2008 Presidential Election, Race and Racism
Professor Vernellia Randall
Speaking Truth to Power!

Obama Played the Race Card

 

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Tayor Marsh
2008-01-11 15:55:12

The Obama campaign started playing the race card immediately after Obama lost New Hampshire with Jackson Jr., then upped the dialogue with Dyson, going further with [a] press release. Playing the race card before South Carolina? It fits right in with the ugly politics that is regularly seen in that state every time the presidential primaries roll around.

Jesse Jackson, Jr. set it up (video) on MSNBC the morning after Mr. Obama's surprising loss in New Hampshire.

But those tears also have to be analyzed. They have to be looked at very, very carefully in light of Katrina, in light of other things that Mrs. Clinton did not cry for, particularly as we head to South Carolina where 45% of African-Americans who participate in the Democratic contest, and they see real hope in Barack Obama.

(snip)

We saw something very clever in the last week of this campaign coming out of Iowa, going into New Hampshire, we saw a sensitivity factor. Something that Mrs. Clinton has not been able to do with voters that she tried in New Hampshire.

Not in response to voters -- not in response to Katrina, not in response to other issues that have devastated the American people, the war in Iraq, we saw tears in response to her appearance. So her appearance brought her to tears, but not hurricane Katrina.

The wind up came on "Hardball" with Obama supporter Michael Eric Dyson, when he began pushing the Tom Bradley effect, though he was by no means the only one:

DYSON: Yes, yes. He was mayor of Los Angeles, running for governor of California. And people said by an overwhelming, you know, majority, Yes, we‘re going to vote for him, yes, he‘s going to—and everybody predicted he would win. And then when they went into the polls, into the booth, they did not vote for him.

So here, I think, with Obama, the possibility—I‘m not saying it‘s a necessity, I‘m not even saying it‘s a probability, but the possibility that New Hampshire voters, after seeing Obama‘s swagger, so to speak, from his confidence because of his Iowa victory, may have rejected him, repudiated him, or at least had second thoughts or become skeptical about pulling the lever, so to speak, for a black man. ... ..

BUCHANAN: All right. Look, I think that the Obama spinners and the media are trying to explain away why they got egg all over their face. And by doing this, you are tarnishing Hillary‘s victory and you are tarnishing the Democratic...

DYSON: ... ... .. The reality is this, that in a particular race for a heated debate over a very powerful victory like the presidency, certainly race comes into play. I‘m not suggesting that it is the central line here. I‘m suggesting that it plays a role and that despite the fact that women—I agree that Hillary was being pounced on in a very serious and severe fashion, and women identify with her. But that doesn‘t mean that women who identify with Hillary Clinton... (snip) ... .. (snip)

DYSON: I agree with all that. Look, I agree with everything you just said. All I‘m suggesting is that—that even through her tears, I‘m saying the sentiment that was being expressed, because of her, you know, tiredness or verklempt moment, as you talk about, was also the articulation of an idea that I find troublesome, that is to suggest that, I am the only person, I‘m going to get it right, he‘s going to get it wrong, and there‘s an implicit racial subtext...

This came amidst a comment by Senator Clinton about MLK, which according to Politico's Roger Simon had one Obama staffer saying, "Go ask black people what they think of that statement." Josh Marshall has what I believe is the definitive smackdown on the misunderstanding of its meaning. But the quote also has been truncated throughout the traditional media and the blogosphere, with Clinton's subsequent explanation going unmentioned. From Morning Joe, though this is a rough transcript, this is Clinton's statement clarifying her original remark:

SCARBOROUGH: It was actually a Lloyd Benson moment. is that what you were saying, senator, you're no Jack Kennedy?

HRC: Well he was using the comparison to criticize me. I mean as I understand his argument, it had to do with, well, president Kennedy and Dr. King gave great speeches because, you know, I've been trying to raise the point that there's a difference between rhetoric and reality and between talk and action. And, of course, Jack Kennedy was in the congress for 14 years. He was a war hero. He had done so much by the time he ran for president. And Dr. King had been gassed and beaten and jailed as the leader of a movement that revolutionized America. And when he gave what I think is one of the greatest speeches in world history, the "I have a dream" speech, if that's all it had been, a speech, we would have remembered it, but it wouldn't have changed lives. Instead, he worked with President Johnson to actually get the civil rights act passed and the voting rights act passed, and so I think that, yes, speeches are important. They can be inspirational. They can lift our hearts. But they've got to be anchored in what comes next. What's the follow-up? What do you do after the cameras are off and the people have left. And, you know, I've given lots of speeches, and some people even think some of them occasionally are inspiring, but what I try to do is to make it clear that I'm going to be there for the long run. I won't give up on health care. I won't give up on energy and the economy. I'm going to be there. And we're going to slowly make progress together.

There isn't anyone who has studied this era, let alone who lived through it, that doesn't know that John F. Kennedy was moved to action through the direct influence of Dr. King. I've written about it at length. Only the most craven cynic would believe Hillary Clinton doesn't know, understand and respect the historic role Dr. King played, as well as the important part of President Johnson.

Hillary Clinton has been at the epicenter of minority politics from the start by virtue of her generation and her political passions. Circa 1960s, quoting Clinton's book, Living History, page 22-23:

... We visited black and Hispanic churches in Chicago's inner city for exchanges with their youth groups.

In discussions we had sitting around church basements, I learned that, despite obvious differences in our environments, these kids were more life me than I ever could have imagined. They also knew more about what was happening in the civil rights movement in the South. I had only vaguely heard of Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther KIng, but these discussion sparked my interest.

... .. Dr. King's speech was entitled "Remaining Awake Through a Revolution." Until then, I had been dimly aware of the social revolution occurring in our country, but Dr. King's words illuminated the struggle taking place and challenged our indifference: "We now stand on the border of the Promised Land of integration. The old order is passing away and a new one is coming in. We should all accept this order and learn to live together as brothers in a world society, or we will all perish together." ... ..

Dr. King's assassination was not only real for Clinton, but it shaped the way she began to engage.

... .. Ms. Rodham, who met Dr. King after a speech in Chicago in 1962, had admired his methodical approach to social change, favoring it over what she considered the excessively combative methods of groups like the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, or S.N.C.C., pronounced snick.

“Just because a person cannot approve of snicks’ attitude toward civil disobedience does not mean he wishes to maintain the racial status quo,” Ms. Rodham wrote as a freshman to Mr. Jones, the Methodist minister.

After Dr. King’s assassination provoked riots in cities and unrest on campuses, Ms. Rodham worried that protesters would shut down Wellesley (not constructive). She helped organize a two-day strike (more pragmatic) and worked closely with Wellesley’s few black students (only 6 in her class of 401) in reaching moderate, achievable change — such as recruiting more black students and hiring black professors (there had been none). Eschewing megaphones and sit-ins, she organized meetings, lectures and seminars, designed to be educational.

“I was rooted in a political approach that understood that you can’t just take to the streets and make change in America,” Mrs. Clinton said in an interview. “You can’t just give a speech and expect people to fall down and agree with you.” ... ..

In Turmoil of ’68, Clinton Found a New Voice

Fast forward to 1972, page 57 of Living History:

My primary assignment in the summer of 1972 was to gather information about the Nixon Administration's failure to enforce the legal ban on granting tax-exempt status to the private segregated academies that had sprung up in the South to avoid integrated publish schools. The academies claimed they were created simply in response to parent deciding to form private schools; it had nothing to do with court-ordered integration of the public schools. I went to Atlanta to meet with lawyers and civil rights workers who were compiling evidence that, on the contrary, proved the academies were created solely for the purpose of avoiding the constitutional mandate of the Supreme Court's decisions, starting with Brown v. Board of Education.

During the McGovern campaign, Clinton was offered the opportunity heading up the voter registration drive in Texas (Living History, pg. 58), which obviously focused on registering Hispanic voters, as well as other minorities.

Using the race card against Hillary Clinton is laughable.

What it reveals is the signs of abject desperation by Mr. Obama and his campaign, which is obviously hoping to inflame African Americans in South Carolina in order to push him across the finish line to victory. Because after the New Hampshire loss, Obama is now under real pressure and simply has to win in South Carolina. The loss in New Hampshire knocked them back into a defensive crouch and they're going overtly negative on the one issue that is sure to inflame everyone: race. Obviously, they think it's an ace for them so they're going to hit that emotional card and hit it hard.

Now, after Jackson and Dyson, here comes the campaign's final pitch. It's an email being forwarded around that I got from a reader who has access, so I'm obviously not the only one receiving it. I haven't seen it posted so far, but it's important so I'm offering it in part. One caveat, I cannot confirm that this came straight from the Obama camp, so I'm presenting it as received. There was no "to" and "from" at the top, but the body of the email printed below is exactly as I received it. Notice the signature line at the bottom. The email sent to me offers the original email under the name of Obama's South Carolina Press Secretary. Someone who forwarded it originally either forgot or intentionally left on Obama's South Carolina Press Secretary's name and information. I have taken her cell phone number and direct Obama campaign number off.

... --snip-- ... ...

MARTIN LUTHER KING / LYNDON JOHNSON COMPARISON

Clinton, Criticizing Obama For Promising "False Hope" Said That While MLK Jr. Spoke On Behalf Of Civil Rights, President Lyndon Johnson Was The One Who Got Legislation Passed: "It Took A President To Get It Done." Clinton rejoined the running argument over hope and "false hope" in an interview in Dover this afternoon, reminding Fox's Major Garrett that while Martin Luther King Jr. spoke on behalf of civil rights, President Lyndon Johnson was the one who got the legislation passed. ... .. [Politico, 1/7/08; Video]

Clinton Introducer Said JFK Gave Hope, But Was Assassinated. Clinton introducer: "If you look back, some people have been comparing one of the other candidates to JFK and he was a wonderful leader, he gave us a lot of hope but he was assassinated and Lyndon Baines Johnson actually did all his work and got the republicans to pass all those measures." [HRC, Dover, NH, 1/7/08] AUDIO ATTACHED

NELSON MANDELA

Bill Clinton Implied Hillary Clinton Is Stronger Than Nelson Mandela. "I have been blessed in my life to know some of the greatest figures of the last hundred years. […] I go to Nelson Mandela's birthday party every year and we're still very close. […] But if you said to me, 'You've got one last job for your country but it's hazardous and you may not get out with life and limb intact and you have to do it alone except I'll let you take one other person, and I had to pick one person whom I knew who would never blink, who would never turn back, who would make great decisions […] I would pick Hillary.'" [ABC News, 1/7/08; Audio]

DRUG USE

Clinton's NH Campaign Chair Raised The Youthful Drug Use Of Obama And Said It Would "Open The Door To Further Queries On The Matter." Clinton's Campaign Issued A Statement Distancing Themselves From Shaheen's Comments And Shaheen Issued A Statement Saying That He "Deeply Regret[s] The Comments." ... .. "There are so many openings for Republican dirty tricks. ... .. Clinton campaign spokesman Phil Singer had issued a statement asserting that "these comments were not authorized or condoned by the campaign in any way." And Shaheen himself issued a statement: "I deeply regret the comments I made today and they were not authorized by the campaign in any way." [ABC News, 12/12/07]

... ... --snip-- ... ...

Amaya Smith
South Carolina Press Secretary
Obama for America

803-------- x ---
cell: 803--------

The area code is for Columbia, South Carolina.

This is exactly how campaigns push their narrative to the press. I don't get Obama's material and they don't return my emails, but I know how this is done.

 

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