Identity Politics

If you’ve been following political news lately you’ve probably heard about the fight over race between Obama and Clinton. Basically the Obama campaign, mostly through surrogates, is accusing the Clinton camp of being racist because of a few “selectively interpreted” things they said while on the stump. (You can see one of their ludacris examples here.

Of course the Obama camp is claiming that they have nothing to do with the race backlash the Clinton’s are facing, but in reality, they circulating talking points and press memo’s trying to turn a spark into a bonfire.

The Clinton’s of course are calling bullshit on the idea that they are racist, I mean Bill Clinton was the “first Black president”. After mostly staying on the defense, because of the sensitive nature of talking about race, Bob Johnson, the African American founder of BET, fired back with this shot to the knees

“As an African American, 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, when Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood that I won’t say what he was doing but he said it in his book… When they have been involved, to say that these two people would denigrate the accomplishment of civil rights marchers, men and women who were hosed, beaten and bled, and some died… To say and to expect us now all of a sudden to say we are attacking a black man. That kind of campaign behavior does not resonate with me or a guy that says I want to be a reasonable, likeable Sidney Poitier ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.’ And I’m thinking to myself, this ain’t a movie, Sidney.”

Ouch. The truth hurts. I’ve been saying the same thing though. It’s pretty insulting that

1. Obama is playing the race card to make up for his loss in New Hampshire. that he’s accusing the Clinton’s of being racist.

2. The idea that saying MLK wasn’t soley responsible for the civil rights movement, especially the legislative aspects of it. As I’ve said before, Martin Luther King built public support which galvanized democrats to take action. However, one they decided to take action, passing the civil rights act was a difficult almost impossible task which required arm twisting, politiking, and political savy. And even once the bill was passed in many ways it was a pyrrhic victory, as democrats lost nearly their entire southern voting bloc , which was previously their main stronghold. This is the reason why Republicans essential control the south and the significant electoral advantage that comes with it.


5 thoughts on “Identity Politics

  1. I know nothing about Obama’s campaign fueling the issue, but I think Hillary is being raked over the coals for saying something that is historically accurate. It is hard for me to say this because I am certainly no fan of either Bill or Hillary Clinton.

    As for the former President’s remarks. They were just ignorant. As a typically well-spoken communicator he should have known the impetus the “fairytale” comment would have for getting out of hand.

    On the other hand, the former President was maligning Barak Obama left and right in New Hampshire, but was doing so by pulling quotes out of context and in the most famous example he quite obviously was deleting a sentence that gave further definition to the one he was taking out of context.

    Rightly or wrongly, the Clintons are getting a good political taste of their own medicine from a candidate that they thought they would be able to write off by now. This election is not going to be a coronation for Mrs. Clinton. She will win the nomination but she is going to have to fight for every inch of it.

  2. Jason

    You make some good points. My thoughts:

    To the extent that you thnk the Clinton’s are taking Obama’s Iraq quote out of context, how is this “the Clinton’s getting a taste of their own medicine”? This at worst seems like something that all politicians do. Like when Barack Obama said, during Iowa, that the Clinton/Edward’s Health Care plan’s “punish people for being sick” because they have a mandate. Almost every health care expert from Paul Krugman to Ezra Klein called bullshit on Obama’s claim. And more importantly, Obama basically said his plan would fine people who don’t sign up right away.

    I think it’s fair game if people want to call bullshit on a politicians accusations, but I think it should be done for ALL politicians and not just one side.

    Thanks for reading!

    PS. In regards to “not being coronated” I believe it was Barack Obama who said if he won NH he would be the next president of the United States. A bit presumptious don’t you think? Just sayin…

  3. I’m just saying that the Clinton’s have perfected the game. They all refer to themselves as the “next President” of the United States. But don’t you agree that until Iowa, Hillary tried to work from the perspective of being the “default” nominee. I think that’s why the strategy changed in New Hampshire and the gloves came off. For what it’s worth, I don’t there’s a dimes worth of difference between Clinton, Edwards or Obama and how they would most likely govern.

  4. Even if the Clinton’s perfected the game, that still does not absolve Obama from violating his own vow to “change/clean up” politics. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t harp on Obama for spinning or for havig ties to lobbyist because Obama is not the first nor the last politician to do so.

    That’s not the point I’m trying to make. The point that I’m trying to make, and I think you’ll agree with me on this, is that Barack Obama is just a politician. Behind all of the glitz and glamor and hopes and dreams Obama is just a Senator with a catchy message who’s been in office for 2 years. There’s not transcendence there’s no “new politics”.

    There are plenty of good reason to vote for Obama, or any other democrat, but its disingenuous and deceitful to say one thing and do the exact opposite. This is especially troubling when it’s the central, if not only, theme of your campaign.

    Am I saying that this disqualifies Obama from being President? No. Am I saying Obama would be a bad president? Clinton would be a better president but Obama is 20 million times better than Bush or any of the Republican candidates.

    If people look at Obama’s actual stances rather than rhetoric and decide that they prefer him, that’s fine. Let’s have a good natured policy debate. But as long as Obama keeps peddling false promises, false not because they’re impossible but because HE won’t stick to them, then I think it’s fair game

  5. I agree wholeheartedly. When placed in office, Obama may be more susceptible to politics as usual because he is a bit green when it comes to the way politics works on a broader national scale. Again, I don’t think there’s really a dime’s worth of difference between Clinton, Edwards or Obama. The end results of a Presidency from any of the three would be the same.

    Clinton’s real problem is that Obama is an amazing orator and very persuasive in that setting.

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