drafted African Americans served in combat zones in Vietnam."

Didn't he do the same with whites too?

Posted by: Lee on January 12, 2008 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

soullite - As you said, most guys at least, have played pick up hoops so by itself it is not code.
Rove was laying the ground work but that sentence isn't it.

Also, Obama was just featured playing a game of 1 on 1 in SI.
http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/multimedia/photo_gallery/0712/price.obama/content.1.html

Posted by: J J & M on January 12, 2008 at 8:17 PM | PERMALINK

This thread pretty much confirms my worst fears. Clinton's actions have clearly opened the racist floodgates on Obama, and now Obama is probably unelectable in the general election.

However, the reaction around here will be the reaction of most of white America, and that will incense the black community. Hillary has likely sown up the primary only to have lost all hope at winning a general election. You all might might not think this shit is racist, but black America clearly does. Hillary Clinton simply can not win a general election now.

Somehow, I'm sure you'll blame the black guy for stirring up racist trouble. That's what white conservative Democrats always do when someone points out obvious racism.

Posted by: soullite on January 12, 2008 at 8:40 PM | PERMALINK

"There's no equivalent to the Klan when it comes to opponents of feminism. To be sure, awful things are said about -- and sometimes even done to -- women, but I don't think they can be compared to slavery & its legacies."-junebug

Wahabism and Shari'a law fit the bill.

Posted by: turtledove on January 12, 2008 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

Wahabism and Shari'a law fit the bill.

And that might be relevant if the code words we've been talking about were Arabic and the entire context of this thread hadn't been American history.

Posted by: junebug on January 12, 2008 at 11:34 PM | PERMALINK

Soullite: your posts nail it.

Including " Somehow, I'm sure you'll blame the black guy for stirring up racist trouble. That's what white conservative Democrats always do when someone points out obvious racism."

too damn obvious. Hell, 3 of the quotes can't even remotely be described as "coded" or subtle.

Posted by: cracked on January 13, 2008 at 3:24 AM | PERMALINK

Dear Erika S:
"Am I the only one who has trouble seeing Obama as a “black” American?"

Read Obama's book, "Dreams From my Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance," written when he was in law school. That's what the entire book is about. Trust me, he is not glib or shallow about this at all.

Posted by: twc on January 13, 2008 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

Erika S: He is not the kind of black man that tends to arouse racist reactions in whites nor can blacks take true one-of-their-own pride in him, as he does not share the black-slave heritage that defines blackness in America.

I can't speak to the second part of that sentence. But as to the first: I happen to be married to a woman one of whose four grandparents were African-American, and who speaks "standard" English better than I do. Sad to say, where we live now (and it's a "liberal" part of the country) she still qualifies as a n*****r in the eyes of a substantial number of our neighbros. I suspect the same is true of Obama. My wife has the advantage that her middle name doesn't scare people.

Posted by: embarrassed white guy on January 13, 2008 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

I'm also struck by the fact that few pundits or bloggers have pointed out the superficiality of the post-racist attitudes of Obama's young "independents"; via Obama, they get to "strike a blow against racism" at no risk whatsoever to themselves, unlike folks (black and white) who actually moved the civil rights cause along in earlier generations.

Right on, Thomas Garvey. They have no idea how much guts it took for my roommate and me to befriend the only black female freshman in the LSU dorms. That was 1964. We were semi-officially advised against it because she was supposedly a commie dupe. But we perservered even though all three of us were awkward and uncomfortably self-conscious. We've come a long way, baby. So I get pretty PO'ed with some of these narcissitic pious rants about racism especially those that show so little empathy for the stuggles of women.

Posted by: sdunn4 on January 14, 2008 at 12:08 AM | PERMALINK

I'm sure that people support Mr. Obama for all sorts of reasons; among them, that he is black. Likewise, it's just as likely that Ms. Clinton has supporters who like the fact that she is female, Mr. Edwards wins voters who like him because he is southern, and Mr. Huckabee gets voters who like him because he is Baptist.

We should have a problem with all of these or none of them.

So for over 200 years the fact that we have had only white, Christian male presidents is pure coincidence, right?

Posted by: Sharon on January 14, 2008 at 12:31 AM | PERMALINK

I'd say it's Kevin and you readers who are practicing dog-whistle politics

And who are you, Observer, the court censor? We're having a conversation about national issues. Race and gender happen to be two important ones.

Posted by: Sharon on January 14, 2008 at 1:00 AM | PERMALINK

Obama happens to be a gifted human being who has risen fast largely due to his gifts. That is all.

Right, and his supporters do him no favors with their hypersensitivity about race. Probably Senator Clinton's supporters do her no favors with a hypersensitivity about gender either. However, in the case of Clinton she been a conspicuous focus of so much gender bashing for so long, it's almost impossible for it not to be an issue at this point. We'll see what the Republican hate machine does to Senator Obama soon enough, I fear.

Posted by: Sharon on January 14, 2008 at 1:21 AM | PERMALINK

Except her remark that LBJ was more important to the Civil Rights movement than Martin Luther King.

She didn't say that or anything like it. You need to brush up on your listening skills, Splitting Image. Just a suggestion.

Posted by: Sharon on January 14, 2008 at 1:31 AM | PERMALINK

One does not necessarily have to be a dick-swinging misogynist or Confederate flag-tatooed neo-Nazi skinhead to be completely tone-deaf to the inumerable public concerns regarding the still-substantial obstacles faced by women and racial / ethnic minorities in this country.

The biggest barrier to the comprehensive resolution of such issues and concerns is -- and, I would daresay, has always been -- the benign negligence of a relatively contented and thus collectively oblivious majority

Donald, have I mentioned you're my personal hero? Aloha to you.

Posted by: Sharon on January 14, 2008 at 1:45 AM | PERMALINK
…If a Republican had said half of these things, there wouldn't even be a debate…. Rovelite at 12:19 PM
Apparently, you never saw the Willie Horton ad, the Call Me ad on Ford, or the jobs ad against Gant. Republicans embody white racism and they do so gladly because it wins them elections. It was the basis of Nixon's Southern Strategy, it was the reason for Reagan's Philadelphia, MS speech.
….I'm sure you'll blame the black guy for stirring up racist trouble…. Rovelite at 8:40 PM
You are either very confused or just a partisan following the Rove playbook: Attack the strengths. There are none less hostile to the needs and concerns of African-Americans than the Clintons and the Democratic party, which gave up control of the South for the morally right cause in 1964. You are continually trying to distort the record in a typical Rovian denial of both fact and history. Posted by: Mike on January 14, 2008 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

Didn't he do the same with whites too?

Yes, LBJ sent European Americans to the combat zones, too, but not close to the percentage that African Americans were sent. During LBJ's War, if a draftee was African American their chances of seeing combat were almost 100%. Lots of European Americans who were drafted were never sent to combat zones.

Posted by: Hostile on January 14, 2008 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

First off to applesandoranges YOU and Steinem failed to mention that when the Little Rock 9 tried to go the all-white high and whites were screaming racial slurs white FEMALES were screaming just as loud if not louder than the men. And that the feminazi movement as well as MANY so-called feminist groups have done each and every thing humanly possible to keep women especially black of color out. And Jesse was right Shrillary nor Billy boy felt any incessant need to visit 'their' supposed people and as for 'it took a president' well no damn DUH!! But what should LBJ get a medal?! If a child tracks mud all over the floor they're NOT supposed to praised for cleaning a mess they made in the first place. He was just righting a wrong that should have never happened to begin with and it's a little hard to pull off proper legislation WHEN YOU ARE NOT ACTUALLY IN OFFICE! So who does she think she's kidding the problem is Billary is slipping and now the 'true colors' of the supposed 'first black president' and his fake,phony wife are finally coming to surface. Wasn't she the same one preaching all her crap about not needing a man[i.e. her husband] but runs to him the minute the 'impudent Negro' got to be too much for her. So yeah I guess she IS a real feminist after all.

Posted by: cleaninglady on February 13, 2008 at 12:32 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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