Blacks Turning on Clintons?

Several prominent black leaders are assailing Bill and Hillary Clinton for their use of racially insensitive language in their campaign against Barack Obama, Ben Smith reports for The Politico.

Blacks Turning on Clintons? 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.

The comments, which ranged from the New York senator appearing to diminish the role of Martin Luther King Jr. in the civil rights movement — an aide later said she misspoke — to Bill Clinton dismissing Sen. Barack Obama’s image in the media as a “fairy tale” — generated outrage on black radio, black blogs and cable television. And now they’ve drawn the attention of prominent African-American politicians.

“A cross-section of voters are alarmed at the tenor of some of these statements,” said Obama spokeswoman Candice Tolliver, who said that Clinton would have to decide whether she owed anyone an apology. “There’s a groundswell of reaction to these comments — and not just these latest comments but really a pattern, or a series of comments that we’ve heard for several months,” she said. “Folks are beginning to wonder: Is this really an isolated situation, or is there something bigger behind all of this?”


Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., through a spokesman, used even stronger language. “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. “Regrettably, they have resorted to distasteful and condescending language that appeals to our fears rather than our hopes. I sincerely hope that they’ll turn away from such reactionary, disparaging rhetoric.”


The series of comments Clinton critics’ cite began in mid-December, when the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s New Hampshire campaign, Bill Shaheen, speculated about whether Obama had ever dealt drugs. In the final days of the New Hampshire campaign, however, the discomfort of some black observers intensified as Bill Clinton dismissed the contrast between Obama’s judgment on the war and Clinton’s as a “fairy tale” and spoke dismissively of his short time in the Senate. And the candidate herself, in an interview with Fox News, stressed the role of President Lyndon Johnson, over Martin Luther King Jr., in the civil rights movement.

“I would point to the fact that Dr. King’s dream began to be realized when President Lyndon 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,” she said, in response to a question about how her dismissive attitude toward Obama’s “false hopes” would have applied to the civil rights movement. “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.”

An aide later said Clinton didn’t intend to diminish King, and later that day she went out of her way to stress his accomplishment and courage in leading a movement.

Then, when Obama lost New Hampshire, the first question on black media outlets like “The Tom Joyner Show” was whether white racism had defeated him, and when a Clinton supporter, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, said — though not directly in connection to Obama — that politicians can’t “shuck and jive” in early-primary states, it only added fuel to the fire.


“For him to go after Obama, using a ‘fairy tale,’ calling him as he did last week, it’s an insult. And I will tell you, as an African-American, I find his tone and his words to be very depressing,” Donna Brazile, a longtime Clinton ally who is neutral in this race, said on CNN earlier this week.

Asked in an e-mail from Politico about the situation Friday, she responded by sending over links to five cases in which the Clintons and their surrogates talked about Obama, along with a question:
“Is Clinton using a race-baiting strategy against Obama?”

Having watched for years as the Jesse Jacksons and Al Sharptons unleashed these type of attacks on Republicans for similarly innocuous comments, I must confess to a certain degree of schadenfreude here. And, frankly, the Clintons are Grade A race baiters in their own right, being past masters of stirring up black resentment of Republicans.

Still, this is ridiculous.

Bill Clinton’s “fairy tale” line has nothing whatsoever to do with race. Here’s a full clip of the comments:

He’s angrily rebutting the idea that Obama’s judgment on the Iraq War was superior to his wife’s and lamenting that the media has allowed that “fairy tale” to go unchallenged.

Similarly, it’s hard to look at Hillary’s rather inartful response to a question about MLK’s dream going away and see it as a dissing of King:

It’s inarguably true that it ultimately takes action on the part of political leaders, especially presidents, to make drastic changes in public policy. Surely, one shouldn’t have to qualify every statement made about King’s legacy with “of course he was a wonderful, wonderful man and the greatest leader our country has ever seen, and golly gee whiz he was wonderful.”

Cuomo’s “shuck and jive” comments are a classic case of unfortunate origins. The phrase undeniably has racist roots:

To shuck and jive” originally referred to the intentionally misleading words and actions that African-Americans would employ in order to deceive racist Euro-Americans in power, both during the period of slavery and afterwards. The expression was documented as being in wide usage in the 1920s, but may have originated much earlier.

It has been decades, though, since that connotation attached. Nowadays, it has the same colloquial use as “tap dance” or various other phrases used to connote an attempt to avoid giving straight answers to a question.

Other Reactions:

  • Juliette Ochieng starts us off with a plea: “Fellow Americans, here’s a suggestion: how about we not fantasize about this country turning into Kenya or Pakistan or reverting to the 1968 version of the USA just yet.”
  • Gun Toting Liberal wonders, in a post entitled “Nation’s First Two Black (Co) Presidents Feeling Backlash From Supporters Of Nation’s Potential Third Black President,” “[I]sn’t it a bit pretentious of the Senator from Illinois to jump on the “he/she/it’s not black enough” bandwagon after being victimized by it himself for months?”
  • Jules Crittenden, “Given that Obama, if elected, would be the president with the least political, government and/or executive experience in living memory, and the competition is being told to shut up on the grounds of ‘equal opportunity,’ it’s almost like they’re trying to turn him into America’s first affirmative-action president.”
  • Ann Althouse: “Obama supporters have a motivation to characterize things as racial that are not, and the Clinton campaign must be frustrated that it’s hard to attack Obama, who seems to be getting a free pass. But I don’t doubt that the Clintons will use whatever works for them. Insinuations — and even slip-ups — don’t work, however, when so many people are so ready to detect racial content.”
  • Karl @ Protein Wisdom: “[I]t is tough to muster sympathy as those who stoked the fires of political correctness and identity politics get singed by the blowback.”
  • Bithead: “Racism, or Sexism? Which will win the Democratic Nomination?”
  • Jim Addison: “It seems to me someone predicted this contest would eventually involve charges of ‘racism’ or at least ‘insensitivity,’ but I can’t remember who it was . . .”
  • Sister Toldjah: “I don’t feel one ounce of sympathy for the false implied allegations of racism against her, not after what she and her party have done over the years to advance the myth that conservatives are nothing but cold-hearted racists, a vicious tactic liberal Democrats like Hillary Clinton have used routinely for shameless political purposes.”
  • Marc Ambinder: “One thing is certain: it’s tough for people to figure out how to talk about a black candidate, including the campaign of the black candidate himself.”
  • Josh Marshall has an interesting essay on the difficulties of covering such an issue. Notably, “It’s genuinely unclear to me how much one side or the other is consciously pushing this, how much it’s escalated based in part on misunderstandings, or whether, in a somewhat related fashion, hyping journalistic accounts has given the engagement a life of its own.”
  • Matt Stoller, though, thinks there’s much more to the charges than most of us credit: “There’s a kind of cultural racism and elitism that the boomer Clintonistas carry around with them.”

More reax at memeorandum.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, 2008 Election, Blogosphere, Congress, Race and Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Charles Roshack says:

    Top Clinton adviser to Guardian (UK) newspaper: “‘If you have a social need, you’re with Hillary,’ the [Clinton] aide said. ‘If you want Obama to be your imaginary hip black friend and you’re young and you have no social needs, then he’s cool.'”

  2. Jimmy Donwon says:

    It was just a matter of time before Obama staff pulled out the RACE CARD in the mostly black southern states. He should of cried racism in IOWA so they could really see Obama for the racist slim ball he is. Now the Clintons will protate themselves in front of that racists pig Al Sharpton.

  3. The pattern is clear says:

    I think it is interesting that there are SO MANY examples, new ones coming out DAILY, but the author of this article feels it’s much ado about nothing. On the MLK v. LBJ remark – the point is not to say nice things about MLK.

    Senator Clinton implies that one day, LBJ woke up and decided to give Black people their civil right, negating ALL THE PEOPLE including Dr. King that have GIVEN THEIR LIVES in this effort.

    It may seem like a small thinkg to some, but it is the dismissive and divisive tone that is the problem, even more than the racist comments themselves.

  4. floyd says:

    After giving the Clinton’s a pass for decades on every possible infraction imaginable,their constituents decide to crucify them for something they DIDN’T do! DELICIOUS!
    Like the Eagles song “New Kid in Town” says…. ” they will never forget you ’til somebody new comes along”!![lol][lol]

  5. Anderson says:

    What gibberish these “charges” are. If Obama’s best excuse for being elected president is to be elected *because* he’s black, I hope he drops out today.

    LBJ, whose Vietnam debacle was a disaster for the nation and the Democrats, nevertheless did AT LEAST as much as MLK to bring freedom and opportunity to black Americans. No one else could have gotten such amazing legislation through Congress, certainly not JFK.

    The stupid ignorance of history displayed by self-proclaimed black “leaders” is shameful, or would be if these people had the slightest sense of shame.

  6. yetanotherjohn says:

    Those who live by identity politics die by identity politics.

    The democrats are tearing their coalition apart. It doesn’t matter which one wins, a large segment of the democratic party is going to be miffed. Now the question is can the GOP take advantage of it?

    The GOP party is a lot more fractured at this point (I think the pundit who said they wish they could take a bit from each of the 6 top republicans to make the ideal candidate captured the prevailing view on the right). But the GOP is conducting the debate much more over substance not image or perceived slights. The GOP wounds are a lot more likely to heal.

  7. Benedict says:

    Should have seen this coming from the backlash to the Biden “bright, clean articulate” comment.

    The Obama campaign has been playing, and will continue to play, the race card. The Republican candidates – all of them – need to start drawing attention to this NOW, because if the first black president’s use of the words “fairy tale” is now enough to upset Obama’s supporters, then anything and everything a Republican says will be seen as a racial epithet. The more the message can be sent that these are the same old Jesse Jackson / Al Sharpton identity politics, the better they will be. And, as this story and the “bright, clean, articulate” story makes clear, it IS, to quote Andy Cuomo (D), the same “shuck and jive.”

  8. Kathy says:

    It’s inarguably true that it ultimately takes action on the part of political leaders, especially presidents, to make drastic changes in public policy. Surely, one shouldn’t have to qualify every statement made about King’s legacy with “of course he was a wonderful, wonderful man and the greatest leader our country has ever seen, and golly gee whiz he was wonderful.”

    It’s also inarguably true that white “political leaders” from Eisenhower (in whose administration the civil rights movement began) to Johnson and beyond have done everything they could to resist racial change, and only acceded to it when political pressure from ordinary Americans forced their hand. With regard to the civil rights movement, MOST of those Americans — not all, by any means, but most of them — were black Americans.

    This is not about MLK per se. It’s not about dissing one black man. It’s about dissing an entire social movement, mostly African-American, that forced the federal government, over a period of many years, to take action. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not happen overnight, you know. It took years of marching, boycotting, organizing, getting arrested and beaten, getting fire-hosed, getting lynched and shot and murdered and mutilated and refusing to be intimidated and getting back up and continuing to march and organize, etc., to get the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Every single moment of triumph and concrete change was fought for and won hard by civil rights activists, and most of them were black. Yes, there were white people like Andrew Goodman and Viola Liuzzo who were murdered by Southern whites for their crime of standing with blacks for equal rights and opportunity, but they were a minority in a movement that was a black movement — just like in the women’s movement there were men, but it was still the women’s movement, and it was women who achieved the historic changes.

    This is not the first time a white politician has taken credit for the historic successes of the civil rights movement, or claimed credit on behalf of white politicians. Blacks are very sensitive about it, and they have every right and reason to be. Hundreds of black Americans made it impossible for LBJ and other white politicians to ignore them anymore, and they braved what to many of us are unimaginable horrors to do so. Give them credit.


  9. Pug says:

    The problem is Bill Clinton. As a former president it is inherently undignified of him to get into the middle of a hotly contested primary and start trashing his wife’s opponent.

    He should restrict himself to saying as many nice things about his wife as he wants, shut up about her opponents and try to maintain some of the dignity with which a former president should conduct himself.

    That seems to be beyond the capability of Bill Clinton, though. Even though he should know better, he can’t seem to help himself.

  10. Tano says:

    I agree completely with Kathy here – she seems to have the only sensible take on this issue on this thread. The notion that LBJ did as much for the civil rights movement as the movement itself is absurd. LBJ deserves a hell of a lot of credit for what he did, but in the end his role was as a politician putting pressure on his southern colleagues to ratify the new reality in the country that the movement had created.

    I sense that a lot of Republicans are extremely defensive on these issues, for good reason. They built the Reagan majority on the basis of incorporating those southerners who fled the Democratic party because the Dems embraced the civil rights movement. Without those voters, the Republicans would not have tasted power for the past generation. I don’t imagine that Republicans will ever be able to publicly admit this, but it is true, and it has had a lot of consequences for how they view race in America.

    The prevailing view (though unarticulated) of the old segregationists, and their heirs seems to be “ok, we were wrong and we lost, so lets forget that this was ever an issue”. That is why they run away, at full speed, from any discussion of race. Its why they are so incredibly clumsly on this issue, in terms of their rhetoric. It is why their new obsession seems to be to find some way, some how, to accuse Democrats of being racists if the subject of race is ever mentioned.

    Maybe the bottom line here is that for hundreds of years, southern whites built and maintained a culture that is simply, and profoundly at odds with the values that are at the heart of the American revolution – the political equality of all citizens. It has been 143 years since the crucial moment, the defeat of that culture at the end of the Civil War, but the conceptual integration of that culture into the wider American culture is still proceeding in an awkward and fitful manner. At every step of the process, everyone must always find some way to argue that the position they hold at the moment is deeply rooted in benevolence and is completely morally justified.

    The result is that, at every step of the way, people are more interested in justifying their own position than finding accomodation and moving forward. You see that constantly on the right, especially, where whenever race comes up, the only response is “I am right, I am good, and you [the person who might have raised the issue] is a race-baiter”.

    The comments that are at issue today are not innocuous. They are symptomatic of the conceptual distances that still exist regarding how these issues are viewed. People of good faith should sense that, and try to bridge the differences. But so much of what we hear are simply people digging into their own bunker and hurling insults at the other.

    When one group of people, defined and circumscribed by the majority culture, is treated with the ultimate disrespect for 350 years, I dont find it all that strange to see that there may be a need, one that might seem irrational if the history were different, to be assured by the majority that things are different now, that the professions of respect are actually true. I have never quite understood the reactions of those who find that unreasonable. I think so many people, good people, especially on the right, would love to live in a world where that history had never happened. What is odd is that they think they can, and should act as if that were the case.

  11. Stephen Rose says:

    Pug above is correct. Bill Clinton stepped over the line. I am sure if Edwards had been in Obama’s apparent position he would have done the same.

    I think the author here is wrong that Bill Clinton was not referring to the whole Obama effort. Certainly his remark about fairy tales can be construed either widely or narrowly.

  12. just me says:

    You know if it is racist, say something, but nitpicking comments to read racism in is going to get old and tiresome very fast.

    What it may in the end do, is turn off voters who are looking for a candidate not a candidate of a specific color.

    I also am troubled by the idea that at some point in this election a failure to support Obama will equal being racist.

  13. Donna says:


    I am thoroughly confused! See below TWO Article excerpts saying what Bill meant by “fairy tale” with TWO DIFFERENT REASONS! NOW he says it ‘s because Hillary is /was being beaten-up? Could you please get to the bottom of this?…

    From Reuters Today ….

    NEW YORK (Reuters) – Former President Bill Clinton said on Friday Barack Obama’s bid to be president was no “fairy tale” and said his use of that phrase earlier in the week referred specifically to Obama’s claims about his stance on the Iraq war.

    From Sirius Radio today….Bill Clinton quote…

    “Presumably, every African-American in this country believes that. And what I said was a fairy tale was his attack on Hillary….he said months ago in a very disrespectful way, we’re talking about disrespect…that it was ridiculous for her to claim that anything she had done for America in the 90s or even in this decade as a senator could qualify her to be president because it was such a divisive time.”

    It seems very unfair! Senator Obama was a gentleman, most pundits said it was a very “kind” Race… Edwards got a little tough, but not Obama. Talk about blaming the VICTIM! I am getting very disappointed with the Clintons.

  14. floyd says:

    Quote from above comment by Tano,

    “”I sense that a lot of Republicans are extremely defensive on these issues, for good reason. They built the Reagan majority on the basis of incorporating those southerners who fled the Democratic party because the Dems embraced the civil rights movement. Without those voters, the Republicans would not have tasted power for the past generation. I don’t imagine that Republicans will ever be able to publicly admit this, but it is true, and it has had a lot of consequences for how they view race in America.””

    This is a quote from the Dirksen Congressional Center’s report on the 1964 civil rights act…

    The Republican Party was not so badly split as the Democrats by the civil rights issue. As it turned out, only one Republican senator would participate in the filibuster against the bill. In fact, since 1933, Republicans had a more positive record on civil rights in Congress than the Democrats. In the twenty-six major civil rights votes since 1933, a majority of Democrats opposed civil rights legislation in over 80 percent of the votes. By contrast, the Republican majority favored civil rights in over 96 percent of the votes.

  15. Grewgills says:

    Certainly 50-100 years ago the Republicans were the party of civil rights and at that time had the overwhelming support of African Americans, but how is that relevant to current political positions? Should we also say that since the Democrats were the party of states rights at that same time that the same holds true today? What happened to the party affiliation of the bulk of those racist Democrats like Strom Thurmond after 1964? and how does the record of votes on civil rights by party in Congress look since 1964?

  16. graywolf says:

    I LOVE it!!

    Hoisted on their own petard.
    The intellectual dishonesty of the dem cong/Clinton crime family blows back.

    Not that screaming “racist” for ANY criticism of the newest balck prince is any more honest.

    Go at it. Chew each other up.
    Will the American voter see this blatant BS?
    Probably not; too busy following Brittany,Paris, et. al.
    And whining for more free stuff from the government.

  17. Tano says:


    What is your point?

    It is obviously true, and not at all a contradiction from anything that I wrote, that the Republicans, pre-mid-sixties, were not a party of the south, and were not the ones holding back American from integration.

    The Democrats were an alliance of the northern working class, some wealthy northerners, and the solid South – and thus were the party that instituted segregation and maintained it.

    But when the blacks in the south moved north during the Depression, they suddenly found their economic interests to be aligned with those of thier fellow working class white folks, and they started to move into the Democratic party. Suddenly the Democrats had a deep conflict – stick with their southern base, or take up the cause of civil rights for what had become part of their northern base.

    They chose civil rights. And the south chose the Republican party. That was the core political realignment of the 20th century.

    What do you think you are proving by making the point that Republicans were ok on race before 1964? My whole point was that modern Republicans (the Reagan coalition) have aligned with the southern segregationists and their descendants. And that these people are now the absolute core of that party and drive its rhetoric and its philosophy. No, they are not still segreagationists, a point I made in my original comment, but they are the ones that are struggling to find their way in the new American reality.

    The Democratic party, in part, was the party of segregation (and before that slavery), but the people who held those views, and their heirs, all became Republicans.

  18. floyd says:

    “They built the Reagan majority on the basis of incorporating those southerners who fled the Democratic party because the Dems embraced the civil rights movement.”
    The Reagan Majority was built during the late 70’s [30-35 years ago]barely more than 10 years after the 1964 civil rights act was passed. Most of the same people were likely still in office on both sides.
    I don’t think that democrats left the anti civil rights party to join the pro civil rights party because they were racists. Nor do I think that the democrats suddenly got “religion” in the late 60’s to early ’70’s while the Republican’s suddenly became racist as a method of attracting those stereotypically abused southerners.
    A much more plausible explanation for the advent of the Reagan democrat phenomenon had little to do with race and much to do with the social fomentation of the 70’s. Social conservatives had no other place to go when they were rejected by the democrats.
    If you could accept the democrats morphing of the “civil rights” movement away from race and toward feminism,abortion,and sexual preference
    during this time period it would add credence to the above quote.
    As for current political positions, the reference was to “the Reagan Majority” which was “built”,by simple definition,prior to his election in 1980.
    Your choice of “poster boy” Strom Thurmond would seem to lend credence to your position and may explain his motives.With all the respect I can muster for your opinion in this matter,I don’t think it shows a true or complete picture of the motives of the movement.

  19. floyd says:

    I must confess that my experience with racism over the years may to some extent color my view of the past. Based on my experience, it is my opinion that racism has no party affiliation or skin color. It does take a couple of forms related to a persons politics however. For lack of better terms I will refer to them as the following…
    [1]The covert racist, which thrives in more sophist circles and tends to be a liberal or a democrat, though not exclusively.
    [2] The overt racist, which thrives in a more hoi-polloi environment and tends to be a conservative [even reactionary]or a Republican, though not exclusively.
    Neither is IMHO, more or less numerous or insidious than the other,although by nature I tend to respect all things overt more than covert.

  20. floyd says:

    Tlaloc, my most humble apologies, I guess i have addressed so many comments your way lately it became a habit. i assure you it was unintentional!

  21. Paul says:

    The democrats are tearing their coalition apart.

    Please tell me what channel you are watching so I can switch to it. The GOP is at much greater risk of that right now than the Dems.

    Anyway, this article is totally inside the blogway stuff, it is just a few black pols who earlier endorsed Hillary needing an excuse to change their support to Obama. The black-Democrat coalition hardly seems in imminent risk and rank and file voters will never even know about this little tiff which will all soon be forgiven and forgotten when one of them wins the nomination.

    If Obama’s best excuse for being elected president is to be elected *because* he’s black, I hope he drops out today.

    Ah, yes, one of the all-time most successful pitches in majority-white electorates, “vote for me, I’m black.” I’d bet Obama wishes he was gay too so he’d have everything going for him in this election.

  22. floyd says:

    I stand by the positions taken in my above comments , although upon review I find them to be a mixed response to grewgills and tano. I apologize to all whose names have been mistreated and I will now get some sleep and endeavor to do better in the future. Thank you.

  23. DL says:

    Racism may indeed have no party or color, but it serves well as a weapon for the left in terms of special interest group votes (ignore the plantation requirement)and even better as a censorship tool inpolitical correctness. The Dems have fine tuned these weapons and now find out that they are destroying their masters (think Dr.Frankenstein before you begin…)

    Bill and Hillary are experiencing the exact same fear as that of Captian Smith of the H.M.S. Titanic -“My God, she’s sinking!”

  24. Mother4aCause says:

    As a responsible African American mother, I feel Senator Barack Obama is the only way to go. Right now my daughter is in the process of applying to law schools. She worked so hard to achieve a 4.0 in college and the whole while I was telling her, “Yes You Can”. This was before I even heard that phrase from Senator Obama. When she start getting letters from Harvard, Stanford, NYU, ect.. she got nervous and said that she did not think that she could do it. I responded, “Yes You Can”

    Her father was murdered at the age of 9 and she felt abandoned. She was raised in a mostly white community and she did not have any positive African American male figures in her life. She start dating a boy of another race and I was curious why she did not want to date any one of the same descent and she said she did not think she could find any positive African American men. I told her, “Yes You Can.” Not that it is anything wrong with her dating someone outside her race, because “Yes She Can.”

    Recently she called me one afternoon crying after she went to go see Senator Obama. She said he restored her faith in mankind. He painted a picture of hope and possibilities. She said, “Mommy, Yes I Can be success at anything that I set out to do and I Will be. I did not know too much about Senator Obama at that time, but I wanted to find out who is this man that blossomed the message I planted in my child.

    From that day forward I have been on his bandwagon. Everything I read about him I agreed with or at least understand his thinking.

    As an African American woman, it does my heart well to know that he will have to go home to look in the face of a woman that looks like me. Not only that, he is IN LOVE with a woman that is like me. He is me and I am him. To deny him an opportunity to prove that he can make a difference, is to deny myself and child that same opportunity. I recently liked Hillary, but I believe this is the time to take the next step and move forward. He is the most educated of both parties. If we do not do it now, we may not have another chance. I just do not believe that the Clinton’s are my saviors

    We have to take a stand for children and grandchildren and show them that Yes They Can.

    If we do not have the confidence that a black man can be president now, what make you think White America will give us another chance? I am beginning to lose faith in my people

  25. Bruce Moomaw says:

    (1) The dirty little secret (well, little secret) of the Democratic campaign is that — except on Iraq (where Hillary is the most hawkish candidate and Obama the most dovish) there is very little difference between the candidates in their actual policy views. The result is that we’re seeing an inordinate amount of grunting and groaning over extremely minor differences and “personal qualifications”, along with predictable attempts by the candidates to synthesize Huge Differences between them out of thin air because none exist in reality. And the current absurd fight between Hillary and Obama over “racism” is just another manifestation of this. This sort of thing is hardly new — it has always been frequently necessary for someone to win their party’s nomination — but it also always frequently backfires in the general election campaign. Nevertheless, it’s going to continue to occur as long as the US (or any other country) retains an election system in which party primaries are separate from the general election.

    (My own position on the Obama-Hillary squabble is intermediate: clearly she got a ridiculous bum rap for her MLK comment, but against that you have to consider her willingness to climb into bed with a monumental sleeze like Robert Johnson — and, for that matter, her willingness to lie through her teeth about Obama’s original position on Iraq.)

    (2) On the subject of the Southern Strategy, Floyd is spouting absolute historical hooey; I hope it’s just because he’s young and doesn’t have either memories or detailed book knowledge of that period. 1964 was THE key year for the massive transformation of both parties, in which the Dems finally stopped equivocating and embraced civil rights, and white Southerners responded by stampeding overwhelmingly to the GOP — which was quite happy to accept them, and thus permanently changed the nature of its coalition and its policies. In Goldwater’s immortal phrase: “We should go hunting where the ducks are” — the “ducks” being white racists. Thurmond (and Jesse Helms) were just the most prominent of those ducks; their flocks blackened the skies of the South in 1964. That’s why the core of Goldwater’s support in that election was the South, and specifically the Deep South. Outside the South, LBJ beat him 64-36; in the South, he came within 4 points of Johnson. In Mississippi, he got a staggering 87% of the vote, and I assure you that it wasn’t because of those Dirty Hippies, who didn’t happen to be around then.

    Consevative Republican strategists and pundits stampeded to embrace the new Southern Strategy, also known as “being as racist as you can possibly be without being so blatant about it as to give the game away completely to Northern Republicans who might have qualms about it”. (Floyd should really take a stroll through the pages of National Review during the ’60s and ’70s; it VERY often slid clear over the line into flat-out blatant — and, in fact, flabbergasting — racism.) It certainly wasn’t the only factor that put Nixon and Reagan in — the furor over supposed far leftism and dangerous dovishness certainly played a huge role in sinking McGovern, and Reagan’s electoral victories were due more to the disastrous failure of Carter’s economic policies than to the Southern Strategy — but it was a very important factor indeed.

    The echoes from that event have resonated in the South ever since. Explicit racism is obviously tremendously weaker in the South than it used to be, but it still plays some role; remember the ridiculous fights over the Confederate symbols on Southern flags? And the South’s old racial bigotry has now, to a large extent, been replaced by religious bigotry — which, I think, very often consists of hatred of “cultural liberals” simply because they’re perceived as “liberals”, and a lot of Southerners still harbor buried resentments against “liberals” in general which are left over from the days when they (or their parents) hated liberals for pushing racial integration.

  26. Stephen Rose says:

    Bruce wrote:

    “The result is that we’re seeing an inordinate amount of grunting and groaning over extremely minor differences and “personal qualifications”, along with predictable attempts by the candidates to synthesize.”

    Well said.

  27. sytgrl says:

    As an African American woman, let me also say that I have looked at all of the candidates, and have sought the most original and complete materials available on this issue and others. Nor have I chosen a candidate yet. And I want to thank Kathy and Tano for their insightful comments.

    However, I find this article very biased and unprofessional. Essentially, every argument is dismissed or swept under the rug. Many minorities become frustrated because when we do raise our voices to protest or engage in discussion, people comment that it shouldn’t be about race, it’s about the “real issues?” Or that we are getting worked up over nothing? How can you feel that you are heard, an equal, or have a voice if your opinion is constantly dismissed?

    Also, it may be that Hilary just slipped up if she said it once. But she said the same thing just a few days before in a speech in NH. This was no mistake, this was a part of her rhetoric.

    To add, why did her comments (in both cases)imply that all MLK did was make great speeches? What about the Nobel Peace Prize? Leading the Montgomery Bus Boycott? Organizing one of the largest marches on DC? Helping to found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference? His work regarding South Africa, Vietnam, and Latin America? His economic initiatives?

    Why aren’t the MSM and the majority of the blogs reporting Bob Johnson’s Sidney Poitier comment (in the same speech he refered to Obama’s drug use, and much more offensive)? What about the Nevada lawsuit? And Joyner’s assertion that the term “shuck and jive” doesn’t have the same meaning today is laughable. The MLK comment was not done in isolation.

    And please, stop assuming that I am so monolithic that I am going to automatically vote for a black man because he is black, or a woman because I am a woman too.

    The lack of respect, and the lack of knowledge and research into the candidates makes me wonder of we are ready for any kind of change at all.

  28. DL says:

    Someday, I pray, we can mature to the point where we first don’t have to identify our skin color in order to have our position accepted.

    As an American holding the traditional values we once cherished, I reject identity politics based upon superfluous criteria. My sex, race, age, or sexual preferences have nothing to do with the correctness of my remarks.

    It is time to put the political dissection of this country to rest -as in one nation indivisible. (and invisible as well!)

  29. rich seattle says:

    Hillary goes out of her way to point out her record on civil rights while Obama he is biracial (african and white) so I my eyes that makes him a product and expert on civil rights if there ever was one. To me both clintons are political Chameleons and snakes in the grass when it comes to civil rights. I remember when Bill sat by and let the Dole-Canady bill pass when he could have did something about. It did away with most affirmative action. Ever since its been open season on minorities on the workplace. Last one hired first one fired all day. Bob Johnson is a republican and a cancer if you look at his history and what he has done to get where he is. Hillary wont get any “street cred” by chillin that homie to me thats the equivalent of what Bush look like kickin around in Saudi.

  30. sytgrl says:

    To DL,

    1) I wasn’t stating my race/sex in order to get acceptance from anyone on this blog. I am very clear about who I am and what I believe, and mature enough to allow people to have their own opinions without it infringing on mine. I simply stated it because it was important to provide that context for comments I made later in my post.

    2)I agree, your race, age,sex, or sexual preferences do not have anything to do with the correctness of your comments. But it has everything to do with who you are as a person, and your opinions are (in part) a reflection of this. The problem is that most people assume how these factors (such as race or age) will play out in people’s individual lives and make assumptions.

    3)I’m not sure what your previous comments have to do with “the political dissection of the country,” but our country is founded on the fact that political discourse among citizens will bring our unity and move our country forward.

    However, I appreciate the sentiment of a country united.

  31. DL says:


    I was basically referring to the fact that the Democrat Party has built its base by agitating for special interest groups at the expense of unity. It matters not which group:blacks, feminists, homsexuals, unions, radical environmentalists, pacifists, aethists etc.

    The mentality is that of pre-melting pot dislike for the enemy (all not included in their ranks)at the expense of a unified America.

    Such division for attaining power through identity politics has polarized and caused grave harm to the country.

  32. DL says:

    I might add that if this is truly about the “discourse” you use as a reason, then why the resort by the left to “political correctness” to stifle discourse?

  33. cathy says:

    Hillary was a Goldwater Girl by her own admisson. Goldwater was not for the Civil Rights Act.
    Some things run deep.