Thursday, February 28, 2008

Did Obama Play the Race Card and Blame the Clintons?

In a compelling piece over at The New Republic, Princeton historian Sean Wilentz charges that Obama's campaign deliberately smeared Hillary and Bill Clinton as racist in order to capture the votes of Blacks and college liberals. When it comes to Senator Barack Obama, the only thing I'm certain of is that after all these months, we still do not know who he is. (I'm also certain that Hillary and Bill Clinton are Not racist!)

On a related note, an article in the Chicago Tribune (6/07) observes: "Despite often lofty rhetoric that he plans to bring the nation a 'new kind of politics,' Sen. Barack Obama has surrounded himself with operatives skilled in the old-school art of the political backstab."

An excerpt from Professor Wilentz's piece follows, and in the video clip below he makes his case more succinctly:

While promoting Obama as a "post-racial" figure, his campaign has purposefully polluted the contest with a new strain of what historically has been the most toxic poison in American politics. . . More than any other maneuver, this one has brought Clinton into disrepute with important portions of the Democratic Party. A review of what actually happened shows that the charges that the Clintons played the “race card” were not simply false; they were deliberately manufactured by the Obama camp and trumpeted by a credulous and/or compliant press corps in order to strip away her once formidable majority among black voters and to outrage affluent, college-educated white liberals as well as college students.

Did Obama Play the Race Card?

The Clinton campaign, in fact, has not racialized the campaign, and never had any reason to do so. Rather the Obama campaign and its supporters, well-prepared to play the “race-baiter card” before the primaries began, launched it with a vengeance when Obama ran into dire straits after his losses in New Hampshire and Nevada–and thereby created a campaign myth that has turned into an incontrovertible truth among political pundits, reporters, and various Obama supporters.

This development is the latest sad commentary on the malign power of the press, hyping its own favorites and tearing down those it dislikes, to create pseudo-scandals of the sort that hounded Al Gore during the 2000 campaign. It is also a commentary on how race can make American politics go haywire. Above all, it is a commentary on the cutthroat, fraudulent politics that lie at the foundation of Obama’s supposedly uplifting campaign. . . read more

via Hillary is 44 & Taylor Marsh

Background: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) said on NBC’s “Meet the Press”..that the presidential campaign of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) was “deliberately distorting” remarks she had made about the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King.

[S]aid Ohio Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, “All of the world knows the commitment of President Clinton and Sen. Clinton to civil rights issues — and not only the commitment in terms of words but in terms of deeds.”