Sunday, January 13, 2008

Race Issues May Damage Democrats

There's trouble brewing within the Democratic Party. Dems may not want to think so, but the pot is beginning to simmer and could turn to a full roiling boil by the time they have a nominee. And if it boils over, there's going to be a big mess to clean up.

The issue is not the unexpected loss of Barack Obama in New Hampshire, although I am quite sure that hasn't set well with those in Obama's camp. It's more of a perception problem than anything else, and it centers around what some African-Americans are perceiving as divisive tactics that threaten to divide the party, specifically along racial lines.

From the Politico comes this story:

A series of comments from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, her husband and her supporters are spurring a racial backlash and adding a divisive edge to the presidential primary as the candidates head south to heavily African-American South Carolina.


Naturally, some of the most vocal critics of these perceived tactics are none other than those that generally benefit from acts that could be taken as racial, but usually aren't. Finding out his now famous "fairy tale" remarks were getting a lot of wear and tear on black radio talk shows, the former president called into Al Sharpton's radio show to answer the critics that tried to spin his remarks, heard everywhere in cyberspace.

Jesse Jackson Jr. - co-chairman of Obama's national campaign - has never missed an opportunity to make a mountain of a molehill to capture publicity that otherwise would not be there, following in his father's footsteps. Here is his sound bite statement of the day:

“Following Barack Obama’s victory in Iowa and historic voter turnout in New Hampshire, the cynics unfortunately have stepped up their efforts to decry his uplifting message of hope and fundamental change,” he said in a statement.

I heard the statement made by Bill Clinton and I am not often willing to defend him, particularly when it comes to ideology and policy. But in this case, I cannot see where it was intended to be a snarky remark on Obama's campaign. It was a snarky remark about how some - like Jesse Jr. - have hammered the Clintons, while conveniently forgetting things that would make their candidate look hypocritical.

I mean, let's be fair about this. Here is the text that led up to the fairy tale remark:

“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. This whole thing is the biggest fairytale I’ve ever seen."


Look folks, this is fair criticism.

In a civil election campaign process, this should be followed up by Obama's supporters refuting the content of the remarks, not the latent racial undertones and intentions. But instead we get subtle (and some not so subtle) responses with partially hidden accusations from those that are well-known for promoting complaints of racism, where there often is none.

Hillary hasn't escaped the political prosecution, either. She should leave the history of the civil rights lessons out of campaigning. I'd rather hear more about the socialist agenda and the the political scheming she plans to do in order to come up with the money to pay for this proposed political shopping spree, of hers.

I can't hide it, and it's certainly it's no big secret. I am not a fan of either of these three front-running Dems. But petty is petty here. The next step will certainly irritate the Clintons, if the two sides let thing thing spiral out of control. It's never-ending, you know?

Better yet, let me say it like this: I can think of a million things for these people to criticize each other on, but not race, not when it's not warranted. Bill Clinton is supposed to be the "first black president". He's had his accolades from everyone. Now that a man with African heritage is running, does that somehow discount what Clinton has done in the world of race relations?

At least Hillary is telling us what she wants to screw up. Obama is talking about hope and vision, faith, hope, and charity (of the government-type). Who knows, what he means? He will discuss policy after he gets the nomination, I suppose. Just take a seat.

If he wants to criticize fairly he could say: Hillary is a automated technocrat that wants more government, more expenses, and more analogies of all the makings of a Robin Hood government. But, he won't, because the truth be told, it's probably him too.

He could also say: She's right on "it takes village". People do need other people for support systems, and some of that comes from the government. But, when the village wants to have more rights over your children, your property, and your behaviors that affect no one else but you - you have to say something. But that's probably him too.

Well, it's not me.

For the love of Pete, I cannot understand why Dems didn't get behind Biden or Dodd. (Note-I am not their biggest fans.) I am sure both would blow a lot money on crazy domestic programs that create more jobs, for government. But, they get it right way more than the current three (soon to be two) leading candidates do, especially on foreign policy.

So anyway. There you have it.

Instead of arguing about specifics, we have activists in two very huge and significant demographics in the party, battling each other for power. It's bound to get uglier as time goes on. But hang on a while longer, because Super Tuesday will be here soon enough (and the stakes will likely be higher than ever). That's where the damage may become irreparable and the party wounded.

Have a good supply of chips and dip, the show has yet to start.




Note - At the time I wrote this post (for posting today), the only real solid stories were the ones I linked to in the post. Since then, the following stories have come out, further feeding the fire that is currently erupting in this area:

Clinton camp hits Obama | Attacks 'painful' for black voters

Clinton Sounds Off On Backlash

Get ready. I am sure there will be more before the campaign is over.



UPDATE:
There is more.

Hillary on Meet The Press.

Playing the race card works. At least the latest ABC/WaPo poll reflects so. But it pays to be careful about these things, the polls had Obama cruising in NH.



5 comments:

Mustang said...

I agree the situation poses an interesting inter-party discourse. Your excellent summary and commentary is a “job well done.” I would like to make just one observation, however. No one can deny that Hillary Clinton has been an advocate for civil rights since her days in law school. She is vocal, consistent, and intensely active in a number of programs. Here is a woman clearly driven by social issues, and civil rights is but one.

Conversely, the only thing that either Dr. Jackson or Rev. Sharpton have ever accomplished is the creation of the so-called Rainbow Coalition — an organization that in my view comes dangerously close to breaking any number of anti-racketeering statutes. Both of these men are so focused on the negative aspects of American culture it is possible to argue that neither have ever adopted objective views on the issue of civil rights. In fact, “civil rights” is their bread and butter — it has made both of them rich beyond the wildest hopes of the average black family in the United States.

There was a time in this country when black Americans needed civil rights advocates; providence gave them people like Hillary Clinton — you know, white people who fought as hard for racial parity as any union private of the 20th Maine. There was also a time in this country when workers needed unions. I think we continue to need voices for equality, fairness, and safety even as we acknowledge that powerful unions ruined American industries, and Jackson and Sharpton are as much advocates for “black power” as were the so-called Black Panther organization.

People who run for political office do so with the understanding that they will become targets of criticism by opposing factions. It is equally fair for Obama to criticize Clinton. It is simply the way politics is done. Any candidate who cannot take that kind of heat has no business running for office. That said I find it almost astounding that Jackson-Sharpton find it necessary to defend Obama’s “blackness” in a matter so far removed from racial politics that it boggles the imagination. Actually, it speaks volumes about Jackson-Sharpton, and the politics of race in the United States. It doesn’t matter than Ms. Clinton has worked hard for civil parity — only that she now stands opposed to a black man whose record as a rights activist pales (no pun intended) in comparison to her own.

Of course, blacks will line up behind Obama for no other reason than he is black, and Hillary will have an up-hill battle to convince likely voters — who happen to be black — that her platform is the most cogent. The underlying truth is that blacks have always battled feminists for the attention of the American public. Do not think for a moment that Jackson-Sharpton isn’t aware of what’s at stake here: They will turn it into a race war that cannot help but make either of these two demagogues much, much wealthier.

Rocket said...

Excellent interpretation Mustang. Thus I don't need to add anything except to say that starting now every single sentence, every coma and exclamation point that comes out of the Clinton camp or out of a Clinton mouth is going to be dissected by these two - Sharpton and Jackson much in the same way that back in the 60's the press gave hell to John Lennon for Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.

It's unfortunate that the race, first on the Democratic side and if Obama wins the nomination, later for the race to the White house will revive the exploitation of old black white cleavages as Mustang said by a bunch of guys who have become much wealthier than the average Black American by exploiting this self serving division.

LASunsett said...

Mustang,

//Conversely, the only thing that either Dr. Jackson or Rev. Sharpton have ever accomplished is the creation of the so-called Rainbow Coalition — an organization that in my view comes dangerously close to breaking any number of anti-racketeering statutes.//

I don't know how much Al has to do with Rainbow Coalition/PUSH, but he has his share of troubles going on right now with his own little world. It seems he's under investigation again. As you may surmise, he's crying foul. And in all of that whining, he'll probably get off on some technicality.

Mustang said...

I read the story, LA — Here are my observations:

1) No journalist worth a spit would bother showing up for a Sharpton news conference.

2) There are only two reasons for an Al Sharpton news conference: he is accusing someone of racism, or he’s the target of an illegal investigation.

3) Every newsroom experiences a “slow day.”

4) This isn’t really a news story —it’s an update.

Greg said...

Funny - it seemed Obama was trying his best to keep race out of the campaign, at least for the party nomination. But that's no good for the race-baiters, as Mustang succinctly observes. Obama's about to find out that this country's "black leaders" won't let him run as a simple American. He has to be an AFRICAN-AMERICAN.