Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 14, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

RACE BAITING....I got an email on Saturday from a regular reader asking why I hadn't said more about the controversy over all the racially-charged anti-Obama remarks coming out of the Hillary Clinton campaign. I told him that, actually, I had written more, but I hadn't been happy with what I wrote and ended up deleting a couple of posts on the subject before I published them. Then, since I needed to leave the house around noon on Friday but didn't want to ignore the subject entirely, I gathered up some of the offending quotes (plus one extra one) and opened up the floor to comments.

I didn't have time over the weekend to write more about this, but now I do. So what do I think? For the most part, it strikes me that each of the individual offenses has been blown out of proportion. Steve Benen runs down all of the remarks here, scoring them on a "Willie Horton" scale, and aside from the second and third quotes on his list, where I think he was too harsh, I mostly agree with his assessment.

But as I told my correspondent on Saturday, "it's unquestionably a helluva coincidence that they all popped up at once." And that was before Sunday's odious (and non-disavowed) attack from BET Founder Robert Johnson. Ezra Klein elaborates:

It's hard to imagine this many sophisticated, liberal political operators making this many mistakes, of this type. Not saying it's impossible, merely hard to imagine. And so it's worth wondering if there's not a coordinated strategy among the Clintons to force a conversation over race. Not a conversation that will be harmful to Obama — the Clintons have, after all, had to spend a fair amount of time apologizing, and clarifying — but a conversation that will be harmful to his message. If Obama has to spend a lot of time talking about race, it's hard for him to be the post-racial candidate. If he has to spend a lot of time on divisive topics, it's hard for him to make an appeal for unity. And if he gets thrown off message at this point in the campaign, it will be exceedingly hard for him to blunt Clinton's momentum. And, whether it's a coordinated strategy on the part of the Clintons or not, it's definitely what's happening.

Yeah, it's worth wondering, all right. And the "coincidence" theory is looking pretty ragged. All I can say is: from where I sit this looks both deliberate and revolting. Another few days of comments like the ones we've seen over the past week and my mind will be firmly made up about who to vote for. And it won't be Hillary.

Kevin Drum 2:15 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (215)

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Comments

The stuff coming out of the Clinton campaign recently is Rovian and revolting. If it keeps up, it will push me firmly into the Obama camp.

Posted by: McGuire on January 14, 2008 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum: All I can say is: from where I sit this looks both deliberate and revolting.

Agreed.

Posted by: Econobuzz on January 14, 2008 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

TalkingPointsMemo is all over this sad story. Kevin - why don't you just outsource this one to Josh. I'm impressed with his coverage as I'm personally quite happy to stay out of that briar patch (and hope it just goes away).

Posted by: pgl on January 14, 2008 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

For me, the deal-breaker is Bill Clinton saying we should take Johnson "at his word" when BJ says he wasn't talking about drugs. Johnson is a blowhard, that's pretty obvious, as obvious as the fact that Johnson was talking about drugs.
Bill Clinton pretending otherwise is an insult to everyone's intelligence.

Posted by: Jim on January 14, 2008 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

It was really hard for them to do it, but the Clinton's have made me lose every bit of respect I ever had for them.

Posted by: femdem on January 14, 2008 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Come on now you folks... was there ever even the remotest of possiblities you would have ever voted for Ms. Clinton. You don't really have to go through all these acrobatics (oh my... I'm so outraged)... to make your point.

Posted by: Jim G on January 14, 2008 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Obama is distorting every Clinton question of his ability to be President into a racial remark. I like Obama, but he is not ready for prime time. If Obama can't take the heat from the primaries, how can we expect him to face the Republican slime machine in the fall and survive?

Posted by: kydem on January 14, 2008 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

Which is the illusion and which the reality? I'm stumped.

Posted by: Bob M on January 14, 2008 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

Don't worry, I'm sure the Clintons will clear all this up (after the damage is done).

Posted by: puhe on January 14, 2008 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Another few days of comments like the ones we've seen over the past week and my mind will be firmly made up about who to vote for. And it won't be Hillary.

Kevin, I have to admit I am (pleasantly!) surprised at what you said. But I think one thing we should remember is the MLK incident by Hillary and the "fairy tale" attack by Bill was not the first racially charged remarks they made. Bill was making coded racially charged remarks back in 1992 when he attacked Sister Souljah. So what you have here is a pattern of racial insensitivity which has lasted for well over 16 years. It's great the Clintons are finally being called on it after all this time, but I am disappointed it took so long for everyone to recognize the Clintons for what they are.

Posted by: Al on January 14, 2008 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

what's especially sickening is that Johnson was making an analogy between what the Clintons were doing to promote Civil Rights when they were presumably in their 20s and 30s, while alluding to Obama's activities AS A TEENAGER! were Bill and Hill really active civil rights activists as teenagers? don't think so.

Posted by: scottruplin on January 14, 2008 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

I think that it's a cynical strategy to try to force Obama to start sounding more like Jackson and Sharpton and thereby turn off some of the moderate white voters he's attracting. They want Obama to get pissed off and respond, and then he's the angry black man attacking white racism, instead of the guy moderate whites can vote for to show that we've moved beyond race.

Oh, and the BET guy's attack goes along with Mark Penn's, it's very tricky. In Obama's book he talks about drug use as a teen, but by asking what he was up to as a youth, the implication is to suggest but not say that he was a drug dealer (something that already seems to be injected into the whispering campaign).

Remember, George Bush always maintained deniability during the "McCain had an illegitimate black child" campaign.

I'd hoped Hillary Clinton was better than this. She does have the power to cut it off; she can send word out to her leading supporters and her staff that this kind of tactic is absolutely off-limits.

I have some reservations about Obama and his whole post-partisan kumbaya thing. But the Clintons keep reminding me of why I would want them even less.

Posted by: Joe Buck on January 14, 2008 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

When the race started, I was leaning toward Obama, but would have been thrilled with any of the candidates. I'm a woman and would have loved to have seen that barrier fall. But not now that I've seen that HRC is as scheming as any republican. Yes, whoever gets the nomination will face the republican slime machine, but I want *MY* party to be better than that. Under the Clintons, it won't be.

Posted by: femdem on January 14, 2008 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Come on now you folks... was there ever even the remotest of possiblities you would have ever voted for Ms. Clinton.

Yup, and I still will if she gets the Democratic nomination.

I just hope she doesn't.

Posted by: Jim on January 14, 2008 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

Clinton, Obama and Edwards badly need an off-the-record meeting to agree on what is (and isn't) out of bounds. Why are we Democrats eating ourselves alive here? No one's ass remains unbitten if this keeps up. No one looks good. It's time for a little more solidarity and a little less ego.

Ha ha. Fat chance. God, I wish Dems weren't such a shoo-in.

Because Republicans don't have a strong single candidate we (and everybody else) assume we're gonna win in November. We should go for a strong win, not limp to the finish in tatters having to spend all our time in office repairing our own party.

Posted by: Tilli (Mojave Desert) on January 14, 2008 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

As Joe Buck notes, HRC could rein in her supporters if she wanted to. Just as she could have taken a stand against efforts to shut down the special Las Vegas Strip caucuses than ("all up to the courts" as far as she's concerned, she says on MTP). Honestly, how can the latter be tolerable after she denounced the exclusionary effects of caucuses in Iowa AND after the whole caucus plan had been agreed to a long time ago? Because nothing matters to the Clintons other than power.

It is not merely GOP talking points that the Clintons will do and say anything to win. The GOP emphasize this aspect of the Clintons because it RESONATES with voters, and it resonates for GOOD REASON.

Posted by: Fran on January 14, 2008 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

About time you "found your voice."

And you haven't even mentioned the shameless voter suppression in Nevada.

Posted by: rotflmLIBERALao on January 14, 2008 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

Jim:

The big worry though is that many black people might stay at home in November if she is the nominee which could hand OH, FL, and PA to the GOP. It seems to me that the Clintons are trying to win the battle without regard to whether they lose the war. At this point, I have a hard time believing Obama would sign up for VP or even help the Clinton campaign if she is the nominee -- and at the rate she is going, especially if McCain or the Huckster is the GOP nominee, it is going to be harder to get black voters riled up enough to vote against the GOP, even if they do not like Hillary so much.

Posted by: jfm3tx@yahoo.com on January 14, 2008 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

If these allegations are true, that would be totally nefarious. But this all strikes me as the kind of devious Dr. Evilesque stuff that only goes on in movies or Karl Rove's brain.

And why would she make her campaign look bad to voters that are so important to her in the process?

Posted by: Caitlin on January 14, 2008 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

Just to balance and slightly correct you, objections to statements made by Clinton campaign have come all at once.
For you to correctly decide that these remarks have only begun some search of a similar, earlier period would have to be carefully scanned.
For instance the Cuomo remark made on an Albany NY talk show, seems to be about the campaign in general. But he uses a black street term which usage has seen as especially targeting Obama.
So one question I would ask is the usage of steet terms part of Cuomo's usual style? Or an exceptional deviation. In the first case, if Cuomo often colored his language it would be hard to prove that this instance of such usage was especially targetting Obama. Or is it a one-off usage which would suggest targetting.
Second why would he use a local Albany NY radio station program as a launching pad for such a slur??


Question: who benefit more from having these "racist" remarks found? Obama or Clinton

Finally why is Obama's earlier drug use not fit to be discussed? Bill's was and the blogosphere certainly tried to get Bush's drug use aired.
Why then give Obama a free ride? You can be sure the GOP won't hold back. So I think it needs be aired during the primaries

Posted by: aeolius on January 14, 2008 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Your analysis fails to make one absolutely key point: in a number of these supposed racial remark it is clearly the Obama campaign that is seizing on them as racial, and trying to play up that aspect.

Certainly the "fairy tale" is one remark whose racial content was a complete and deliberate fabrication. Likewise, Hillary's remarks about MLK and LBJ can hardly be construed as racial, by any sensible reckoning, however poorly they came across (If you don't believe me, look at the original quote from Hillary. Syntactically and in every other way it was a total mess. How could such a garbled mass of verbiage possibly be a carefully, cleverly designed racial appeal?)

I won't pretend to know if the remaining remarks that may have racial content could possibly be enough to constitute a "pattern", or whether Hillary's campaign is seeking to turn the contest racial in nature.

But what's obvious to me is that Obama's campaign is absolutely and deliberately playing this game too, and not trying to extinguish the racially divisive talk. How else explain its clear decision to make a major something out of what is clearly nothing, as they have done in the cases I mentioned?

Why would they do so, at exactly this time? Because, at exactly at this time, the critical SC primary impends.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 14, 2008 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

I know that we're all supposed to look down our noses at the Clinton camp's behavior. But, would anyone complain if the Clinton campaign used similar tactics against a GOP candidate? Perhaps I'm too cycnical or just uneducated, but I don't recall a "golden age" of political discourse in American politics. At the end of the day it may be better to see how Obama responds to this stuff now, as it is sure to show up in the general election.

Posted by: AK Liberal on January 14, 2008 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

You guys kill me The media jingles the shiny keys and you all roll over like stupid puppies.This is all just what the r's want you to do.Do you have to show them how well you pee on the floor like a scared little pup.Wake up A Dem will be President for the next 16 years so just sit boy sit.Morons all of you.

Posted by: john john on January 14, 2008 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

A firing squad of two facing each other.

Way to go Dems. Victory! Victory! Just like in 2004.

Posted by: gregor on January 14, 2008 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Two comments. One, my personal reaction and two, a prediction/observation.

Personally, I find this kind of politics soul-crushing. I am a lifelong Dem (I'm 36) precisely because it has been the party championing values of equality. The willingness to betray these principles in a brass-knuckles fight - to me - is evidence about what kind of leadership we should expect in a Clinton administration. The higher principle is their power, then we can worry about ethical principles if they are convenient. The land is full of restlessness and anger at this type of politics, because it leads to the complete failure of real problems getting solved. Thus, I predict the massive turnout of new voters and young voters (who massively break for Obama over Clinton) will simply tune out any general election with Hillary as the nominee. I know I will never vote for her, and I am a hardcore mainstream Democrat. I know lots of others like me whose body language literally slumps when they think of another term of Clinton food fighting.

Now, my observation/prediction. Edwards is still in these debates, and this race stuff is going to be huge tomorrow night. I have a feeling Edwards is going to be the attack dog (and fortunately he will have the benefit of genuine righteousness on his side), and Obama will not take the bait, instead focusing on bread and butter issues. Everybody will be watching for Obama to show a sign of playing the race card, and he is too smart for that. Edwards will be the attack dog on this.

Posted by: James on January 14, 2008 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

All three candidates are in it to win. This is for every single marble -- whoever wins will get *most* of the people on the other side getting behind them and will most probably be the next President of the United States. It's distasteful to see some of this, but it's not surprising or unexpected -- and we're going to see it all in spades when the general election comes around. The only reason my candidate -- Edwards -- is not playing rough right now is that he's so far behind.

But this is part of the normal rise and fall. There was no way Obama is going to keep that halo on for long, the same as there was no way Clinton was going to keep the "inevitable" crown on for long. I agree that there is a lot of re-evaluating going on.

This process may be going on up to the convention -- which is not necessarily a bad thing.

I'm hoping, for my own candidate, that as people re-evaluate Obama, or move away from Clinton for this tactic, that Edwards will get another look as the "real democrat" or the "solid candidate"

Or I can dream of a brokered convention and a draft Gore movement on the fifth ballot......

Posted by: zmulls on January 14, 2008 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Let's see, two centrist Democrats, Josh Marshall and Kevin Drum, both of whom favored the invasion of Iraq (that's pretty centrist) are pushing this story which favors Obama, a centrist Democrat who repeats RNC talking points and talks about bipartisanship, and who hails from the Lieberman-Daschle wing of the Democratic party.

Why am I not surprised?

Posted by: Riesz Fischer on January 14, 2008 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Obama, a centrist Democrat who repeats RNC talking points and talks about bipartisanship, and who hails from the Lieberman-Daschle wing of the Democratic party.

Yeah, and after those lovely Clintons worked so hard to keep Lieberman in the Senate, too.

Posted by: Troothskwad on January 14, 2008 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Remember the Clintons lived in the South a long time and have to know how this comes across. I actually think they wanted to drown out the endorsememnts. Unfortunately for them, the black vote is lost. Johnson only speaks for a tiny percentage of blacks who have money. He was considered a sell-out a long time ago.

Posted by: Tennessee on January 14, 2008 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

This is the sort of race-baiting one would expect from Tom Delay, not a progressive candidate. Civil Rights is an almost sacred liberal achievement, and for the Clinton camp to trash it this way, to use race as a political football -

Well, I am no longer undecided. Thanks, Hillary for making the choice clear!

Posted by: mint_tea on January 14, 2008 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

There are two possibilities --

(a) the otherwise formidable Clintons have a blind spot for race as an issue, and do not realize the actual effect this kind of effort is going to have on Hillary and Obama's relative likeability in the campaign, because they simply cannot believe anyone will really care about some cool white people beating hell out of an uppity blackfella,

OR,

(b) somehow or other, Obama's campaign is doing all this, figuring if Hillary can get a 10 point bounce out of people being outraged at the media being mean to her for her femininity, Obama can get the same kind of bounce from the media being mean to him over his race.

I can't make (b) work; unless Obama has Simon Bar Sinister working for him behind the scenes, there's just no way he could put something like this together. On the other hand, Bill and Hillary are smart, but they're only human. It's possible they really think this is a smart move, because deep down, they cannot believe undecided or independent voters are capable of having as much sympathy for Obama as they clearly have shown for Hillary.

Kinda on this subject, here's a question I'd like to see every candidate have to answer:

Is there any other candidate for President from your party that you would not be comfortable with as your Vice President? If so, who and why? And, is there any other candidate for President from your office whom you would not be comfortable serving as Vice President under? If so, again, who and why?

As I say, I'd like to see ALL of them have to answer that question, but I'd be especially fascinated with Hillary and Obama's responses.

Posted by: Doc Nebula on January 14, 2008 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

James typed his comment as I was typing mine....

Are you predicting Edwards will be the attack dog against Clinton on Obama's side? That's plausible, it seemed after Iowa that Edwards' strategy was to try to take Clinton down instead of Obama. That puzzled me, because I thought the obvious play was to try to take Obama down so he could be the anti-Clinton candidate.

FWIW, I don't think Edwards touches the race issue at all -- he benefits if Obama and Clinton really go after each other over it. But he's going to be sensitive that he's the "rich white guy" in the race, and a lot of people currently have their hopes on electing the "first woman" or "first black" President. He wants to win more support but has to be careful about attacking peoples' dreams.

Posted by: zmulls on January 14, 2008 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

Won't vote for Clinton, huh? Yeah, wouldn't want a savvy political operator in the White House. You know, someone canny enough to derail an opponent, someone willing to throw sand in the gears (or eyes) when it means achieving something. Nah, wouldn't want such a person going up against The Right in Congress, would we? If Obama is off message, distracted and falling victim to these tactics what's he going to do as President? Right about now LBJ would be employing so much jujitsu Clinton or Obama either one would be in a painful daze. Politics has been a vicious knife fight for thousands of years. Ignore any politician claiming they'll conduct it otherwise.

Posted by: steve duncan on January 14, 2008 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

PS - It's not just Hillary's camp. Obama was schooled in Chicago politics. He knows how to fight dirty, too.

Posted by: Tilli (Mojave Desert) on January 14, 2008 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Anybody here old enough to remember Karl Rove's number one tactic, go after your opponent's strength?

Anybody want to venture a guess what one of the Clintons' greatests strengths is in this race?

Give up? It's the strong support of African-American voters.

Think about this, please.

Posted by: gyrfalcon on January 14, 2008 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

::doubletake while scanning through comment thread::

Did Kevin Drum and Josh Marshall really support the invasion of Iraq? SERIOUSLY?

Posted by: Doc Nebula on January 14, 2008 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

gyrfalcon: HRC's greatest strength is the strong support of AA voters?

I need some of what you're smoking!

Posted by: GOD on January 14, 2008 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

I have 5 African American women on my staff -- ranging in age from 26 to 55. Admittedly, a small unrepresentative sample. They ALL believe this is race baiting and are very angry about it.

Bill and Hillary are playing a very risky game here -- risky for all dems. What happens in an election against McCain or Romney if African Americans just stay home?

For Bill Clinton to dismiss the most exciting and charismatic African American leader in years as "a fairy tale" is totally unacceptable to African Americans. For Hillary to lecture him on the relative importance of MLK compared to LBJ is also totally unacceptable. To have her suurogates continue the drug-use attack is reprehensible.

Once again, a dem heavyweight is going to have to call a halt to this. Maybe Kennedy. Maybe Gore.
Enough is enough.

Posted by: Econobuzz on January 14, 2008 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Aerolius and Frankly0. The Obama camp all of a sudden started interpreting racist comments only a day after New Hampshire.

To call the Clintons racist is inane. To think that they would stoop to race-baiting even worse.

I think the Obama camp is trying to get some sympathy vote. IT might work it might not. The press is certainly feeding this fire.

Posted by: optical weenie on January 14, 2008 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

The Obama campaign did in fact prepare a detailed memo under the name of Amaya Smith, South Carolina press secretary for Obama that, according to HuffPo''s Sam Stein:

"... provides an indication that, in private, the Obama campaign is seeking to capitalize on the view - and push the narrative - that the Clintons are using race-related issues for political leverage. In public, the Obama campaign has denied that they are trying to propagate such a perception, noting that the document never was sent to the press." (Emphasis mine.)

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 14, 2008 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Politics ain't beanbag.

Here's the full quote from Bill Clinton ...
First, it is factually not true that everybody that supported that resolution supported Bush attacking Iraq before the U.N. inspectors withdrew. Chuck Hagel was one of the co-authors of that resolution, the only Republican Senator that always opposed the war, every day, from the get-go.
He authored the resolution to say that Bush could go to war only if they didn't cooperate with the inspectors and he was assured personally by Condi Rice, as many of the other Senators were. So, first, the case is wrong that way.
Second, it is wrong that Senator Obama got to go through 15 debates trumpeting his superior judgment and how he had been against the war in every year, enumerating the years and never got asked one time, not once, "Well, how could you say that when you said in 2004 you didn't know how you would have voted on the resolution? You said in 2004 there was no difference between you and George Bush on the war and you took that speech you're now running on off your Web site in 2004 and there's no difference in your voting record and Hillary's ever since."
Give me a break.
(APPLAUSE)
This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen.

video here

It's hard to find any Clinton comment that has not been taken out of context or distorted or even fabricated

It's a shame that Obama wrote as he did, but he did and to ignore this fodder for the Republican smear&fear machine is to go into denial. They need to counter with talk about youthful indiscretions instead of attacking everyone who mentions Obama's statement.

@gyrfalcon at 3:06 PM. It's certainly from the Rove play book.

Posted by: Mike on January 14, 2008 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

I've never been a big Hillary Clinton supporter, but I'll vote for her if she's the nominee. I like some things about Barack Obama, but there are other things I don't care for.

But even with this ambivalence, I'm disgusted by what's going on this week. It’s hard for me to tell if this is all deliberate on the Clinton campaign’s side or if it’s just coincidence, but at any rate, they ought to knock it off. Off all the quotes that Steve Benen scored, the one that strikes me as most offensive is Clinton’s "It took a president to get it done." Martin Luther King wasn't a member of Congress or a resident of the White House. He can't take direct credit for the Great Society legislation -- duh. Nonetheless, none of that would have happened without the pressure of the Civil Rights movement and it was stupid to suggest that MLK was a dreamer, but not a doer, especially given that neither Kennedy nor Johnson has an unblemished record on this issue.

I don’t think either of the Clintons are racist, but I think Bill has shown (as with Sister Souljah), he’ll do what it takes to get the job done. As for Hillary, she has a history of her own (baking cookies & having teas anyone?). But she has always been politically tone deaf; she's one of those people who believes she should be judged by what she meant to say and not by the actual words that came out of her mouth.

Whatever is going on, I wish it would stop. Now.

Posted by: The Pop View on January 14, 2008 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

I think it is all part of the game. Maybe Obama sees an opportunity to paint himself as the victim and MSM loves it.

When Clinton visited her Alma Mata and said she was influenced there it was made out as playing the gender question. If a man talks about his military experience shaping or influencing him like McCain does is he playing up the fact he is a male?

MLK needed men in power to bring civil rights to the people. What on earth is wrong with that?

Should Obama get the nomination the Republicans will be all over him with Willi Horton caliber. They have used a southern strategy before and could do it again.

Even now, after all the years Hillary is being judged with all the hate the Republicans poured over the Clintons. Only her likability factor comes up not McCain's or any others. I don't like McCain, I don't trust him.

Posted by: Renate on January 14, 2008 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

he was assured personally by Condi Rice

Ha! Well then end of story.

Posted by: Lucy on January 14, 2008 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

I agree, Tilli. This is all so fucking ridicules I'm ashamed to even be commenting on this thread. And here I thought it was only the Retardicans that were childish...

Posted by: elmo on January 14, 2008 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

The Clintons could say, "This is all just silly nonsense." Instead, everything is the equivalent of "We don't think Barack Obama is still beating his wife." And the original quotes are all coming from their side.

Posted by: lampwick on January 14, 2008 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

Between this and Hillary's attempt to disenfranchise voters in Nevada, I am beginning to wonder if I will vote for her in the General Election. It might be worth it to withstand another Republican administration to finally get it across to the Democratic Establishment that we hate Republican-Lite and corrupt politicians like Hillary and we would sooner vote to punish than vote for someone as corrupt as she is.

If she doesn't stop NOW, I will start thinking Long-Term and vote against her in the General until the New Democrats finally get the message.

Posted by: BombIranForChrist on January 14, 2008 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Clinton and Obama will end up refocusing the contest as one between race and gender and they realistically will not have much choice. I've leaned more towards Obama and Clinton as an Edwards supporter over the last couple of weeks, but if Clinton gets the nomination, I think a significant number of Obama supporters may stay home for the general and if Obama gets the nomination a significant number of Hillary supporters may do the same.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on January 14, 2008 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

Seems like yesterday Bill was the First Black President.Now sit boy sit.You people wouldn't know race baiting if it bit you in the arse.

Posted by: john john on January 14, 2008 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

jfm3tx has a "hard time believing Obama would ... help Clinton if she is the nominee". I hope that fear is unfounded, for my first criterion in finally deciding which Democrat to vote for in the Feb 5th primary here in MA is simple: I will not vote for any candidate who does not promise to endorse, support, and help the Democratic nominee in November.

The only thing at stake is my vote in the primary. Maybe it's too small a stake for either Clinton or Obama to care about. But thanks to IA and NH, my vote still counts a tiny bit.

My vote in the general is not at stake. I will vote for the Democrat. But to the extent that one of the Democrats needs my vote to GET to the general, she or he will unequivocally endorse THE Democratic nominee, NOW.

-- TP
-- TP

Posted by: Tony P. on January 14, 2008 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin stands for a lot of Democrats who appreciate Hillary as a fellow wonk. Now that she's steering her campaign into the waters of identity politics and emotional expressivity, or whatever it was the cry meant, I expect to see some of her fans begin to jump ship.

Posted by: lampwick on January 14, 2008 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

::doubletake while scanning through comment thread::

Did Kevin Drum and Josh Marshall really support the invasion of Iraq? SERIOUSLY?
Posted by: Doc Nebula

Yes.

(This has been another edition of "Simple Answers to Simple Questions")

Posted by: Riesz Fischer on January 14, 2008 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

Now the thread turns too who will stay home and who won't. Take note Only Republican Patriots stay home if they don't have a horse in the race.It don't matter if it is Obama or Clinton the Dems will get out and vote,Just stop with the Bullsh#t that people will stay home NOT TRUE....

Posted by: john john on January 14, 2008 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

Off all the quotes that Steve Benen scored, the one that strikes me as most offensive is Clinton’s "It took a president to get it done."

Maybe Hillary botched how she put her point. Maybe it was somehow inherently offensive even unbotched, because there was no way such a point could give MLK proper credit however expressed.

But to say it was intended as being racially divisive is a complete fabrication out of nothing.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 14, 2008 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

If anyone repeats "Obama's not ready for prime time" again, I'm going to first vomit and then repeatedly slam my refridgerator door against my head until my eyes explode. Regardless how you feel about these candidates, the "prime time" arguement has been resoundly defeated.

Re: Post-partisanship is dumb, niave

Obama is a politician. This is his spiel. Anyone who suggests this spiel proves he is too "softy" to take on the Right Wingers in Washington needs to get hooked up to the Politics 101 Juvenation Machine. It is Obama's rhetoric that makes him a strong politician. He's the new Teflon because when people throw mud, he'll accuse them of being partisan hacks who want to lie and mame instead of work together to forge real change. It may be a spiel but his rise has PROVEN that it works.

Hillary's fall is proving that her Dark Side of the Force Strategy (gotta fight like Repugs to beat Repugs) is just another spiel and doesn't mean her kung fu is any stronger. Maybe she'll get things done, but make no mistake, the "most effective" presidents in recent memory have been from the Teflon mold and not the gunslinger mold. If anything, this suggests that Hillary's experience, "I know how the Repugs fight and I'll meet them at OK Corral" strategy is the least effective to getting things done in 09.

But either way, voting for or against that spiel is an endorsement of tactics, not "True Belief" since all candidates say what they need to win. Sorry if that's cynical but that's the way things go in politics.

I'll say this another way: Obama ain't no Jimmy Carter or King George Bush I. He ain't a wimp. You might not like his tactics, but he ain't gonna fold 'em when the Repugs come a runnin. Neither will Hillary. So maybe now we can retire the tired claim that Obama ain't strong enough to tackle the Repug machine. Because I'd say there is zero credibility to that claim.

Posted by: Nobcentral on January 14, 2008 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

Something I read a few weeks ago from David Corn seems relevant in light of all this. He talked about how the Clinton camp really "despised" Obama:

"When talking to Clintonites in recent days, I've noticed that they've come to despise Obama. I suppose that may be natural in the final weeks of a competitive campaign when much is at stake. But these people don't need any prompting in private conversations to decry Obama as a dishonest poser. They're not spinning for strategic purposes. They truly believe it. And other Democrats in Washington report encountering the same when speaking with Clinton campaign people. "They really, really hate Obama," one Democratic operative unaffiliated with any campaign, tells me. "They can't stand him. They talk about him as if he's worse than Bush." What do they hate about him? After all, there aren't a lot of deep policy differences between the two, and he hasn't gone for the jugular during the campaign. "It's his presumptuousness," this operative says. "That he thinks he can deny her the nomination. Who is he to try to do that?" You mean, he's, uh, uppity? "Yes." A senior House Democratic aide notes, "The Clinton people are going nuts in how much they hate him. But the problem is their narrative has gone beyond the plausible."

===

I'm thinking this attitude has spilled outside the sealed off campaign rooms and into the minds of their supporters.

Posted by: KathyF on January 14, 2008 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

...Just stop with the Bullsh#t that people will stay home NOT TRUE....

john john, That's up to Hillary and Obama. If they want to turn this thing real UGLY, I just don't see how you can rule that out.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on January 14, 2008 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

Politics old school: attack you opponent for doing what you are doing. You'll notice it's HRC who continually raises the issue. And many have taken the bait -- see frankly0's comments.

Team Clinton would love, love, love it if Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson got involved.

Anyway, I'm sure all will be forgiven by convention time.

Posted by: Mr Nice Guy on January 14, 2008 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

KathyF

If you walk around comment threads on several blogs, you'll hear plenty of Obama supporters saying equally awful hate-filled things about Clinton.

And you'll hear supporters of both candidates excoriating Edwards for staying in the race and "spoiling" things for "their" candidate.

Whoever comes out ahead in this is going to have to extend the VP slot of (one of the) others. I don't think Edwards or Clinton would take it frankly (Edwards has been there already, and Clinton would probably rather be a major power in the Senate); but Obama would almost have to be the VP for Clinton or Edwards.

The Johnson people managed to swallow their dislike of the Kennedy people, and vice versa. At least enough to get them elected....

Posted by: zmulls on January 14, 2008 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

::doubletake while scanning through comment thread::

Did Kevin Drum and Josh Marshall really support the invasion of Iraq? SERIOUSLY?
Posted by: Doc Nebula

I thought Drum equivocated before deciding that no, he could not support the invasion.

Not sure about Marshall.

Posted by: Lucy on January 14, 2008 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

USA Today/Gallup poll out today:

Clinton 45%
Obama 33%
Edwards 13%

Yeah, Hillary!!

Posted by: emmarose on January 14, 2008 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

Zmulls: I'm not talking about Clinton supporters on comment threads. Who the hell cares what they think? Certainly not David Corn, who I was quoting. He talked to Clinton insiders. Read the whole thing.

Posted by: KathyF on January 14, 2008 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

Has anyone actually read the entire Clinton "fairy tale" quote? Based on some of the comments I would think not.

Posted by: Les Ismore on January 14, 2008 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

Research 2000 Poll for Nevada, today:

Obama 32%
Hillary 30%
Edwards 27%

Yeah Obama!!

(And yeah, I'm mocking you.)

Posted by: Nobcentral on January 14, 2008 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

KathyF

I was only reacting to your last comment, that you felt the attitude has spilled over.

I have no doubt that Clinton insiders, at least some of them, are seething and resentful of Obama. I'd bet there were some Obama insiders who are pretty contemptuous of Clinton.

When the dust settles on this thing, it will be up to the two of them (three, counting Edwards) to start bringing everyone back together...and it will be in their best interests to do so. If Clinton wins, I suspect Obama will be her VP; if Obama wins, he's going to need Clinton's help in the Senate. And if Edwards wins (which is not totally impossible), he's going to need both of them.

Me...I'd like to see Hillary Clinton as the first female Majority Leader in the Senate...

Posted by: zmulls on January 14, 2008 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

You'll notice it's HRC who continually raises the issue. And many have taken the bait -- see frankly0's comments.

It would be nice if just once you people managed actually to confront the supposedly racial comments I pulled out -- and which the Obama campaign has declared is part of the "pattern" -- and try to explain to us all how any reasonable person could see them as racially divisive.

You could start with the notorious "fairy tale" remark.

And if you can't come up with any account whereby its racially divisive, how about coming up with an explanation of why the Obama campaign has pretended they are divisive which is not itself representative of a purely cynical kind of racially divisive politics itself?

Posted by: frankly0 on January 14, 2008 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary Clinton was simply stating the obvious in her remarks about MLK and LBJ. She did not diminish Martin Luther King's achievements in any way. No one denies that had there been no civil rights movement, in which Dr.King played a leading role, there would have been no civil rights legislation. But at the same time, it's ridiculous to deny Lyndon Johnson his share of the credit for civil rights. He was the one who rammed the legislation through Congress. No one forced him to do this--not MLK nor anyone else.

In fact, Johnson had a lot to lose politically from supporting civil rights. The night the 1964 act was passed, someone found him lying on his bed depressed. When they asked why, Johnson said "Because I think we just delivered the South to the Republican party for a long time to come." He was right, of course.

The fact that the civil rights movement succeeded does not mean that its success was inevitable. Without politicians like LBJ who were willing to support the legislation, Dr. King's movement would have failed. Neither activists like MLK nor politicians like LBJ were sufficient to end segregation--each group required the other to accomplish this. Both, therefore, deserve the credit. The fact that many blacks want to believe that white people played no role in ending slavery and segregation doesn't make it true. It's infuriating to see history rewritten like this.

Posted by: Lee on January 14, 2008 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

USA Today/Gallup Poll New Hampshire January 6, 2008

Obama 41%
Clinton 28%
Edwards 19%

Ahem.

Posted by: Tony on January 14, 2008 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

"99 Problems and a Bitch Ain't One" is kind of an odd party song for Mr. Change and Hope to have been playing at his Iowa victory party, though, isn't it?

So which bigotry is worse? The homophobia that was never apologized for from the Obama campaign (Donnie McClurkin "god saved me from my gay demons"), the misogyny? Or the racism?

So far I'd say racial bigotry is the big no-no, with misogyny and homophobia trailing way behind.

Posted by: XJT on January 14, 2008 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK


While it is true that Bill's statement re- the fairy tale quote has been misused by BO's camp and other people, it is also true that when the defenders use the quote in full, the forget to add the question to which Bill was responding.

He was asked why Penn was wrong on the polls and he went on a tirade against BO endiing up with the fairy tale line. There were also other things he said. Why that response to a questions about a pollster?

It's quite interesting that a former president is doing what Bill is doing right now. I think there is a merit to the argument that they really hate BO maybe cos he is spoiling what they consider to be HRC's rightful nomination. In any case, this is one of the arguments against a wife/husband run for the presidency, cos it turns FPOTUS to a divisive figure within the party. It's a shame cos FPOTUS is supposed to be above the fray.

Posted by: GOD on January 14, 2008 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

It was Obama's incredibly smarmy comment envisioning MLK saying "The dream will die. It can't be done," deliberately misconstruing what Clinton had been saying about false hopes--and in the process comparing himself to MLK--that injected race into the exchange.

Clinton was then asked to respond to Obama's comment, and she did so *by correcting his misconstruction*: MLK's dream wasn't a false hope, because there would be a president in office who could make it reality.

That the president at the time happened to be white and the dreamer black is completely irrelevant to her point, as is the fact that one candidate for president now is white and the other black.

Her initial remarks about false hopes may have been dumb, but they weren't about race. Obama brought race into it, not Hillary.

Posted by: Swift Loris on January 14, 2008 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

Folks talk about how the economy and healthcare will trump the Iraq debacle during the 2008 Presidential "Race." I predict race will become the dominant theme.

America is a diverse country. Yet the white folks in power still haven't figured out why the disadvantaged resent the status quo.

In a way, fanning the racial divide, just might actually help the Repugnacans.

There. I said it. The election will become about
us versus 'them folk.

'them folk will then be construed as being RACIST.

The screaming has just begun.

Economy? Healthcare? Iraq?

Nope.... RACISM (and thinly veiled Classism) will define this campaign year.

It's going to get ugly.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on January 14, 2008 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

Attacking Sen Clinton because of her sex rallies support to her. Attacking Sen. Obama because of his race rallies support to him.

I hope no one attacks the hedgefund consultant Edwards because his Southern accent.

Posted by: Brojo on January 14, 2008 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

XJT, you're a moron for using that crappy 99 problems reference. People like you are part of the problem spewing unfoounded nonsense like that.

In any case, you don't want to go there. You do know that Timbaland organized fund raisers for Hillary. I bet you know some of the lyrics of his songs.

Posted by: GOD on January 14, 2008 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

deliberately misconstruing what Clinton had been saying about false hopes

How did he "miscontrue", much less deliberately so, what she said? She said it. And the fact that it was off the cuff is just that much more revealing about her approach to politics, as is her vote for the AUMF, her sponsorship of a "flag-protection amendment", her vote for Kyl-Lieberman, her employment of Mark Penn, her endorsements by Liebercrats like Bob Kerrey and Evan Bayh, et cetera.

Posted by: Jim on January 14, 2008 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

All I can say is: from where I sit this looks both deliberate and revolting. Another few days of comments like the ones we've seen over the past week and my mind will be firmly made up about who to vote for. And it won't be Hillary.

Absolutely right. And revolting is right. HRC. Her husband. Their surrogates. Revolting.

A couple of comments--pretty obvious, but since you asked, Kevin:

1. The scattershot nature of the remarks, uttered by a range of named spokesmen (I think they were all men: Johnson and Cuomo, for example) and unnamed advisers, makes it difficult to prove this is a deliberate Clinton strategy. But isn't that how the politics of destruction is designed--namely, insinuation, deniability, backtracking, palaver, surrogates, etc.? Do they think we're stupid? (Don't answer that. No, do.)

2. As for the Obama memo. I've read what purports to be the email, I think from or to O's SC campaign chairwoman. It's a simple recitation of the jibes, important to have a record going forward, as they say. My sense is that Obama would not appear thin-skinned to react forcefully and that he knows exactly what he'll say but may be holding his fire for the right opportunity. My hope as an Edwards supporter is that JE will join this fight, and treat us to a real stemwinder on racism and despicable 21st-century political campaigns.)

3. My guess? Another Clinton campaign miscalculation, too clever by half--that will hurt them badly. Clever by half because they figured they'd ~win~ if Obama rose to the bait and ~win~ votes via insinuation and fear-mongering. What'll happen instead is that they will lose when Obama responds, and they will lose voters, and they will lose their national lead, and they will eventually lose the nomination.

Posted by: paxr55 on January 14, 2008 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

I'm thinking this attitude has spilled outside the sealed off campaign rooms and into the minds of their supporters.

Dunno... it seems like a chicken/egg thing to me, because it seems like campaigns attract roughly similar personality types as staff, volunteers, & supporters, just like any other operations or institutions. IME, the Obama supporters have been [mostly unironic] brave-new-worlders, the Gore hopefuls (including me) were paradigm-shifters-plus-experience, the Edwards cheerleaders occupied a sort of Don Quixote position, and the Clinton people were the know-it-all technocrats. And as is the case more often than we realize, our impressions of the candidates mingle with our responses to their supporters... which I guess makes it no surprise that I eliminated Clinton from consideration early on, then Edwards.

Posted by: latts on January 14, 2008 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

Zmulls: I don't see any way Obama would ever accept a VP position. He's a leader, not a second in command. Nor would she ever offer it to him. Look what happened when Kerry went against his instincts.

And I think the reason Corn wrote the article he did was because of the unusual nature of the Obama-hatred inside the HRC camp.

Posted by: KathyF on January 14, 2008 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

He was asked why Penn was wrong on the polls and he went on a tirade against BO endiing up with the fairy tale line. There were also other things he said. Why that response to a questions about a pollster?

I think that's called changing the subject.

Ever notice politicians do that, when they have a particular point they want to make? Obviously Bill Clinton thought that Obama was getting a free ride on the war support issue, and he used the occasion to launch the attack.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 14, 2008 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

they are playing the Rove card. They are hitting all of his strengths: The war, youth. inspirational style, and the meme that white people only support him because we feel guilty or need an imaginary black friend.

So, question his blackness, or push him to react so he looks like an angry black man that wouldn't make a good imaginary friend.

Can you play the Rove card on a Black candidate without sounding bigoted, insensitive, condescending, and/or ignorant? Do Democrats really want a candidate that is trying to find that out?

I ain't cutting them any slack.

Posted by: scooter on January 14, 2008 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

I'm thinking this attitude has spilled outside the sealed off campaign rooms and into the minds of their supporters.

Bill Richardson said on Olbermann the other night, the candidates like each other, the staffs hate each other. I think that's generally true. Some of McCain's staff from 2000 wound up switching parties, IIRC.

Posted by: Jim on January 14, 2008 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

Seems that you all are taken by Obama and his shallowness and his attempt at being a leader. he is no leader and a whimp for letting his camp take these kinds of things so out of proportion it is sickening. I will be in Hilary's side on this one as she seems to be attacked at every jenction and it seems you all keep giving Obama a pass - UNFAIR!!

Posted by: fr55 on January 14, 2008 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

Why do so many sanctimonious finger waggers think they can tell Bob Johnson that he's playing the race card - especially people who don't know anything about racism and never felt the sting of racist words and actions. Or even at the Clintons who have for all their faults worked hard for economic and racial fairness.

I wish someone had spoken up in 2000 and said Al Gore was doing the heavy lifting in the heat of Vietnam and George W was doing something - we don't know exactly what.

Posted by: Chrissy on January 14, 2008 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

And I think the reason Corn wrote the article he did was because of the unusual nature of the Obama-hatred inside the HRC camp.

Of course, you'd never see the like in the Obama camp towards the Clintons, because, as everyone knows, they are too good for that.

Can you people never put the shoe on the other foot?

Posted by: frankly0 on January 14, 2008 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

The Fairy Tale resides with the Clintons.
--cognitorex--
Bill Clinton nakedly lied to the nation. His national standing was so hemorrhaged that he became quasi toxic in the 2000 election thus single handedly denying Gore his Presidential due. It somehow seems dead wrong that a process has begun, the culmination of which will be to again place this once disgraced man in the White House. We live in the era where stardom supersedes values for the masses, a la American Idol and the "Brittany" effect, but primary voters and the Democratic Party should think long and hard before they offer philandering Bill the first spouse position.
I love Bill and could easily vote for the Clinton him/her or her/him combo but there is a "Fairy Tale" being told in the Clinton electioneering speeches.
The fairy tale is that Hillary can remotely match Mr Obama's ability to affect change in Washington. She/he can claim more experience in the legislative process, etc. but the fact that so many people despise her/him will end up with the legislative process being hallmarked by brutal antagonism. Look for the first ever Republican congressman to perform self immolation rather than give Bill and Hillary passage of any historic legislation. Sadly, they simply have too much negative baggage to approach Mr. Obama's potential for a massive November turn out, or for his potential for systemic change in Washington and his and our hope for some modicum of national healing.

Posted by: cognitorex on January 14, 2008 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

Jim: Bill Richardson thinks everyone likes him.

Posted by: KathyF on January 14, 2008 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

Will everyone please calm the fuck down. Do you really think the Clintons are stupid enough to push all these racial-sensitivity buttons at once? Just when HRC is starting to recover some momentum?

Go read gyrfalcon on January 14, 2008 at 3:06

Posted by: thersites on January 14, 2008 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

Still waiting for someone to come up with an account of how the "fairy tale" remark was intended to be racially divisive!

Crickets are chirping! Give them a rest!

Posted by: frankly0 on January 14, 2008 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

Whenever people get angry with accusations of a racial strategy (I'm not calling it racism, yet) by the Clinton machine, I just have two names that they might remember from 1992: Sister Souljah and Ricky Ray Rector. It isn't like they haven't played these kind of games before (and since Hil takes credit for the Clinton presidency, she must take the good with the bad).

Posted by: Ed on January 14, 2008 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

I think it is fair game to question Obama on racism. Look at his policy on illegal aliens, for ex.

http://obama.senate.gov/issues/immigration/
"The bill also would provide immigrants who are now contributing, responsible members of society an opportunity to remain in the country and earn citizenship."

Pro-illegals often cite anti-Hispanic racism as the motivation for enforcement of immigration laws, so it is certainly fair to cite anti-white racism as the motivation for rewarding illegals with citizenship. Anti-illegals have the law on their side, so clearly pro-illegals have other motivations, such as anti-white racism. Many blacks, Hispanics, and self-hating white liberals gloat over the future majority-minority America. I vividly recall how Peter Jennings used to report on future demographics with a sadistic smirk on his puss.

Posted by: Luther on January 14, 2008 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

How did he "miscontrue", much less deliberately so, what she said?

By suggesting that MLK would have given up if he'd taken her warning about false hopes. That wasn't the sort of thing she had been referring to.

More importantly, it was also a racially loaded example. And by wrapping himself in the cloak of MLK, he attempted to immunize himself from her criticism rather than addressing her point directly.

It was a very clever, and very nasty, bit of business, IMHO.

Posted by: Swift Loris on January 14, 2008 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

I'm an Obama supporter and I agree that some of these individual remarks have been blown out of proportion in terms of the notion that they were racially motivated. I also believe that the Clintons are far from being racist people. Now, having said that, I think the following points should be made.

1. It was Hillary and Bill who turned this whole thing negative and nasty back in late December and early January, when it appeared that she might lose both Iowa and New Hampshire. They started trashing Barack Obama's character and his record and they mocked his message in a mean-spirited fashion. Examples include dredging up Barack's kindergarden dream of becoming president and Bill refering to Obama as a kid. In truth Barack Obama is the same age as Bill when he ran for president, and I'm quite sure that if Barack Obama referred Hillary a "girl" her campaing would be swamping the media with accusations of sexism.

2. Numerous Clinton surrogates have used racially charged terms like "shuck and drive" and at least three have made reference to Barack Obama's teen-age drug-use. This is flat-out below-the-belt, Karl Rove-type stuff. If the Clinton people think this is fair game, does this mean that we should dredge up Gennifer Flowers, Monica, Charlie Trie, Wes Hubbel etc. etc.??

Also, in my opinion Barack Obama deserves credit for being honest and open about his past and his attempt to use it as a lesson for young people. This stands in stark contrast to Bill Clinton himself and George W. Bush, both of whom were unable to bring themselves to be honest about their past. Unfortunately, this inability to tell truth was an open for their behaviour while in office.

3. Barack Obama has never accused Hillary or Bill of being racist. He has accused them of being negative.

4. It is unbecoming for Bill Clinton, a former president and the most prominent elder statesman of the party, to play the role of Hillary's hatchet man and for his to trash one of the party's most brightest and most talented stars. If he wants to champion Hillary's record and her agenda, that's fine, but for him to wage the hatchet is extremely uncool. That should be left to Hillary herself or one of the campaign's many ultra-hacks like Terry McAuliffe.

5. The Clintons' attempts to denigrate Obama's experience and his record, by calling him kid, and saying that he's only spent a few years as a "part-time state senator" are low and far from intellectually honest. Barack Obama has spent his entire life working in public service as a community activist, civil rights attorney, and teacher on the South Side of Chicago in some of the most racially segregated and economically depressed neighborhoods in the country. He has also served as an elected official for longer than Hillary.

Posted by: jbentley on January 14, 2008 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

Ed,

Here's the Wikipedia entry on the Sistah Souljah moment.

Clinton's criticism of Sistah Souljah, and of Jesse Jackson for including her in his Rainbow Coalition, arose out of this quote from her: "If black people kill black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people?"

Somehow, when you look at that quote in the full light of day, it just doesn't seem so unworthy of criticism, does it?

Posted by: frankly0 on January 14, 2008 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

More importantly, it was also a racially loaded example.

Utter nonsense. In the same speech, he also referred to John F. Kennedy. Was that "racially loaded"?

Clinton stepped on her own tongue by talking about "false hopes" in a primary campaign when the last thing people want is compromise and half-measures.

Posted by: Jim on January 14, 2008 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

Bill's fairy tale answer (and his palaver on the Sharpton show) was typical for him, and I like the guy, or used to: canny politics on the one hand but undisciplined on the other.

As part of the messy rhetorical brew seeping out of the Clinton camp, "fairy tale" is part of the broader Clintonian attack on hope, on inspiration, on charisma and change.

Yes, Bill was describing in his rather long-winded and undisciplined way what he said was Obama's actual record on the war and he declared that O's account of his stance in the Senate on the war was "a fairy tale."

But again, like HRC's emo moment in the diner, the clip most Americans saw was "gimme a break . . . that's the biggest fairy tale . . ."

This links Bill's attack specifically to HRC's patronizing remarks about MLK and LBJ. HRC was deriding the power of stories and courage to change countries. Bill follows with the fairy tale business.

They are attacking Obama's strengths: his antiwar stance and his ability to tell a story, to give a speech. Again, too clever by half.

Posted by: paxr55 on January 14, 2008 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

If Barack Obama isn't ready for prime time, then his wife isn't fit for our morning commute. Michelle Obama -- who must've taken her cue from Tim Russert on yesterday's Meet the Press -- excoriated Bill Clinton for calling her husband's campaign a "fairy tale", when he said absolutely nothing of the sort.

This cynical line of campaigning is just so wrong on so many levels, I'm just stunned and disappointed that a candidate who touts himself as above this sort of crap has instead proved himself all too willing to dive face into it.

And speaking of slime, Tim Russert should be ashamed of himself (not that he has ever embarrassed easily, but still ...) for playing yesterday that out-of-context quote from Bill Clinton, coming in on "Give me a break!", and then talking over Hillary's protestations.

That's like playing a soundbite with the subject's opening line being "However" or "Nevertheless". It's patently dishonest journalism, and stands as yet another piece of evidence demonstrating why we need a top-to-bottom reform and disinfecting of our corporate-owned-and-shilling American media. As for Russert, well, he's once again proved himself to be nothing but a tired media whore in dire need of a new set of kneepads.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 14, 2008 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

Just vote Edwards, mon ami.

Posted by: jMe on January 14, 2008 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

Still waiting for someone to come up with an account of how the "fairy tale" remark was intended to be racially divisive!

No idea, but as a caucasian I'm obviously not sensitized to such things, which is of course not saying that they don't exist. But it was snotty & condescending at best even from where I sit, which is IME pretty much characteristic of the Clinton camp from Bill & Hillary down to lowly blog commenters.


Posted by: latts on January 14, 2008 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

Rassmussen Reports, Jan. 14: "among white voters, Clinton leads 41% to 27%. Among African-American voters, Obama leads 66% to 16%"

Posted by: Mr Nice Guy on January 14, 2008 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK
But again, like HRC's emo moment in the diner, the clip most Americans saw was "gimme a break . . . that's the biggest fairy tale . . ." This links Bill's attack specifically to HRC's patronizing remarks about MLK and LBJ. HRC was deriding the power of stories and courage to change countries. Bill follows with the fairy tale business.

Love the creativity, but can't quite follow the logic.

Let me guess: you're an Obama supporter? Is that the sort of thinking you do that makes Obama seem like just the best damn thing?

Posted by: frankly0 on January 14, 2008 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, Why wait another couple of days? I agree that some quotes have been taken out of context (e.g., the fairy tale comment), but as I posted right after NH, the Clintons (no sense in just treating Hillary as a single candidate anymore) have clearly set about injecting negative racial stereotypes into the campaign for political advantage. It started back with Bill Shaheen, continued through the MLK-Johnson bit, and "choked voice" episode, and has only escalated since. For those who are o.k. with this, fine...it's all just hardball politics. But for me, the Clintons' campaign crossed the line, and I've reached the point where I simply won't vote for Hillary even in the general election. Sad, because until recently I thought any of the three Democratic front-runners would make fine presidents. I've also voted Democratic for 20+ years, but we all have to vote our conscience.

Posted by: Noogs on January 14, 2008 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

If Obama cannot withstand this kind of thing NOW, in a Democratic primary, he has no chance whatsoever in November. I mean, you think the GOP will just magically refrain from race-baiting?

Face it: Obama is unviable, untested, unvetted, and unelectable.

Posted by: Mike on January 14, 2008 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, it is disgusting and amateurish.

Posted by: bob h on January 14, 2008 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

"Another few days of comments like the ones we've seen over the past week and my mind will be firmly made up about who to vote for. And it won't be Hillary."

Way to go Kevin, fight the good fight. The racial politics of this campaign again has me realizing just how transformational Obama's candidacy is, and how tired I mentally feel just thinking of another eight years of a Clinton in the White House.

There was an interesting article in the Washington Times about the strained relationship between the civil-rights "old guard" and the candidacy of Barack Obama: how, though he is indebted to the struggle from that era, he is not beholden to them. These are people that courageously fought against racism in the past, but have built quite a nice house for themselves since, and see Barack Obama as a threat to their influence (I commend Jesse Jackson, Jr. for his help in the Obama campaign).

Nevertheless, it is not just the positions of the various candidates that has me supporting Barack Obama's candidacy. Andrew Sullivan wrote, what I regard, as one of the most potent and forceful essays in recent times regarding the benefits of an Obama presidency: he said, in effect, that electing Obama would be tantamount to leaving all that baby-boomer mess, with its grudges and battles regarding Vietnam and the other social battles, finally behind. It would be like a breath of fresh air, politically, and metaphorically. What I hear from Hillary Clinton, and what I see from the Republican side, is more of the same. She is campaigning just how one would expect her to campaign, as well as how Bill would campaign as well. Barack Obama is taking the hits because he is trying to actually take the higher moral ground, and keep this campaign on the merits. Unfortunately, with these side comments such as "shuck and jive", as well as various other statements that seem carefully placed, the response from Obama has him risking falling into a ridiculous and Rovian political battle.

I'll say this much more, Kevin. There was a point in Obama's campaign where he was down twenty points, and the temptation was great for him to go negative. Any other time, we would have expected a politician to do so. Even I was hoping he would go negative in order to differentiate himself and Clinton. But what did he do? He criticized her on the MERITS, and did not play with the political mud-slinging. Now how many times have we seen that? Too often, we suspect that the real motivation behind a politician's endeavors to high office involve power and influence. The use of negative campaigning, at that point in Obama's campaign, could have proven him to be just another politician. But he didn't. He actually forced his people to keep it positive, defying even my wishes for him to "get tough" with Hillary. And we were way off track, and were wrong.

Contrast that with Hillary Clinton. It's been said, but if her name was Hillary Jones, would we be persuaded to give her the big shot. You can try to be clever and mention that with Obama being black, but you'd be off target. Look at his actions while he was in Chicago. Look at his previous statements over issues like Iraq that career politicians (Edwards, Clinton, etc) ended up tangling themselves in knots with in order to be politically solvent. And, yeah, listen to the man talk. He is a practical politician, who "errs" on the side of bipartisanship. We have this one moment to potentially transform this country this upcoming November, and to pass that torch to the new generation (yeah, I know how it sounds, and I mean it). I, for one, want to live in that country where such an opportunity is more recognizable for ever. I'm tired of the same old battles, and the same old guard. It's time to take this country ahead, and I'm sorry, but Hillary Clinton is not the answer. From what I know of him so far, it's Barack Obama.

Posted by: Boorring on January 14, 2008 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

I will simply say that there is a lot of very superficial analysis here and I also find most all of this overblown, But here is my question, how do we analyze this when the speaker is black?

Posted by: Jammer on January 14, 2008 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

Give me a break, Noogs. You're going to avoid voting against the Bob Jones Party because of a few stupid comments? I ain't buying.

Posted by: reino on January 14, 2008 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

The reason the "MLK versus LBJ" comments are race baiting is because if MLK had been president, he surely would have signed the civil rights bill. During that time period, there was no way that MLK, a black man, could have been president. Thus, Hillary was effectively saying blacks couldn't achieve their objectives without the help of whites.

That may well be a historical fact. Hillary may simply be saying, "what's true." But if you seriously cannot see why it can be insulting to repeat, "what's true," and why these remarks in particular are insulting, well, you're a just bit insensitive.

Furthermore, Hillary's remarks imply (by parallelism) that it is still the case that Obama, the black, needs Hillary, the white, to get things accomplished. Sure she meant Obama, the dreamer, needs Hillary, the technocrat, to get things done. She may not have been deliberately race baiting, but she sure did put her foot in it. And frankly, that's a sign of serious political ineptitude.

Hillary's biggest problem is her propensity to seem like she has disdain for those who have different ideas than her. It's a style that seriously pisses people off. (I think I tend to have the same problem... as do a lot of pro-Hillary comments.) I think it is why she has such high negatives, and it will make governing hard for her.

Posted by: Dagome on January 14, 2008 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

I've taken the attitude all the way through that if Hillary was the nominee I'd hold my nose and vote for her. No more. I won't vote for one of the old white men, I'll just sit this one out.

Posted by: vonrking on January 14, 2008 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

I fail to understand how this "analysis" makes any sense. I think you have to ask your self these questions:

1)Why would any national democrat, particularly one who has a good reputation on this issue, want to make a series of racist remarks when black voters and anti-racist voters in general are so important to democratic victories?

2) Why would anyone institute this strategy just before the SC primary in which half the voters are likely to be black?

3)Isn't it more likely that the campaign that is pushing the story with talking points believes this narrative will help its candidate with his perceived "not black enough problem"?

In short, it seems to me the Obama campaign is trying to attack Clinton on one of its strengths (a good reputation among black voters) and is succeeding. Unfortunately, this short term success is being achieved at a high cost to the democratic party's chances in November.

Posted by: Randall on January 14, 2008 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

[to two members of the KKK]
Jim: Oh boys, lookee what I got heyuh.
Bart: Hey, where the white women at?

Posted by: Trypticon on January 14, 2008 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

Love the creativity, but can't quite follow the logic.

frankly0, to quote Hillary, employing her winsome pout, too: "Awww, that really hurt my feelings!"

Yes, my dear, the logic of twinning the Bill/Hillary remarks is the logic of companion insinuations. They attack (1) the idea of a dream (Hill's MLK slapdown), dreams that by their nature must be spelled out in stories and poetry and oratory. And they attack (2) Obama's compelling life story through the Shaheen/Johnson jibes about drugs and the Cuomo shuck and jive shiv, and with Bill's counterfactual account that O isn't even the antiwar candidate.

It's not on its face logical. It doesn't exactly track. But it's a messy rhetorical brew designed to poison those who imbibe. It doesn't have to be logical.

And as I said upthread, I'm an Edwards supporter.

Posted by: paxr55 on January 14, 2008 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

Then comes this utterly stupid Clinton utterance today.

"I remember hearing him speak when I went with my church in downtown Chicago to go and hear and see for myself someone who had burst through the stereotypes and the caricatures who could not be held back by being beaten or gassed or jailed."

Stereotypes? Caricatures? WTF?

http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalradar/2008/01/clinton-recieve.html

Posted by: Chris Brown on January 14, 2008 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmm, I think just the opposite. I think that the Obama campaign has decided to take comments made by the Clintons and make them about race. The MLK remarks are a good example. Anybody who knows their history knows that she was right about Johnson. Was King the central figure in the civil rights movement? Of course; but he could not have gotten the legislation passed at that point in time without Johnson leaning on Congressmen. That's basic history.

So I think that this is either willful misunderstanding or lack of knowledge about Lyndon Johnson. The former seems more likely to me than the latter.

And if it can be twisted around to make Hillary Clinton look bad, the reasoning(IMO) of the Obama campaign goes, so much the better.

Posted by: Susan on January 14, 2008 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

It's amazing how Obama with his Svengali-like influence got the Clintons and their supporters to make dubious statements just in time for South Caroli...Nevada, I mean.

What an awesome dude!

Posted by: Lucy on January 14, 2008 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK
Face it: Obama is unviable, untested, unvetted, and unelectable.

Regardless of whether or not that is true, its worth noting that he is more tested, vetted, and more frequently tested-through-election than Clinton.

The Clinton camp's attacks on these lines are pure attack-your-opponent-where-you-are-weak-to-distract-attention tactic.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 14, 2008 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

1)Why would any national democrat, particularly one who has a good reputation on this issue, want to make a series of racist remarks when black voters and anti-racist voters in general are so important to democratic victories?

Clinton hopes all will be forgiven before November.

2) Why would anyone institute this strategy just before the SC primary in which half the voters are likely to be black?

Clinton wants the Super Tuesday states and is willing to concede the south.

3)Isn't it more likely that the campaign that is pushing the story with talking points believes this narrative will help its candidate with his perceived "not black enough problem"?

Rassmussen Reports, as of Jan. 14, "among white voters, Clinton leads 41% to 27%. Among African-American voters, Obama leads 66% to 16%"

Which is why HRC continues to 'complain' about the Obama camp pushing the story; they want a white backlash.

Posted by: Mr Nice Guy on January 14, 2008 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

Boorring: "From what I know of him so far, it's Barack Obama."

Then your level of political education is clearly stunted at an elementary school-level, through your own willful naivete.

Suffice to say that if his campaign keeps tacking toward an open sewer, Sen. Obama shouldn't be trusted with organizing a one-float parade down Michigan Ave., let alone handed the keys to the Oval Office.

His political sleight-of-hand regarding his campaign's thinly-veiled race-baiting and misogyny is totally unworthy of Democrats, and does the Clintons -- who've a clear and laudatory history of doing so much for the betterment of African-Americans in this country -- a rank injustice and a terrible wrong.

That being said, the Clintons also need to draw a deep breath themselves. A good start would be to publicly tell BET founder Bob Johnson to STFU. That comment was just as hurtful, and was way out of line.

Regardless, I know what I'm going to do. As of right now, for the next week I'm turning everything off that's political, and will instead focus upon my fondest hopes for a New England - Green Bay Super Bowl.

Aloha.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 14, 2008 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, you concede that of the ten or so incidents in the blog, a fair number of them are completely silly and inoffensive.

Suppose for a second that I accused ten otherwise law-abiding people of burglary. You later find out that I completely made up five of my stories. What does this make you think about my other five accusations?

Racism accusations are easy to throw and difficult to refute. Don't fall into that trap. Remember that to many of the people who believe in these accusations, the most likely explanation for the NH results is that about 10% of NH Democratic voters are closet racists.

Posted by: Orange on January 14, 2008 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

The reason the "MLK versus LBJ" comments are race baiting is because if MLK had been president, he surely would have signed the civil rights bill. During that time period, there was no way that MLK, a black man, could have been president. Thus, Hillary was effectively saying blacks couldn't achieve their objectives without the help of whites.

Sorry to interrupt your outrage, which I'm sure you've been working on very, very hard, but why don't we go to what Hillary really said?

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 real in people’s lives because we had a president who said we are going to do it, and actually got it accomplished.
Did you notice the part about Kennedy being "hopeful", but not actually bringing the Civil Rights Act into fruition? Isn't one obvious way to interpret this that it takes a President who is effective and knows how to push things through the legislative process to make such a thing pass, that the "hopefulness" of Kennedy was hardly sufficient? If that is not part of her larger point, why even mention Kennedy?

And even if Kennedy had not been mentioned, why is it insulting to say that pushing the Civil Rights Act through Congress required an extraordinary level of competence in a President -- as it clearly did , just look at the history -- and, without such a partner in the political process, this part of MLK's dream would not have been achieved? (If you have a sincere interest in how that partnership worked, see this article by Sean Wilentz, an historian.)

Where in any of this is an implication that an African-American, in particular, could not be such a President? She is simply arguing that she, with the experience she has, can be more effective than someone with Obama's level of experience in bringing about change and things we might hope for. She has made that argument in dozens of ways already, right? This is simply another illustration of that point.

You're just reading the insult into her quote because you insist on doing so.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 14, 2008 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Why would it take a few more days of the same kind of comments for you to leave the Clinton camp?

Haven't you heard enough already?! Can you really stomach eight more years of this crap?

Posted by: Andy from Washington on January 14, 2008 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

I tend to agree with a previous commenter, re: MLK comments. HRC's comments were offensive not because they were historically accurate, but because they implied that EVEN TODAY a black man needs a white to get things done. It kind of cuts to the heart of her Obama criticism - i.e. that he's naive and incapable of doing the job at hand - but with a racial twist. I had hoped we had moved beyond that type of thinking.

I know that HRC supporters defend her remarks by saying "dreamer's need doers to get things done" but I still think that's insentive at best, offensive at worst. It's insensitive in that it ignores the fact that it was MLKs dream, courage, and leadership that ENABLED the legislation in the first place. And it's offensive in that it implies that MLKs effort and sacrifice was less important than LBJs.

Moreover, the logic could equally be flipped on its head (doers need dreamers) and since Presidents really are just talking heads, speechgivers, and rally MCs, then Obama should be the choice. Because, by all measures, Obama is better at that sort of stuff than she is.

Posted by: Nobcentral on January 14, 2008 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

Just a teaser from Sean Wilentz's article, linked to in my post above:

...Let us very, very carefully look at that historical record.
In a pair of television interviews earlier this week, Clinton made the uncontroversial historical observation that Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement put their lives on the line for racial equality, and that President Johnson enacted civil rights legislation.
Her point was simple: Although great social changes require social movements that create hope and force crises, elected officials, presidents above all, are also required in order to turn those hopes into laws. It was, plainly, a rejoinder to the accusations by Obama that Clinton has sneered at "hope." Clinton was also rebutting Obama's simplistic assertions about "hope" and the American Revolution, the abolition of slavery, and the end of Jim Crow.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 14, 2008 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

Nobcentral:

Wrong, wrong, wrong. In no way did Clinton suggest that a black person needs whites to get something done. Just that observation shows prejudice on your part.

You said:

"It's insensitive in that it ignores the fact that it was MLKs dream, courage, and leadership that ENABLED the legislation in the first place."

This works both ways. One can also say that it was Johnson who ENABLED King's dream to take the giant leaps that it did in the 1960s. And if you read Hillary's entire quote, she gives full credit to King for the reasons you have stated. Her quote has been completely taken out of context.

It's like when neo-Confederates quote Lincoln as saying that he didn't care whether he freed the slaves in preserving the Union, but ignore the part of the quote where Lincoln says that this is only his conception of his official presidential duty, and that he believes all men should be free.


And to be honest, TOUGH SHIT if what Hillary said was offensive. People should have the right to speak historical fact without constantly worrying about phrasing what they say so others won't be offended.

Posted by: Lee on January 14, 2008 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

Frankly0 - There's nothing insulting by repeating history and clearly stating that without a president, the Civil Rights Act wouldn't have been passed. That's sort of a no duh kinda thing.

But you can't ignore the clear racial lines in which that history lies nor in the implication that the next MLK-esque black leader is equally incapable of producing the type of social/policy change that is necessary. She didn't say that to a white man. Nor were the comments made in a vacuum. They're either insensitive or offensive.

Let's put it another way. Her suggestion, by implication, is that were MLK president, he wouldn't have been able to get the Civ Rights Act passed because he was a visionary leader of a movement and not "presidential". Ergo, Obama wouldn't make a good president. I don't know about you but not only does that seem like extremely faulty logic, it seems pretty offensive to me.

But I dunno, maybe i'm reading too much into it. Either way, Hillary should have known to tread VERY lightly on that issue as race is still an open sore on America.

Posted by: Nobcentral on January 14, 2008 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

I was never going to vote for Clinton, but only now am I actually disgusted with her. I had thought that race-baiting -- even if only by proxy -- was beneath her.

Posted by: tom on January 14, 2008 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

Boorring: "From what I know and so far, it's Barack Obama."

Then your level of political education is clearly stunted at an elementary school-level, through your own willful naivete.

...

... As of right now, for the next week I'm turning everything off that's political, and will instead focus upon my fondest hopes for a New England - Green Bay Super Bowl.

The guy doesn't back your candidate, so he must be an idiot? One of the complaints you've expressed here has to do with your feeling that Obama supporters can be smug & sanctimonious. How is your reaction here an improvement on that? Maybe a little break for football is a good idea. I'll look forward to seeing you when you're back, Donald.

Posted by: junebug on January 14, 2008 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

Jim:
Utter nonsense. In the same speech, he also referred to John F. Kennedy. Was that "racially loaded"?

No, it was the MLK example that was racially loaded. The JFK example, of course, was also loaded, just not racially. That made it less obvious what he was doing with the MLK example.

Dagome:
The reason the "MLK versus LBJ" comments are race baiting is because if MLK had been president, he surely would have signed the civil rights bill. During that time period, there was no way that MLK, a black man, could have been president. Thus, Hillary was effectively saying blacks couldn't achieve their objectives without the help of whites.

You're forgetting that it was Obama, not Hillary, who injected MLK into the "false hopes" issue. She was responding to the example Obama handed her.

Susan:
I think that the Obama campaign has decided to take comments made by the Clintons and make them about race.

I think so too. It's implausible in the extreme that the Clintons would use such a strategy. It's not at all implausible that Obama would want people to think that's what they're doing.

Cui bono?

Posted by: Swift Loris on January 14, 2008 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

The "fairy tale" remark had no racial overtones at all. I, for one, have never associated the word "fairy" with black people, so I fail to see how this could be racial AT ALL. It might be implying that he's childish, as in young and unexperienced, but that's fair game.

Also, I think the MLK, LBJ, JFK remark was pointing out, rightly, that stirring rhetoric needs hardball politics to create new law. Given Barack's oratory and its civil rights flavor, I don't find this analogy racist, either, but apt.

But here's what I really want Kevin to answer. What did he think of Barack saying Hillary was likeable "enough." To me, that was a horrible sexist remark, belittling her and putting her in her place. And it was so offhand. Why did he say anything at all? This remark ALONE turned me a little away from Barack and toward Hillary.

And her showing of some human emotion the next day turned me more toward her, as my previous dislike of her was based on the fact that she seemed a heartless robot. Seeing the human being under the grit really helped.

Both sides are playing hardball, and of course I don't like seeing "our" candidates doing it, but overall I'd have to say that now, I'm valuing experience over rhetoric and backing Clinton.

Posted by: Cal Gal on January 14, 2008 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

You seem to want to see the comment in a vacuum. Good luck with that.
Her quote:

"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,"

Nope. Began to be realized long before that. Without the movement, Johnson wouldn't have done jack. You can say chicken/egg but I think it's pretty clear that it took a visionary leader to move white america toward equality, to get a white Prez to even consider the idea. The Civ Rights Act was more like the legislative teeth to give legal backing to change that was already underway in much of the nation.

"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."

Yep - needed a Prez to get it done. Why is that relevant AT ALL unless she's comparing herself and Obama with LBJ and MLK?

"That dream became a reality, the power of that dream became real in people’s lives because we had a president who said we are going to do it, and actually got it accomplished."

Still ignoring that the dream had ALREADY made a huge impact in people's lives, both black and white, long before the CRA of 64 was passed. Also this wouldn't be relevant unless by implication she's suggesting Obama can't get stuff done as prez.

Shorter HRC: Much like MLK, Obama is a blowhard who can stir up the people but won't be able to get real stuff done like me. That's pretty offensive, no?

Posted by: Nobcentral on January 14, 2008 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

One more time, people:

It wasn't Hillary who brought MLK into it.

It was Obama. She was responding to Obama talking about MLK's dream and insinuating that she would have considered it a "false hope."

Posted by: Swift Loris on January 14, 2008 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

Wilentz is an esteemed historian. Glad to get his thoughts.

HRC's remarks about Martin Luther King (and her palaver on MTP in a cleanup effort) get everything bass-ackwards, deliberately, in an attempt to attack the very idea of a story and the very idea of storytellers intent on change.

Edwards has a story (or three) to tell. Obama has a story.

HRC has a recitation of achievements and no story.

What do the Clintons do when faced with storytellers who invoke once-in-a-century leaders like MLK? They derogate the dreamers and remind everyone that, after all, it's the technocrats who really make change happen.

Self-serving claptrap, I say.


Posted by: paxr55 on January 14, 2008 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

I've kept an open mind about the Democratic candidates. I like traits in each of the major contenders, including Hillary. Having seen the Clinton campaign raise the issue of race in such an ugly way, I'm strongly leaning to "anybody but Hillary". It's truly discusting and has no place in Democratic politics, however hard-fought the battle might be.

Posted by: Randy on January 14, 2008 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

I think a significant number of Obama supporters may stay home for the general and if Obama gets the nomination a significant number of Hillary supporters may do the same.

Then may I be the first to say, thanks! Any combination of McRomguiliannabee will will suck. Don't kid yourselves folks.

Posted by: E Henry Thripshaw on January 14, 2008 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

But here's what I really want Kevin to answer. What did he think of Barack saying Hillary was likeable "enough." To me, that was a horrible sexist remark, belittling her and putting her in her place.

I agree that it wasn't his finest moment, but, really, what the world is sexist about that? It doesn't have anything to do with the fact that she's a woman, and he could've directed it at any of the other male candidates without altering a syllable. It would have meant the exact same thing.

Posted by: junebug on January 14, 2008 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

Cal Gal: What did he think of Barack saying Hillary was likeable "enough." To me, that was a horrible sexist remark, belittling her and putting her in her place.

It was certainly nasty and belittling and pissed me off. What was remotely sexist about it? Had he brought up the issue of likability on his own, it would have been arguable that he was creating double standards, but he was responding directly to her comment about him, "He's very likable."

Don't see the gender connection at all--can anyone explain?

Donald: Then your level of political education is clearly stunted at an elementary school-level, through your own willful naivete.

WTF was that?

You've made some great posts about the need for everyone to keep (and use) our heads during this hyperemotional stretch of the primary season. It's a shame that you often give yourself a pass on the standards of dialogue you so laboriously set for others. It so often comes off as, "I know this is an out-of-bounds thing to say but...I feel like saying it, so deal."

Posted by: shortstop on January 14, 2008 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

Nobcentral:

"Nope. Began to be realized long before that."

Well, King certainly didn't seem to think so when he delivered his "I Have A Dream" speech!

Posted by: Lee on January 14, 2008 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

This conversation happens now, on terms more or less set by these Clinton surrogates, or it happens in the general, on terms set by some cynical Republican 527. That sucks, but it's also reality.

Posted by: Joe on January 14, 2008 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

What do the Clintons do when faced with storytellers who invoke once-in-a-century leaders like MLK?

Here's the "story" Obama invoked:

"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."

They derogate the dreamers and remind everyone that, after all, it's the technocrats who really make change happen.

In response, nowhere did Clinton "derogate" MLK.

Posted by: Swift Loris on January 14, 2008 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK
Let's see, two centrist Democrats, Josh Marshall and Kevin Drum, both of whom favored the invasion of Iraq (that's pretty centrist) are pushing this story which favors Obama, a centrist Democrat who repeats RNC talking points and talks about bipartisanship
Posted by: Riesz Fischer on January 14, 2008 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

You have it backwards. Drum and Marshall both initially supported the idea of invading Iraq, but got disgusted with White House lies and then opposed the invasion.

Likewise, Drum at least (I don't know about Marshall) has initially supported Clinton, but now says he is disgusted enough with Clinton campaign lies to consider supporting Obama.

Posted by: Gary Sugar on January 14, 2008 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

We need to pull the Clintons from their dangerous abyss. They need to stop all their talk how they are so great and understanding of Black people. Honestly, it's just paternalistic garbage. And the quicker they get out of that arena the better off we'll all be.

One of the reasons Al Gore lost, if he indeed did lose, was his huffing and puffing at how ignorant George Bush was (is). True, Bush is a damn fool, but Gore made a bigger fool out of himself by hinting that he was the better man. We need to decide that, not him. The Clintons posit that Obama is an idiot compared to them. Folks, this does not play well in Peoria. Button you lips Hill and Bill.

Posted by: Dr WU-the last of the big time thinkers on January 14, 2008 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

One more time, people:

It wasn't Hillary who brought MLK into it.

IIRC, the back and forth began with HRC in NH trying a new tack: deride dreamers (i.e., the guys who win in Iowa).

Obama, having a bit of fun with the new Clinton campaign tack, began to cite JFK's Rice University speech about going to the moon (Gee, that's far. Forget it.) Then he talked about MLK in the same light fashion: I have a dream--nah. Not so sure about that. Again, mocking the new Clinton theme: dreaming bad, technocrats, good!

It was then that HRC deployed her MLK remarks that we're discussing here. She tried to say Obama was just a movement, just pretty words, and wasn't capable of the political part of the equation. It's a fallacious argument because Obama is running to be president, not to be the leader of a movement. She defining him down and herself up.

Posted by: paxr55 on January 14, 2008 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

Storytellers?

Posted by: Pat on January 14, 2008 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

Chrissy: Why do so many sanctimonious finger waggers think they can tell Bob Johnson that he's playing the race card - especially people who don't know anything about racism and never felt the sting of racist words and actions. Or even at the Clintons who have for all their faults worked hard for economic and racial fairness...I wish someone had spoken up in 2000 and said Al Gore was doing the heavy lifting in the heat of Vietnam and George W was doing something - we don't know exactly what.

Bob Johnson And to me, as an African-American," Johnson said, "I am frankly insulted that the Obama campaign would imply that we are so stupid that we would think Hillary and Bill Clinton, who have been deeply and emotionally involved in black issues since Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood –­ and I won’t say what he was doing, but he said it in the book –­ when they have been involved.

What Bill Clinton and Bill Johnson ask us to believe: With 'and I won't say what he was doing' Mr. Johnson was referring to Mr. Obama's community organizing.

How I react: What a load of horseshit.

And add, Chrissy, no one is claiming that the Clintons are racist per se. No one. What people do claim is it does seem they and their operatives are trying to force Mr. Obama into the box of restricted appeal of being 'the black candidate.' I like Kevin find this an odious route to the nomination (but probably a useful crucible for Mr. Obama to pass through).

(anyway please tell me to STFU; I'm a Canuck poking his nose into your election)


Posted by: snicker-snack on January 14, 2008 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

I am rethinking my opposition to Obama. I was skeptical because his “hope and inclusiveness” message seemed to imply more than a bit of naivety, but I am impressed how he has applied jujitsu to the Clinton campaign, taking a series of Clinton missteps and poorly expressed poorly thought out statements and selling a meme of the Clinton’s playing the race card, all without his appearing to be personally involved. It helps that a significant portion of his supporters are truly in love with him, so they display a visceral reaction to any perceived slight.

It is safe to say no truly “nice” person will ever be president, nor would we want one to be. Politics is a contact sport, and it is important the eventually nominee sharpens his or her message and learns to deal with the R’s counterattacks. To all of you who promise to stand by and watch the Repubs win if your candidate doesn’t get the nomination, if you can’t stand seeing sausage made then get out of the sausage factory.

Posted by: fafner1 on January 14, 2008 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

This is the way I see Hillary's strategy. Despite the win in NH, Camp Hillary internally knows they're still behind. Obama's picked up endorsements lately from unions in NV and politicians from both ends of the spectrum that show he really is able to pull together liberals and conservatives like he says he can. Nelson, Johnson, McCaskill, and Napolitano are really sticking their necks out after NH siding with Obama at a time when this race is still far from decided. They're risking a lot by irritating the candidate who has been the frontrunner for a year and who has - unless the recount shows otherwise -just made a huge comeback. It's practically a tradition for Americans to give the "inevitable candidate" a scare before succumbing to conventional wisdom. They know that but they see so much more upside for them, their downballot candidates and their state parties with Obama that they've done it anyway.

So I think it's not just Hillary who knows her numbers going forward look bad. If she lets the culinary union workers caucus on the strip she loses NV. It looks awful to have her teachers union surrogates sue in an effort to suppress votes and that speaks to the desperation of her situation.

She's not so subtly playing the sex card while trying to goad Obama into playing the race card with her surrogates and the dumb MLK,JFK,LBJ comment. If she can get him - not his surrogates - to react like Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson she can knock him out. He might get 99% of the SC black vote and win there but he'd lose the white vote everywhere else by making himself into niche candidate.

I think Obama's too smart for that. While he's vociferously responded to their attacks on Iraq. He had this to say about the MLK thing:

"She made an ill-advised statement about Dr. King, suggesting that Lyndon Johnson had more to do with the Civil Rights Act," Obama said. "I did not make the statement. I haven't commented on the statement. For them to suggest that we're injecting race as a consequence of a statement she made that we haven't commented on is pretty hard to figure out.

I got an email from Hillary this morning appealing for volunteers to help her phonebank, canvass etc. for the big push on 2/5. No mention of my specific state which has a 2/5 primary or NV or SC. Looks like she's not counting on either of those states and leapfrogging to February.

Posted by: markg8 on January 14, 2008 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

"if you can’t stand seeing sausage made then get out of the sausage factory."

THAT'S SEXIST!!


Kidding.

Posted by: Boorring on January 14, 2008 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

One more time, people:
It wasn't Hillary who brought MLK into it.
It was Obama. She was responding to Obama talking about MLK's dream and insinuating that she would have considered it a "false hope."
Posted by: Swift Loris

So. What?

Is there a prohibition on mentioning important historical figures in campaigns? Of course not. You don't like it because Obama effectively used this allusion to King (and Kennedy, which doesn't count because he's not black. Or something) to take advantage of a gaffe HRC made during the debate. Clinton then unwisely kept the topic alive because, in spite of her thirty-five-years-of-experience-in-politics she can't quite grasp the whole when in a hole, stop digging rule.

Posted by: Jim on January 14, 2008 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

Nobcentral,

I just can't even get the logic of what you say, precisely because your argument is so racially based, and twisted in its insistence on stereotyping everything and everybody, that it defies normal thought.

Your logic seems to be something along the lines of: Hillary said that MLK, an African-American, is a "dreamer", and not an implementer, and LBJ, who is a white man, is not a "dreamer", but an implementer. Therefore, what Hillary is clearly saying, or at least implying, according to you, is that all African-Americans are dreamers, and only white men are implementers. I mean, isn't it just obvious that that's what she's really saying? -- again, according to you.

Now, perhaps in your world, where everything is based on the color of your skin, and every story or anecdote or episode is nothing more than an unveiling of stereotypes, this kind of logic makes sense. I'll grant you, if that is how you think, and what you consider logical, you've made your case.

For those of us who use normal logic, though, it lacks a trifle in good sense, you know? For the rest of us, you see, we regard that abandonment of the ordinary way of using logic as being pretty destructive of the ability to communicate all kinds of important points without offending people right and left.

Now, no doubt you'd like that state of affairs, because enforcing some kind of superior "identity politics" logic is what makes you go. But I'm not sure how many people would be happy to join you in that game.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 14, 2008 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

Dear Donald from Hawaii - you hope for Packers vs Pats?

God ......... I used to have such a high opinion of you and your posts. Now I am crushed, just absolutely crushed.

Weenie is a die-hard Steelers fan and cannot fathom why all the rest of the world is not.

Weenie also thinks that there are a lot of new Obama concern trolls on this site today that have probably never read Washington Monthly or even see the Friday Catblogging. Wonder who has sent them here.

Posted by: optical weenie on January 14, 2008 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

snick: (anyway please tell me to STFU; I'm a Canuck poking his nose into your election)

Why, especially when your points are so right on?

What people do claim is it does seem they and their operatives are trying to force Mr. Obama into the box of restricted appeal of being 'the black candidate.'

When a candidate of color gets slapped with the "angry black man looking for racism everywhere" label, he loses white support and becomes a fringe candidate. And it is very, very easy to get tagged with that label in the U.S., where many white Americans still have little tolerance for accusations of even inadvertent racism.

In the minds of many whites, all it takes to turn Obama into Al Sharpton is Obama making a handful of complaints about racism.

I don't know if the Clintons are doing this on purpose, but the people who are arguing that the Clintons wouldn't do it because it would only hurt HRC's candidacy aren't seriously thinking about who the loser is going to be if Obama keeps taking what may be the bait. Black Americans are only, what 13 percent of the population? White Americans who love black candidates who manage not to act too black...gosh, I can't assign a percentage, but it's a hell of a lot more than 13.

And yes, the Big Dog is insulting everyone's intelligence with this "take Mr. Johnson at his word" crap. Johnson was coyly sneering and hinting and winking about Obama's community organizing? Give us all a fucking break. I'd have a lot more respect for both of them if they stood by Johnson's sophomoric snark.

Posted by: shortstop on January 14, 2008 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

Point Obama.

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

Point Obama.

I'd say so.

Posted by: shortstop on January 14, 2008 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

It's just transparently obvious to even the most casual observer that the Clintons (plural...because that's who we're annointing here) are getting increasingly desperate and has adopted the Willie Horton, Swift boat, Rovian tactics as the only means potential at this time. Desperation on the part of the Cluster B personality narcissism...i.e. willing and acting to hurt others for their own purposes. At what point will the Rove masks come out???

Posted by: Michael Gardner on January 14, 2008 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

Point Obama.

I'd say so.

Posted by: shortstop

As the late and much lamented Miss Ivins used to say about Big Dog himself (which is ironic, in light of BC's recent floundering), that sumbitch is good.

Posted by: Jim on January 14, 2008 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

Point Obama

Kinda funny how Obama can affect not to know his what own campaign is doing (not to mention the remarks of Jesse Jackson Jr. -- his national campaign co-chair, for Christ's sake) and get away with it, where Hillary is held fully responsible for what people sometimes only tangentially related, if at all, to her campaign may say (Andrew Cuomo, the head of BET).

Posted by: frankly0 on January 14, 2008 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

Clinton/Belichick '08!

Posted by: lampwick on January 14, 2008 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know why Robert Johnson said what he said. I wish that he wouldn't have said it. Unlike the MLK remark, I don't see any reason to say something like that. I wish that they would all begin debating policy.

Posted by: Susan on January 14, 2008 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

So, Obama might know about a simple list for his SC campaign chair?

This is the same Obama campaign memo I referred to in my 4:01. It's a simple list of the Clinton camp jibes, identifying the speaker, providing a partial transcript, and then (sometimes) responses from the Donna Braziles of the world:

Here's the graf on the Cuomo star-turn:

Subject: MUST READ: Key S.C. figure takes issue with Clintons

SHUCK AND JIVE

"Clinton Supporter Andrew Cuomo, Referring To Obama, Said "You Can't Shuck And Jive At A Press Conference. All Those Moves You Can Make With The Press Don't Work When You're In Someone's Living Room." Clinton-supporting New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said the thing that's great about New
Hampshire is that you have to go out and meet people rather than "shuck and jive" through press conferences there. Cuomo said of New Hampshire on an Albany radio station: "It's not a TV-crazed race. Frankly, you can't buy your way into it. You can't shuck and jive at a press conference. All those moves you can make with the press don't work when you're in someone's living room." [Newsday, 1/11/08]"

I see from Huffpo linking to CNN that Bill Clinton has his own list of what I presume are Obama attacks. Isn't this what you do in a campaign--keep lists of these things?

And, yes, point Obama.


Posted by: paxr55 on January 14, 2008 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

paxr55:
It was then that HRC deployed her MLK remarks that we're discussing here.

When she was asked to respond to Obama's mockery (which was a misrepresentation to begin with). And it was hardly a "bit of fun" on Obama's part. It was hostile.

She tried to say Obama was just a movement, just pretty words, and wasn't capable of the political part of the equation. It's a fallacious argument because Obama is running to be president, not to be the leader of a movement. She defining him down and herself up.

She was saying, in effect, that he'd make a fine MLK--does that "define [Obama] down"?--but not such a hot LBJ. That may or may not be false, but it isn't "fallacious," nor does it demean Dr. King. And it was Obama who specified MLK to begin with.

markg8, quoting Obama:
"She made an ill-advised statement about Dr. King, suggesting that Lyndon Johnson had more to do with the Civil Rights Act. I did not make the statement. I haven't commented on the statement. For them to suggest that we're injecting race as a consequence of a statement she made that we haven't commented on is pretty hard to figure out."

That's disingenuous in the extreme. He made the statement about MLK to which she was responding; if anyone injected race, it was him. And she's since made it very clear that she was not saying LBJ had "more to do with the Civil Rights Act."

Jim:
Is there a prohibition on mentioning important historical figures in campaigns?

Did somebody say there was?

You don't like it because Obama effectively used this allusion to King (and Kennedy, which doesn't count because he's not black. Or something) to take advantage of a gaffe HRC made during the debate. Clinton then unwisely kept the topic alive

She was asked to respond directly to his allusions. If she hadn't, she'd have been accused of dodging the question. She was justifiably annoyed that he'd engaged in sarcasm that managed both to misrepresent her point about "false hopes" as a gaffe, and to equate himself with MLK so as to immunize himself against it.

She ain't perfect by a long shot. But the charge of race baiting--by progressives, no less--is absurd and revolting.

Posted by: Swift Loris on January 14, 2008 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

Let's see The NY Post and Ben Smith publish a rumor they can't find one person to corroborate about some supposedly misogynist Jay Z played at a Obama victory party in IA. The DJ's playlist was posted to a diary at Kos and he says there was no rap played at all. That makes sense. We're talking about IA here, where 99.99% of Obama's supporters in corn country are white for God's sake.

In the meantime Hillary has Bob Johnson who has made a cool billion exploiting his own people with really ugly and demeaning gangster rap on BET for years, who has succeeded in keeping any and all competition in his broadcasting niche off cable, who once took out full page ads and made speeches advocating the abolishment of the inheritance tax, ridiculing Obama for his admitted drug dabbling as a kid.

That's classy! Hillary should be proud of herself. But not as proud as I'm gonna be to vote for Obama.


Posted by: markg8 on January 14, 2008 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry to interrupt your outrage, which I'm sure you've been working on very, very hard

What is it with Clinton supporters and their serious issues of projection? Frankly0, I'm not working hard at all.

why is it insulting to say that pushing the Civil Rights Act through Congress required an extraordinary level of competence in a President

It's not. But part of this story is that MLK could not realize his dream on his own --- we agree that the point she was trying to make is that Obama cannot realize his dream on his own. Her comments are arguing that if MLK were made president he wouldn't have had the "extraordinary level of competence" needed to complete his dream. How can we even know that? I'm sorry, but yeah, I hear it as insulting.

You're just reading the insult into her quote because you insist on doing so.

I understand what she was going for. I find it unconvincing, but that's besides the point. I'm not exactly sure what the evidence is that she has the "extraordinary level of competence" needed. Her first failure at health care? Her horrible votes on the war? Or maybe she wants credit for Bill's accomplishments, like "don't ask, don't tell?"

But the point is not what I "insist" on doing. I think the point is more that politics is not fair, and if she was actually good at politics, she wouldn't have made comments that would touch so rawly for so many. I didn't think it was fair when Reagan was elected. It was hugely unfair when Bush was elected, a travesty when he was re-elected.

Your comments seem to suggest that style and charisma shouldn't matter in American politics, (despite the examples of Reagan and Bush) and that makes you a much bigger dreamer than Obama. Maybe it makes me more cynical than the Clintons.

Posted by: Dagome on January 14, 2008 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

I agree that some of the comments alleged to have a racial tinge, such as saying Obama's status as an opponent of the war is a "fairy tale," are not racist -- wrong, but not racist. I also don't believe HRC was being racist in her discussion of the relative roles of MLK and LBJ. I understand the point she was making, but she made it badly.

But two things are worth noting here. First, Obama is not keeping this issue alive or fanning it. It is not to his advantage long term. After these remarks, Obama and his campaign said essentially nothing. It was comments made by Donna Brazile and SC Rep. James Clyburn, both of whom are neutral in the Democratic primary and both of whom have strong ties to the Clintons, that got the media's attention. So it is utterly a lie to say this controversy is Obama's doing.

Second, why couldn't HRC just say on MTP Sunday that she was making her point about inspiration vs. perpsiration inelegantly, apologize and move on. Why couldn't HRC, who was on the platform with Robert Johnson, say, "gee, he's a successful businessman and I appreciate his support, but his implied comment about drug abuse was out of line." We've had a president for seven years who just couldn't admit he was wrong; I ain't lookin' for a president for another four years with the same problem.

Posted by: Scott on January 14, 2008 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

Swift, you wrote, "She was saying, in effect, that he'd make a fine MLK--does that "define [Obama] down"?--but not such a hot LBJ. That may or may not be false, but it isn't "fallacious," nor does it demean Dr. King. And it was Obama who specified MLK to begin with."

You prove my point. She invoked MLK without naming him. Obama got it and had fun with it. I say he had fun because I saw clips of his riffs and found them amusing, not hostile.

And, yes, HRC was defining Obama down in the process. He's her opponent in a presidential primary election, not an iconic civil rights leader.

Posted by: paxr55 on January 14, 2008 at 7:29 PM | PERMALINK

"Clinton Supporter Andrew Cuomo, Referring To Obama, Said "You Can't Shuck And Jive..."

He wasn't referring to Obama. Here's what he said:

“You know I’ve spent a lot of time in other races, especially in Iowa and in New Hampshire, back with Gore and back with Clinton. Those races require you to do something no other race does, you know, and I like it, and I agree with you, it’s a good thing.

“It’s not a TV-crazed race, you know, you can’t just buy your way through that race …It doesn’t work that way, it’s frankly a more demanding process. You have to get on a bus, you have to go into a diner, you have to shake hands, you have to sit down with ten people in a living room.

“You can’t shuck and jive at a press conference, you can’t just put off reporters, because you have real people looking at you saying answer the question, you know, and all those moves you can make with the press don’t work when you’re in someone’s living room.

“And I think it’s good for the candidates, I think it makes the candidates communicate in a way that works with real people because you know in a living room right away whether or not you’re communicating, and I think the questions are good and I think the scrutiny is good, so you can, you can say they’re small states and they get a lot of attention — they are very good for the process, I believe that.”

Posted by: Swift Loris on January 14, 2008 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK

Dagonme: who said
"The reason the "MLK versus LBJ" comments are race baiting is because if MLK had been president, he surely would have signed the civil rights bill. During that time period, there was no way that MLK, a black man, could have been president. Thus, Hillary was effectively saying blacks couldn't achieve their objectives without the help of whites.

That may well be a historical fact. Hillary may simply be saying, "what's true." But if you seriously cannot see why it can be insulting to repeat, "what's true," and why these remarks in particular are insulting, well, you're a just bit insensitive.

Furthermore, Hillary's remarks imply (by parallelism) that it is still the case that Obama, the black, needs Hillary, the white, to get things accomplished. Sure she meant Obama, the dreamer, needs Hillary, the technocrat, to get things done. She may not have been deliberately race baiting, but she sure did put her foot in it. And frankly, that's a sign of serious political ineptitude."

Finally, a truly cogent explanation for the uproar over the comments of Clinton on MLK and LBJ.
What she meant vs. what some black people heard and felt.

Now, I understand it. It becomes all the more imperative for both sides to toughen up their skins and stop seeing insults where none are intended. If this primary becomes about race...Obama will only win in SC. Stop it. It the Obama campaign is the one who let this genie out of the bottle...they may no longer be able to put it back in and the will rue the day because it will cost Obama the Primary. Why, because the average white, Hispanic, and Asian voter who is not following the blogs and pundits is already afraid of the 'angry black male' stereotyp that he can see in the MSM. Think about it and scale it back.

Posted by: Merg on January 14, 2008 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

Don't you remember Reagan's line in the debates "Well, there you go again"...

Obama's camp: "We'd be grateful to get Sen. Clinton's support when we push through programs to achieve our vision of a better America."

Clinton's camp: "We'd be grateful to get Sen. Obama's support when we push through programs to achieve or vision of a better America"

Who has the better vision for America? Who is better at getting programs through? That's what we need to see!

Posted by: go on January 14, 2008 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

who has accomplished more for black americans, Obama or the Clintons??

Posted by: puppydog on January 14, 2008 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

Her comments are arguing that if MLK were made president he wouldn't have had the "extraordinary level of competence" needed to complete his dream. How can we even know that? I'm sorry, but yeah, I hear it as insulting.

I guess you really do believe that skills and background mean nothing, don't you?

Let's see. LBJ had been in national politics, pushing through legislation for how many decades exactly, before he managed to get the Civil Rights Act enacted? Two? Three? How many decades of such experience did MLK possess? Why exactly none.

Heaven forfend that anyone should imply that such skill and experience might actually be relevant to the ability to push through such legislation. God knows how racist that supposition is. I mean, the very notion that MLK, who had never done any of this, would not be instantly able, without any experience whatever, to do exactly what LBJ did, is by definition racist and insulting by your lights, isn't it?

Turn it around. Does anyone on earth think that LBJ could have played MLKs role in inspiring a popular movement for civil rights? Anyone? Isn't it obvious that, in this particular case, there was a very effective division of labor in which MLK and LBJ both played complementary roles? And unless you insist (as likely you will) that, somehow, the traits we attribute to MLK must hold of all and only African-Americans, and the traits we attribute to LBJ must hold of all and only whites, then your entire claim of an "insult" just collapses into the absurdity it is.

Really, your argument just completely denies any kind of common sense. If you want to trump up an insult out of this, there's no logic or argument on heaven or earth that's going to stop you.

And that would be because you know what you're going to conclude before you give it even a single thought.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 14, 2008 at 7:45 PM | PERMALINK

You prove my point. She invoked MLK without naming him. Obama got it and had fun with it.

Huh?? When did she invoke MLK without naming him?

Obama's remark about MLK was "having fun with" her assertion about "false hopes" in the debate, referring specifically to Obama. He then made the association with MLK.

And, yes, HRC was defining Obama down in the process. He's her opponent in a presidential primary election, not an iconic civil rights leader.

Who do you think will be remembered longer, MLK or LBJ? I'd say she was defining Obama up.

Posted by: Swift Loris on January 14, 2008 at 7:46 PM | PERMALINK

Obama seeks to lower temperature, Clinton follows

There's a revealing headline.

Posted by: junebug on January 14, 2008 at 7:46 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't it obvious that, in this particular case, there was a very effective division of labor in which MLK and LBJ both played complementary roles?

Bingo.

Obama seeks to lower temperature, Clinton follows

And it ought to end this discussion.


Posted by: Swift Loris on January 14, 2008 at 7:52 PM | PERMALINK

The Clintons make me physically sick. We have a couple running for the Presidency, another first in a time of firsts. A sordid couple saddled with a burden of psychological dysfunction, who intend to foist the nation with their burden for another 4 years. A couple who will ensure that a progressive agenda will be held hostage to their desire to be on top of everything.

They will obviously do anything to win, even if it destroys the Democratic Party. They've just tried, very hard, to force Obama into the company of Sharpton and Jackson, knowing they can try to kill him there. No matter that he is the most inspirational African American leader to emerge in decades. Might as well try to snuff him out now before he gets too uppity. He's all words and hope and reaching out to a broader audience. We surely don't want that kind of fairy tale.

For the Clintons, it's better to keep the current Black narrative and bleed it for all it's worth.

I'm one Dem who isn't voting for this creep if she is the nominee.

Posted by: Manfred on January 14, 2008 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK


HRC defining Obama up? Nope.

Perhaps we can agree HRC sought to define Obama away.


Posted by: paxr55 on January 14, 2008 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

Enough with conspiracy theories, I actually think both the Clintons are smarter than they are being portrayed. I think we are all blowing everything out of proportion.

Posted by: LS on January 14, 2008 at 8:06 PM | PERMALINK

And it ought to end this discussion.
Swift Loris on January 14, 2008 at 7:52 PM

Amen.

And hopefully we won't have to hear "is Obama black enough?" anymore, either.

Posted by: thersites on January 14, 2008 at 8:09 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, why do you feel like you need "a few more days" of these types of comments for your mind to be firmly made up? The evidence is clear, as you seem to realize. Are you still seriously considering drinking the Clinton kool-aid?

Posted by: Jeremy on January 14, 2008 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK

Every four years I hear this type of shrill, disingenuous, candidate degrading crap. I don't think dems will ever learn.

Posted by: B on January 14, 2008 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

Starting with you Kevin...you all a bunch of suckers. Read what she said..not the Russert edited crap that was intended to form the sentiments voiced here. For God';s sake...do you all have to take the media / GOP bait EVERY time it is put in the water? Damn Kevin...I never thought you could be so hoodwinked.
PS: Seems Obama agrees with me. It was NOT RACIAL!!!!

Posted by: Richard on January 14, 2008 at 8:22 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen’s Willie Horton Rating System. Hmm. The Willie Horton affair was a slickly produced TV add by Republican operatives, which I believe still operate under the moniker of Citizen’s United. You know, Floyd Brown and his merry band of Democrat, especially Clinton, haters who mustreally be celebrating all of this. I don’t quite think Willie Horton applies here.

I’ll run through what Steve Benen calls the incidents/remarks with my own current reactions, which could change with additional information.

Bill Clinton referred to Obama’s movement as a “fairly tale”. Steve rightly debunked this one, but still assigned 1 Horton. Me, I would assign 1 Horton to the Obama campaign for trying to make it a racial issue. Haven’t heard Obama himself talk about it, but hasn’t disavowed it either.

Hillary Clinton downplayed the significance of Martin Luther King, Jr Steve assigns 4 Hortons for poorly chosen words. Very strange. I think it’s totally ambiguous, so I would only assign 1 Horton for “she should be more careful”. Also, assign 1 Horton to the Obama campaign for going out on a limb to make it a racial thing.

Andrew Cuomo’s “shuck and jive” comments Steve Benen says the context makes it look a little better. I have to laugh. Is not context everything? Or is context now a Clintonian triangulation? I always thought context was simply additional information and that information is good. Context will tell you that Cuomo was not even answering a question about Obama, nor was Obama in the answer. Yet, in spite of the mitigating context, Steve assigns a whopping 3 Hortons. I kinda doubt Andrew Cuomo cleared this with Hillary, so I’ll assign a single Horton to Andrew. Art Garfunkel gets 10 Hortons for writing a song decades ago without realizing the term could only be applied to a certain ethnicity. Don’t know if the Obama campaign has specifically addressed so no assignment there.

Bob Kerrey’s “Muslim” and “madrassa” comments Steve assigns 5 Hortons. I agree, only I assign them to Kerry, not Clinton. Also have to give Steve 1 Horton for implying Clinton guilt.

Billy Shaheen’s drug dealer comments— Agree with Steve’s 5 Hortons, but assign them to Shaheen. Didn’t Clinton fire the guy? Still, he was with her campaign, so assign a Horton to her for not controlling the guy.

Bob Johnson’s drug dealer comments Steve assigns 5 Hortons. I agree, only I assign them to Johnson. Clinton can’t fire him since he is not with the campaign. Still, I give her 2 Hortons for not diligently vetting and warning the guy prior to appearing with him. Hope she has learned her lesson. And I think Johnson’s explanation is pathetic. If it turns out Hillary colluded with him, she gets at least 5 Hortons.

Sergio Bendixen, a top Clinton pollster, on Latino and Black communities Steve assigns 2 Hortons. I can’t get excited about a pollster talking about stuff like this. Give him a reprimand and a Horton. If Hill doesn’t reprimand him, give her one too.

Hillary referred to “spadework” on the Today show Give me a break. We all get a Horton for even talking about this.

Bill Clinton referred to Obama as a “kid” I give Donna Brazile a Horton on this one. Because I followed everybody’s hyperlinks on this and can’t fine Bill Clinton using the word “kid” anywhere. Will re-evaluate if somebody shows me. Till then, we all get a Horton for even talking about this.

Jesse Jackson Jr., in the wake of the New Hampshire primary, saying that the African American voters in South Carolina would should analyze Ms. Clinton’s tears for her appearance and lack of tears for hurricane Katrina victims. Steve omitted this incident, but I have to include it due to the fact that Jesse is a campaign official (Obama Co-Chair) and this really did sound like a prepared statement that he likely cleared with Obama; and I haven’t heard Obama disavow it. Jesse dishonestly claimed Hillary was speaking of her appearance and he specifically said encouraged South Carolina’s African American votes to consider that she did not cry for Katrina, a hurricane that hit African American especially hard. That is pathetic. I assign 10 Hortons to Jesse and 7 directly to Obama for blatantly injecting race into the campaign. If Obama has disavowed this statement, reduce his Horton assignment to 3.

Posted by: little ole jim on January 14, 2008 at 8:34 PM | PERMALINK

"It's not. But part of this story is that MLK could not realize his dream on his own --- we agree that the point she was trying to make is that Obama cannot realize his dream on his own. Her comments are arguing that if MLK were made president he wouldn't have had the "extraordinary level of competence" needed to complete his dream. How can we even know that? I'm sorry, but yeah, I hear it as insulting."


How on earth did you infer that she was talking about MLK being president? She was just saying that King needed Johnson's help to persuade Congress to vote for civil rights legislation. She clarified that point on MTP yesterday.

I think that you are reading way too much into what she said.

Posted by: Susan on January 14, 2008 at 8:40 PM | PERMALINK

I also think that is the Obama camp, not the Hillary camp, that has injected the aura of racism into the nomination struggle. I agree that the Obama camp has been unfairly morphing comments made by the Clintons to sound like they are about race. I find absolutely NO EVIDENCE that the Clintons are racists --quite to the contrary -- and there is also NO EVIDENCE, I can see, (Kevin's List of "coincidences" notwithstanding) that the Clinton camp is making an appeal for the racist vote. I do, however, agree that the Hillary camp is making an appeal for the black vote. . . . So is Obama. So is Edwards. If appealing to the black vote is "racism," then that's an acceptable form of racism currently in this country.

The charge of "race baiting" is overblown and unfair. For instance, this BET incident (the alleged "coincidence") that Kevin alludes to as fueling his decision not to vote for Hillary, is a good example. There is absolutely nothing racially offensive in the comments that BET's Mr. Johnson made defending the Clintons' record-- which the Obama camp apparently read (for no explained reason) as making a veiled snipe at Obama's teenage drug use. In defence, Mr. Johnson (a black man) gave the very plausable explanation that the characterization the Obama camp gave his comments is a false perception.

In any event, no matter whose reading of Mr. Johnson's comments you accept, the BET incident is NOT RACIST in nature. And, it is unfair to put this incident in the "race baiting" category." Please, reconsider again, Kevin.

Posted by: Erika S on January 14, 2008 at 9:46 PM | PERMALINK

How on earth did you infer that she was talking about MLK being president? She was just saying that King needed Johnson's help to persuade Congress...

The analogy was:
Obama MLK (the "dreamers")
Clinton LBJ (the "doers")
When this analogy is used to make the argument "Clinton is a better presidental material that Obama," the invited analogy is "LBJ is better presidential material than MLK." *shrug*

Posted by: Dagome on January 14, 2008 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

I find absolutely NO EVIDENCE that the Clintons are racists --quite to the contrary -- and there is also NO EVIDENCE, I can see, (Kevin's List of "coincidences" notwithstanding) that the Clinton camp is making an appeal for the racist vote.

Talk about disingeneous. Where, where oh where has anyone made the charge that the Clintons are racists? Or that they are after the racist vote? Where? Where? I've seen no suggestion of it whatsoever. It might be nice if you addressed the issue at hand. Which is the suggestion that the Clintons have been trying to box Mr. Obama in, to get him to respond in a way that would stop him being the post-black candidate. Shortstop has it right. When a candidate of color gets slapped with the "angry black man looking for racism everywhere" label, he loses white support and becomes a fringe candidate.

I will assume that you're tired and read through the post and thread hastily and that it's not the case that you have ulterior motives.

Posted by: snicker-snack on January 14, 2008 at 10:55 PM | PERMALINK

I can't believe you're saying this.

I had thought that the Cuomo remark had a racist tinge, until today when I got a chance to look at a partial transcript and saw that he clearly wasn't talking about Obama at all, but simply about the difference between retail and wholesale politics. His words could've been just as well referring to George Bush.

None of the other so-called "racist" remarks are even arguably racist.

It's true that the Shaheen and Johnson remarks about drug use were over the line and out of bounds, but that's not because they were "racist." Obama has admitted drug use; the remarks were specific to him, not a vague slur about his race. The reason that such attacks are always out of bounds is not because they're racist--although in the right connotation, drug user/dealer remarks COULD be racist--it's because Democrats, of all parties, can't afford to attack their candidates for youthful drug use. Too many of them have done it; too many of their consultants still burn a little from time to time.

Shaheen was fired, and appropriately so.

Nothing was done to Johnson, because nothing can be done. He was an invited helper, not a paid staffer. More to the point, he coded his words so that they could be denied. Sure, his denial is not believable, but think about it: if you invite this famous guy to do you a favor, in the course of which he says something controversial which he then lies about, can you, the person for whom the favor was just done, publicly call this guy out as a liar when you have ZERO actual evidence that he lied? I just can't see that happening. A guy does you a favor, you don't turn around and bite him when you can't prove he did you wrong.

Of course, Mr. and Mrs. Clinton's remarks were not even arguably racist, and it's ridiculous to suggest that they were. In fact, anybody who rides that "fairy tale" train is showing their own flag, and it's not a pretty one.

So what' left? Who actually said something racist or race-baiting? Explain this to me.

Posted by: Trickster on January 14, 2008 at 11:16 PM | PERMALINK

I have to say as another sitting on the outside of all this like snicker-snack that what I see most in all of this regarding the "Clinton pattern" is projection and assumption. The one comment that sounds at all racially tainted if used specifically in reference to Obama was "shuck and jive", however it was not used in a context in which any reasonable person can argue it was aimed at Obama, at least not without assuming motivation which is a very dangerous thing to do and then treat as fact without something that corroborates it (as in document like the Obama list linked earlier in this thread or a statement by the person in question that would confirm it was intended so, etc) in that instance which I do not find here. The Bill Clinton comment is clearly being mangled by Obama's people; I've heard/seen that for myself despite it also being very clear in context for what it is. As to the MLK comment, given she was responding to his use of the MLK reference first and the fact she made a point of stating Kennedy's "hopefulness" in trying to get Civil Rights legislation passed it seems more like projection and assumption to claim it was race baiting of any type.

The problem with looking out for code words is that it becomes all too easy to see them where they are not because one sees/feels/perceives/projects it, and that is something all humans have to watch out for in themselves wherever applied. I found much the same in a lot of the sexist complaints being made by Clinton supporters not long ago, although in her case I must add it was clearly being fueled with major accelerant by the MSM peaking on the night of NH. I will say though that I have found a lot of the online supporters on both sides getting way Way WAY too far out into the realm of assumption as fact for my tastes in terms of both accusations of sexism/racism and/or requiring the other side's candidate to denounce example "x", "y", "z" etc to prove they aren't deliberately doing it. Clearly this is not excluding this blog, which I have been lurking at again for a while as I have in other major progressive blogs, but I've been staying out of it because unless I see a truly compelling reason to I try to stay out of getting into American political discussions when it comes to who to elect. Who has better policies and who or what gains/loses in those policies is one thing, saying who you should vote for is quite another. I made an exception for the 2004 Presidential election because I felt the damage done not just to America but long term global stability and safety were he not defeated was sufficient reason to do so.

I think a lot of the partisans on both the Clinton and Obama sides out there (as in not simply this blog) need to watch how telepathic they are being in treating presumed motive as fact about their opponent. A certain amount of speculation and concern regarding strategic operations is one thing, even suggesting that this *MAY* be what is going on even is reasonable, but to start acting like it is cast in stone hard fact without the necessary evidence that would convince someone detached/uninvolved looking it over that there is sufficient to say so strikes me as just looking to go over the cliff of rationality/reality. I am glad to be seeing both Obama and Clinton trying to cool this down, I hope it works, because ultimately it will be the GOP that gains from it and that is not good for anyone except those the GOP looks after, and the last decade should have made who that is perfectly clear by now. None of the main candidates in the Dems, warts and all with each of them duly considered, is unfit to hold the office, one can differ about in what order of superiority of fitness each has but that they meet the basic threshold of fitness should not be lost sight of.

Your media is clearly trying to play up any and all signs of conflict they can find or if need be invent. There is more than enough evidence out there from the last several elections just how much the Dems get a double standard approach/treatment from the MSM pundit class living/working/operating inside the beltway. That makes it that much easier for misinterpretations to be first reported and fixed in people's minds so that by the time they get the original context they are already convinced they know what it really means and therefore the context is somehow just an excuse. Combined with the clearly high level of political interest in the electorate going by the turnouts so far as well as in terms of fundraising and volunteers on the Dem side where emotions will run high by this point it seems to me it is too easy for outsiders (media, GOPers) to stir the pot and create/spread the misunderstandings to the detriment of Dems generally.

Sorry for interjecting my opinion on this here, I really debated about doing so but I am getting worried enough by the level of projection I am seeing all around not to at least try to make this point in the hopes that maybe those that are so busy denouncing each other might stop to remember who the real enemy is and the real threat to your futures, that even the worst Dem choice this year is still going to be better for you than any of the GOPers, including I might add with the Supreme Court which could lose at least one more conservative judges in the next term or two. Putting a Dem nominated candidate through Dem Congress would really help offset the current conservative dominance as well as being ready in case it is one of the progressive judges that leaves the bench next.

Posted by: Scotian on January 14, 2008 at 11:28 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry for interjecting my opinion on this here

No, you made some excellent points. Thanks for taking the time and reminding us to look at the bigger picture.

Posted by: Swift Loris on January 14, 2008 at 11:37 PM | PERMALINK

Scotian,

Hillary Rodham Clinton would be a terrific Supreme Court justice.

Posted by: paxr55 on January 15, 2008 at 12:39 AM | PERMALINK

John Edwards for President -- Leadership without all the b.s.

Posted by: MarkH on January 15, 2008 at 12:52 AM | PERMALINK

go vote for obama you dumb son of a bitch. what. u think people will follow you?

you and ezra are dumb blabbing amateurs dont eve see whats going n...they trashed a ma like cuomo who has spent his life working low income housing and it was all bull shit. read the transcript you dumb son of a bitch!

Posted by: dem dem on January 15, 2008 at 1:28 AM | PERMALINK

Hi Scotian. What an excellent comment, as usual. How very nice to meet you here again. I too began commenting here again, only a few days ago, for the first time since the 2004 election. Actually, to confess the truth, I came, at least in part, looking for your calm, civilly stated insightful comments. They are needed. I'm glad you have returned.

Posted by: Erika S on January 15, 2008 at 2:31 AM | PERMALINK

I disagree that all references to Senator Obama's prior drug use are racist. (The implication that he was dealing drugs is, that he used drugs is not)
In his own book, Senator Obama admitted to using cocaine and implies he was on the path to being a pothead or junkie. He is the first presidential candidate to admit cocaine use. I doubt many Democrats under 40 care but it is not racist to bring up his drug use.

Posted by: FTP on January 15, 2008 at 2:40 AM | PERMALINK

Bob Johnson CLEARLY referenced Obama's teenage drug use. ~'when he was doin things in the neighborhood---and doin whatever he was doin'

Second, while Hillary's MLK comment was factually true,

CAn it be said that Clinton "Sister Souljah'd" Martin Luther King???

Posted by: sombrerofallout on January 15, 2008 at 5:23 AM | PERMALINK

correct quote; revised thought:

Re LBJ vs. MLK:
Hillary Clinton has nowhere near LBJ's legislative experience. For her to assign herself his status or experience is plainly ludicrous--even Barack Obama himself has MORE experience as a legislator than Hillary Clinton!

Worse, last night I saw Rep. John Lewis on the Newhour reduced to out-&-out lying about Bob Johnson's intent in slamming Barack:

("... since Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood –­ and I won’t say what he was doing, but he said it in the book")

Sad.

It's only when you realize that Sen. Clinton is no LBJ that it's clear Hillary just "Sister Souljah'd" Martin Luther King.

Posted by: sombrerofallout on January 15, 2008 at 5:43 AM | PERMALINK

I'm a Hillary Clinton supporter who will support Barack Obama if he wins the nomination. But...if Hillary loses, I will never be convinced that it wasn't the doing of the media (including lefty radio and internet media). I heard someone say on Sirius that "Obama has stayed above the fray." Well, of course, he's been able to stay above the fray because he has Joe Scarborough, Chris Matthews, Tucker Carlson, Mika Brezenzski, et al, doing his dirty work for him! They put him on a pedestal and made him "He Who Must Not Be Criticized." Any political attack against Obama is considered beyond acceptability but meanwhile, any rotten thing can be said about Hillary. Just imagine the media reaction if McCain's supporter had said, "how do we beat the 'racial slur"? There would have been a universal outcry but when its calling a woman a foul name, its no big deal.

That's really all you need to know about the difference in how these 2 campaigns have been treated.

Posted by: vdeputy on January 15, 2008 at 8:24 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin--You feel for it. You bought the "climb down" from Clinton in the follow-up post. That's the classic one-two: slime, and then "regret the negative tone" of the campaign, as if it came from nowhere. An early post was right: The whole point of this is to try to force Obama to run as an angry black man, and to throw him off message. And it's another reminder that there's absolutely nothing the Clintons won't do to win.

Posted by: Matt on January 15, 2008 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

Scotian: Your posts are always a pleasure. Wish we saw more of you.

Posted by: shortstop on January 15, 2008 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

Wish we saw more of you.

Thank you, I appreciate that sentiment a great deal. It's too bad that you don't have sense enough to direct the comment at me, but I'll take the praise and run with it.

Scotian, dear sir, you are right about the Clintons--they are the personification of evil and I couldn't have said it better myself. They want power, they covet power, they lust for it and yearn for it and they chase it like a cat chases a three legged mouse.

The problem is, they don't know what to do with it when they have it. And that's why Americans won't trust them anymore. Sure, they took care of their own class of fatcats and donors. Sure, they broke seventy or eighty laws a month while in office doing so. I get that. But their mad lust for power has left a bad taste in the mouths of Americans. I don't see that taste dissipating. I am disheartened that Mayor Guiliani has turned out to be a bust. He won't get the nomination and he is consigned to oblivion for being a one-note horn player. That one note was clear and demonstrative, but it falls flat in a time when a real leader has to play an entire song of fluency and skill. I fear a Democrat Presidency more and more, because my taxes will explode and my country will surrender to its enemies all at the same time. I must agitate for better things, and I must raise my voice to the heavens to be heard. I need a muse, a partner and a foil. I need a Colmes, sir. I need a Colmes. My kingdom for a Colmes!

In the interim, Mr. Scotian--you must join me. You must be my partner against stupidity and redneck tendencies. You must take up the sword and we'll run a Jolly Roger up the mast and tie down for a run of stormy seas. We must enliven, educate and inform--you can tell people what the 'liberals' think and I'll tell people what 'conservatives' think and it'll be just like an academic salon. I'm certain that you'll win a few and I'll win a few. It will be glorious and the screams of the insignificant specks who cling to the hem of our magnificent garments will not be heard because we'll smash them to pieces and roll on into the next topic, informed, witty, urbane, loquacious and literate all at the same time.

Join me.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on January 15, 2008 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

Shortstop:

Like I've said before, now that we have the GOP wannabe government up here my main attention has been focused on tracking it's actions and working towards it's defeat in the next election whenever that happens (the joy of minority governments, one never knows in advance when they will fall nor on what basis) so I don't have as much time to comment down here in the American scene that I once did. I do still though lurk a lot here and at other American blogs I have come to respect and enjoy so I am not unaware of what goes on. Indeed, I would not have dared to write the comment I did here if I were not doing so, unlike some people I do not consider talking out of one's hat and assuming facts to fit theory to make a very solid foundation upon which to observe, consider, and write about. I am just glad there are still some of the regulars from my heyday here who remember me, I was half afraid I would be called out as a newbie or a plant of some type with that comment...:)

Seriously though SS, from my perspective up here I am seeing a *LOT* of assuming motivations on both the Obama and Clinton sides regarding why each side is doing what it is doing as well as a lot of projection of intolerance (be it sexism or racism) into any comment which might possibly be twisted into such. The Clinton "fairy tale" being one good example, the "shuck and jive" being another given the relevant context and that it was talking about the value of primaries/caucuses in general and no specific candidate at all. The problem with looking for dog whistles and code words is that it is inherently a subjective evaluation much of the time, because what one person might see as code wording/dog whistling another may not and both sides can have a reasonable/legitimate argument/case to make for their side which in turn requires the assumption of motive, which as I said before I find very dangerous and a swift road to delusion land, especially when built upon one after another as the so called Clinton pattern looks to have been.

None of the major Dem candidates would be worse than any of the GOPers, no matter what happens in the primary, or so I would have thought even the love to get into circular firing squads contingent within the Dems would have come to understand after the past seven years of Bushco, especially seeing what has been happening to the USSC. So when I see supporters of either side suddenly ranting about how if the opponent wins the primary they won’t vote for them or that a GOPer would be preferable it really saddens me. For that is the voice of "if my side cannot win then a pox on all that did not make my person the winner" aka spite, and I hardly find that a progressive value/trait.

There is way too much confirmation bias involved in these charges even when the quotes are not being twisted/mangled by those who throw out the racism card from the Obama side and the sexist card on the Clinton side at least where each other is concerned (the MSM on the other hand is a whole other matter, especially regarding the sexism) and that is what I see as being the real problem here. When emotions are running as hot as they are at this time within each camp this becomes all to easy to treat such as fact instead of speculation, and that is something which always makes me very nervous to see, especially on the side I want to see win the next election, which is why I broke my silence/lurking last night and today.


Well, I will leave the odd comments here and there as this process continues this year, but until I see the conservative threat to my home removed that has to be my first priority as I would expect it to be for any American to pay more attention to defeating the GOP than in caring about Harper and his CPC. Take care and be well shortstop, nice to see/speak with you again.

Posted by: Scotian on January 15, 2008 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

*SIGH*

I see good old Normie hasn't changed a bit, just as dishonest and delusional as ever. Only Normie could manage to claim I was denouncing the Clintons as evil in what I wrote, it takes a special kind of delusionary mind to manage such, even when we are talking about GOP Trolletariat members. Thanks Normie for reminding me (and everyone else yet again) why you are a waste of time to read.

Posted by: Scotian on January 15, 2008 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

I see good old Normie hasn't changed a bit, just as dishonest and delusional as ever. Only Normie could manage to claim I was denouncing the Clintons as evil in what I wrote, it takes a special kind of delusionary mind to manage such, even when we are talking about GOP Trolletariat members. Thanks Normie for reminding me (and everyone else yet again) why you are a waste of time to read.

Why, you ungrateful bastard.

From now on, it's you versus me and Katie Bar the Door, sir.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on January 15, 2008 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

HA HA you all got played by Russert SUCKERS!!!!

Posted by: john john on January 15, 2008 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

Scotian,
Don't worry, Normie is "our special needs troll". Sounds like it is time for Kevin to send Inkblot up with a new basketful of meds.

Posted by: optical weenie on January 15, 2008 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

Cuomo's quote
Speaking Tuesday to the New York Post's Fred Dicker, whose show airs on Albany's Talk 1300 radio station, Cuomo said of the early primaries: "It's not a TV-crazed race. Frankly, you can't buy your way through."
He added later, "You have to sit down with 10 people in a living room. You can't shuck and jive at a news conference; you can't just put off reporters, because you have real people looking at you, saying 'answer the question.'"

""The attorney general was clearly saying that Iowa and New Hampshire were important primaries because the candidates could not duck the tough questions," said Cuomo spokesman Jeffrey Lerner. "He clearly meant no offense to either candidate because he was praising both in the interview. 'Bob and weave' would have been a better phrase; that's certainly all the attorney general meant.""

It wasn't a comment about African-Americans or Obama at all, but just another media distortion. Imagine that.

….Your media is clearly trying to play up any and all signs of conflict they can find or if need be invent…Scotian at 11:28 PM
Completely true. I watched Russert v Clinton lsst night and have seen the same distortions from MSNBC, Fox, CNN, NBC, CBS, and ABC. The tarts that put the face to the American media are rabidly anti-Clinton and strongly anti-Democratic. They have no compunction about misquoting, truncating quotes, inventing quotes, and spinning their own stories just as they did in 2000 and 2004. The story should be the lies told by the media.
…..it's clear Hillary just "Sister Souljah'd" Martin Luther King. sombrerofallout at 5:43 AM
Nonsense. Her quote points out that it takes a responsive government. Anti-war protests were huge and anti-war opinion greater, yet with a government that doesn't give a damn, nothing resulted. There are few pols in American history that had LBJ's abilities to press congress to his will and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was an incredible piece of work on his part.
...From now on, it's you versus me and Katie Bar the Door…. ab-Norman Rogers at 11:26 AM
Are you running around with Kattie's door knob up your butt again? Didn't the doctor warn you the last time? Posted by: Mike on January 15, 2008 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

"Scotian,
Don't worry, Normie is "our special needs troll". Sounds like it is time for Kevin to send Inkblot up with a new basketful of meds."
Posted by: optical weenie on January 15, 2008 at 12:01 PM

Oh, I know exactly who and what he is, I am an old timer at this blog who hasn't posted much here in the past couple of years, but prior to that I was quite the active commentator here for a couple of years. Normie and I have had our run-ins in the past and while he always manufactured his victory reality generally had him on the losing side, in other words the same as it is today. Thanks though for the intention, it was well mannered if unnecessary in my case.

Posted by: Scotian on January 15, 2008 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

the "shuck and jive" being another [good example] given the relevant context and that it was talking about the value of primaries/caucuses in general and no specific candidate at all.

Scotian, I appreciate all the valuable insights in your posts, but want to take issue with this one despite now being heartily sick of and fairly depressed by this entire topic.

I am not sure why people keep arguing that because Cuomo didn't specifically identify Obama, he wasn't referring to him. "Shuck and jive" is a phrase with a long and shameful history of denigrating black men, specifically black men. It's not a phrase that's been used, except in extremely rare cases, to refer to anyone but black men. It's also not in common usage any more, particularly by someone Cuomo's age; one has to work fairly hard to get it into conversation.

Cuomo supports Clinton; her only real challenger at the time Cuomo made this statement is a black man. It strains credulity that Cuomo didn't say this on purpose to refer to Obama while maintaining deniability. If he didn't, the only other explanation is an appalling tone deafness that nothing in Cuomo's record has duplicated.

I am not suggesting that Clinton set him up to say this or endorsed his remarks ahead of time. But I am disinclined to let Cuomo off the hook for what was a spectacularly stupid thing to say. Unlike some of the other remarks being lumped into this discussion, this one is completely, fully and in-your-face racial.

Posted by: shortstop on January 15, 2008 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

Normie and I have had our run-ins in the past and while he always manufactured his victory reality generally had him on the losing side, in other words the same as it is today.

Why, that's an outrage, sir.

Look, I was a bit hasty earlier. I'll...I'll apologize if you agree to join me in a semi-evil and exclusive partnership that runs roughshod over the bobos that post here. You can lurk in the background and I'll handle the insults. I'll back off if you want to take seventeen paragraphs to say that you like a ham and cheese sandwich.

What do you say, old comrade? Shall we join hands and march to the sound of the guns?

Posted by: Norman Rogers on January 15, 2008 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

SS:

The problem I have with that approach is that it requires a level of assumption of motivation without any actual supporting evidence aside from the perception of the recipient. As I said before I tend to get a little uncomfortable when I see that. Yes, he could have used a different phrasing to make the same point, but does that make it automatic that what he was trying to do was somehow make a subtle dig at Obama? That is where I run into trouble with it. If the context had anything to do with naming specific or even a subgroup of primary candidates then I might be willing to go with the notion that this was some sort of racial dog whistle, but the way it reads to me is the way I said earlier.

While I am more than sympathetic to the concept of how words can be used to hurt others, I also know that it is very easy to read more into these things when we are dealing with a touchy topic, and if there is a touchier topic in American culture/politics than race I don't know what it is. "Shuck and jive" carried the exact meaning to fit within the point being made by the person in question, the fact it has roots in AA culture does not automatically make it a dog whistle unless one is equally willing to argue that terms/phrases taken from other cultures that once held only negative connotations but over time this was weakened are dog whistles of some kind when they are used whenever a representative of that culture could be seen to be within the group it is applied to. Is it an unusual comment to use, yes, but is it inherently race baiting on its own without any pointing to a specific person when one is talking about a generic group as was the case in this example? That is where I have to disagree, there needs to be more than just its presence alone, there needs to be some indicator towards the specific candidate in question, which I do not think the original comment meets the threshold for.

I hope this helps explain why I cannot agree with your interpretation here, I am not trying to be difficult about it but this is something that really worries me to be seeing. Remember though, until I was able to see the comment in context it was the one example I had seen that did appear to have race baiting overtones because it is rooted in AA culture, but as I have said so many times before context is critical in trying to determine meaning, and in this case I do think the context defines the meaning enough that to classify it as a dog whistle/code word is assuming more than can reasonably be done. I will though freely admit it was not the best choice of phrases to use, especially given the racial sensitivity in America especially with the first credible candidate for President that is black.

Even though for the sake of argument that it was a racial code word, then it is about the only example of such in the general list that "the pattern" people have been talking about since Iowa, and one data point does not a pattern make. Not to mention that claiming he did it with the explicit permission/desires of Hillary and/or Bill Clinton is again assuming something which has no specific evidence pointing to it except the confirmation bias of the listener. Which in turn weakens significantly the argument that there is an orchestrated race baiting campaign going on by the Clintons based on that pattern as well as citing that pattern as evidence to support the idea that the shuck and jive comment was intended as race baiting. Indeed, using one to prove the other seems a bit too close to circular logic for me.

Like you I am not exactly thrilled to be going into this in such detail, but you did ask and since you are someone who I have always had respect for as a commentator I am willing to respond. However, on this specific issue this is as far as I am willing to take it, if you find you cannot agree with me I hope you can at least see where I am coming from and that it is based in reasonable grounds, even if you think I am wrong in this case, in other words agree to disagree without either side losing any respect for the other for their position. I know I have no trouble with that in this case, and to be honest I would be more than a little surprised if you did.

NR:

To remind you that I don't engage with you as a rule gets tedious, I think I will borrow Colbert's approach by saying you are dead to me from this moment on. You want to talk to yourself while pretending to try to talk/engage me from this point onward go right ahead, you already do do the looking foolish bit quite effectively.

Posted by: Scotian on January 15, 2008 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

if you find you cannot agree with me I hope you can at least see where I am coming from and that it is based in reasonable grounds, even if you think I am wrong in this case, in other words agree to disagree without either side losing any respect for the other for their position.

Always.

Posted by: shortstop on January 15, 2008 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

To remind you that I don't engage with you as a rule gets tedious, I think I will borrow Colbert's approach by saying you are dead to me from this moment on. You want to talk to yourself while pretending to try to talk/engage me from this point onward go right ahead, you already do do the looking foolish bit quite effectively.

So that's a maybe? A quantifiable maybe?

You take a day or so--ruminate at length on it. Let me know what you think.

As always, I admire your ability to personify petrified wood.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on January 15, 2008 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

SS:

Cool.

Posted by: Scotian on January 15, 2008 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK
Oh, I know exactly who and what he is.

Well...not so sure about that.

Posted by: little ole jim on January 15, 2008 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

SS: as one who has grown up around world class practitioners of racial innuendo and putdown, I am pretty quick to hear "it", as well as the possibility of "it". I imagine living in the Windy City has exposed you to a good bit of Black language and culture as well as many of the negative code words.

My impression is that my first impression is correct 90 percent of the time. The 10 percent gives me pause. I remember one particular incident when, as a young man, I incorrectly assigned a negative racial motivation. It was embarrassing, an experience to be avoided.

From afar, I can’t know for sure. I don’t know Cuomo. I don’t know how natural that phrase may be to him. I don’t know a lot of things about this incident. But the transcript is what it is. The reporter’s reaction is what it is. Karlin said that what Cuomo said was “"so far removed, temporally and contextually, from any discussion of Obama" that he didn't hear it as a reference to Obama at all.

So, the most I can acknowledge is the possibility of intentional putdown. I am not willing to go out on a limb, as some Obama supporters have, and call it a racial putdown. I am not willing to be wrong about that. Because when you are wrong about that, you are as wrong as…. Well, leave it at that.

Posted by: little ole jim on January 15, 2008 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

I am not willing to go out on a limb, as some Obama supporters have, and call it a racial putdown.

You are, however, willing to go out on the limb of assuming that all those calling it a racial putdown are Obama supporters?

Well, leave it at that. I will, anyway.

Posted by: shortstop on January 15, 2008 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK

There are no accidents in politics. Bill Clinton takes Bob Johnson "at his word." Please. Bill Clinton is a pig.

Posted by: lastly on January 16, 2008 at 6:33 AM | PERMALINK

Good question, and the answer is no. I'm not even willing to assume that commenters on this thread who present themselves as Obama supporters are really Obama supporters. Too many games being played. Too many people trying to make both Obama and Clinton look bad.

BTW, I take your comments as legitimate. I think you know that.

Posted by: little ole jim on January 16, 2008 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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