2/14/08 Myrtle Beach Sun News (S.C.) A8
Allow me to share with you a different perspective as to how race has been
used in this election. An agreement was struck between U.S. Rep. James
Clyburn and the Democratic National Committee. Under the terms of the
agreement, the DNC moved the S.C. primary on the calendar so that it would
precede Super Tuesday and focus extraordinary attention on the importance of
the primary. In exchange for this preferable scheduling, Clyburn promised
that he would stay neutral in the campaign and election.
The predominance of black voters in the S.C. Democratic Party was a major
reason to give South Carolina early input in the process. Clyburn's promise
to stay neutral was an acknowledgement of his strong political influence and
his ability to affect the outcome.
Clyburn broke his promise. When former President Clinton criticized the
voting record of Obama by calling [his claim he had consistently opposed the
Iraq War] a "fairy tale," Clyburn immediately called the media to announce
that he was going to respond to the comment. Clyburn suggested that these
comments were somehow a racial slur.
At that point, the media pounced on the story and by the end of the day, the
media had interviewed Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and dozens of other black
luminaries, all of whom were aired on TV to decry Clinton as "racist," even
though you had to read between the lines to find something he didn't say.
This story had legs and remained on TV for weeks before and after the S.C.
primary. The effect was immediate. Eighty percent of the S.C. black
population now believed the Clintons were racists. Not only did this conduct
by Clyburn cause Hillary to lose South Carolina in a landslide, but it has
propelled Obama nationally ever since. People all over the country believed
that attacks on Clinton.
The "fairy tale" comments were repeatedly played out of context to omit the
reference to the voting record. When talking about the Democratic race,
every other sentence begins with: "Ever since South Carolina." Since that
date, both Hillary and Bill Clinton have been repeatedly accused of playing
the race card and making the campaign mean and nasty. There is a reason why
Toni Morrison once called Bill Clinton the first black president. Up until
Clyburn's comments, the black community knew that the Clintons cared about
their needs and problems and worked for their betterment.
What Bill Clinton has learned is that you cannot attack the voting record of
a black candidate without it being turned around as racist. No one has ever
challenged the accuracy of Clinton's remarks about Obama's voting record on
Obama runs heavily on the fact that he opposed the war. But he was not in
Congress when the initial vote was taken, so we really do not know how he
would have voted. We do know that ever since he has been in Congress, every
vote he has cast has been in support of the war and he shares a war voting
record identical to that of Hillary Clinton. These are facts that get no
play in the media, and any attempt to bring them up will likely get you
labeled as racist. If Obama wins or loses this election, you can give a
great deal of credit to Clyburn. Every analysis and primary prediction
concedes to Obama every state with a high percentage of black voters. So
yes, Mr. Sunday, you and I can agree that race has become an important
factor in this election cycle.