January 12, 2008

How devious are the Clintons?

OK, I admit this is bordering on paranoia, but I'm not convinced it's wrong. Isn't it possible that Bill and Hillary's crypto-racist gaffes were actually intentional, and designed to call attention to the race of a rival whose hallmark has been that he, to use the cliché, transcends race?

Think about it. All of a sudden, Obama is being reduced to "the black candidate" he never was before. Bill even called Al Sharpton's radio show to "apologize" for his remarks -- thus linking Sharpton's name with Obama for perhaps the first time ever. Indeed, it seems like every African-American politician is being called for comment, driving home the point that Obama is "one of them" rather than "one of us" (where us means all America).

And because the Clintons are being "forced" to apologize and clarify, it makes it look like Obama is playing the race card, something he'd gotten so much credit for not having done. (In the linked article Stephane Tubbs Jones makes this allegation). The fact that the stories of allegedly offended blacks appear to have originated with former Clinton advisor Donna Brazile is especially suspicious. And of course, the Clintons' remarks were so ambiguous that 1) they have total deniability and 2) Obama comes off as hypersensitive.

Even if it was unintentional, this is very much a narrative that Hillary wants right now. For the first time in the primary, she's running against "the black candidate" rather than Barack Obama. If it was intentional, that's just one more reason the country needs the Clintons out of the picture immediately.

Posted by Daniel Radosh


OK, but what of Obama national campaign co-chair Jesse Jackson Jr. wondering out loud for Barack why Hillary teared up over the stress of the primary but (he presumes) not for the victims of Katrina, then specifically urging black voters in S. Car. to keep his specious accusation in mind when they go to the polls? (Did Katrina actually reduce Barack to tears? Or Jackson, for that matter?) Maybe that's not worse than Bill's alleged race-baiting (it's certainly a Hell of a lot less subtle), but given that Jackson's comment employed both the race card and a dash of mysogyny, it's got to be close. . . by the bar you're setting, then, do we also need Obama out of the picture ASAP?

Your suspicion is hardly paranoid in my opinion. Hillary gives the impression that her every syllable and twitch is carefully calculated. Same with Bill, but he is better at appearing spontaneous. Barack Obama will rise above it all I think. His appeal is to the young and to the wise, those who know that the very phrase "African American community" has always been a less than precise descriptive. There is corporate money, media manipulation and cult of personality fueling both sides of this squabble. Kucinich calling for a recount in New Hampshire looks like the real story.

One of Bill Clinton's comments that hasn't received as much attention in terms of its subtle racial connotations is his statement on Charlie Rose that electing Obama would be a "roll of the dice." Now maybe I'm the one being paranoid here, but I've seen enough old movies 1920s and 30s to recognize the craps-shooting African-American as a old popular stereotype. Dave Chappelle once used it as the basis of a skit called "The World Series of Dice," which he called the "black gambling" version of all those ESPN poker shows.

Now maybe this is reading too much into it, I really don't know...

You're right Radosh - this theory *borders* on paranoia, but doesn't quite cross the line. Your own self doubt about the Clinton's intent saves you from the fatal flaw of all conspiracy theories - that flaw being that, while all the facts you present may be true, they do not inevitably lead to only one conclusion; a conclusion usually far more complicated and improbable than the situation can bear. Only the very persuasive nature of the true facts makes the improbable conclusion at all plausible. If you take all the known facts here and fit them into the simplest, most likely, explanation, the ambiguous racist remarks, the crying etc were all inadvertent and were simply spun like hell after they occurred.

Time will tell. All vast conspiracies – right wing or left – necessarily involve large numbers of people. And people infatuated with secret plans or addicted to scheming cannot keep secrets. Somebody will write an article or book or talk to a tabloid about it for money, then we’ll know. Until then….

It's a reasonable theory, except for one thing: Isn't this a particularly illogical time for the Clintons to be playing up the race card -- after Iowa and New Hampshire? Whatever Bill (hypothetically) thinks he could gain from this, wouldn't he stand to lose more by galvanizing Obama's black base in South Carolina and elsewhere? There are, I'd assume, many more African Americans currently supporting Hillary than there are casual racists leaning Obama.

Regardless, it's shoddy journalism for the Washington Post to suggest that "several of [Clinton's] most prominent surrogates" have made racially insensitive comments, and then fail to cite anything specific beyond the month-old comments of a guy who quickly resigned (and/or was fired)...

P.S.: In defense of WaPo, I didn't realize how widely this pseudo-story has been covered over the weekend. The more that I read about it, the more this story sounds like an unwitting conspiracy by the press to keep itself awake through this interminable campaign.

"...all inadvertent and were simply spun like hell after they occurred."

I think that's probably the most likely scenario. But that doesn't make it excusable. The Clintons and their supporters are definitely trying to keep this story alive. They couldn't shut up about it this weekend. There's no doubt in my mind that they conducted polls that show that the narrative, at a minimum, raises Obama's negatives.

Well no, it isn't excusable. I have no doubt that they conducted those polls even before the so-called slips and simply took advantage of events as they occurred. They are certainly milking it hard - I just saw a TV speech of Hillary's (made today? tonight?) about MLK and his dream speech - I think they will be hitting that theme hard as MLK day and the primaries converge.

Calling it a premeditated conspiracy however can backfire, as it is easily disproved, or dismissed as paranoia, and so gives them blanket deniability for the whole spinning mess. Better not to go there...

I think this all comes down to the fact that there is, unfortunately, very little to distinguish these two in their actual policy positions (or senate voting records). Which means for anyone with only the ability to do shallow analysis, say the MSM, it comes down to the "chick," vs. the "brother."

Hillary will do whatever it takes to win, we know that. This seems to be the only ammo she has right now.

"There's no doubt in my mind that they conducted polls that show that the narrative, at a minimum, raises Obama's negatives."

It's the Clintons, so I'm sure there were polls involved. But that doesn't rule out the possibility that Hillary's negatives are the motivating factor -- i.e., address this now, lest Hillary be Swift Boated as an ignorant honky. Given that the Clintons have traditionally done well with African Americans, I could understand a move to protect that turf.

I mean, if the goal really was to send a message to whites and not blacks, is Al Sharpton really the guy you call? Maybe I'm just underestimating the Vizzini-esque machinations of the Clinton brain.


Yeah, that hits it right on the head. I was trying to think of a pithy way to convey how volatile and potentially self-destructive this kind of reverse-psychology head-fake could be... and now I don't have to.

I love the phrase "Vizzini-esque."

"I love the phrase "Vizzini-esque.""

Just don't write it at your desk.

"Stop rhyming! I mean it!"

"I mean, if the goal really was to send a message to whites and not blacks, is Al Sharpton really the guy you call?"

That all depends on the message you want to send. If Obama is doing well with white voters because of the perception that he isn't engaging in the types of racial politics that whites find alienating, what better way to negate that advantage than by standing him up next to Al "Tawana Brawley" Sharpton?

Given that this type of maneuver could hurt both Clinton and Obama, I suppose it's more Dread Pirate Robertsonian- putting Iocaine powder into both cups and seeing who might die first, with the belief that you'll still be breathing at the end.

Or am I pushing an analogy way, way too far?

if the goal really was to send a message to whites and not blacks, is Al Sharpton really the guy you call?

Absolutely, as Michael notes. The Clintons have succeeded in casting Sharpton as a surrogate for Obama. The message isn't what Bill said on the air, it's the very fact that he's giving Sharpton a role in the race.

What? Inconceivable?

The fact that reasonable people even suspect that the Clintons would plot this way reminds me of how weary of them I am.

The fact that reasonable people even suspect that the Clintons would plot this way reminds me of how weary of them I am. Of the Clintons, that is.

It was Obama supporters who started the race issue. The day after the New Hampshire Primary, Professor Dyson, a professed Obama supporter, tarred all of New Hampshire with being racist for picking Hillary over Obama, and Obama did nothing to correct Dyson.

Hillary Clinton had no time to enjoy the momentum of her win in New Hampshire as a result - interesting coincidence that the last week has all been about the Obama campaign trying to distract attention away from Hillary's win by bringing up race issues.

It was Obama supporters who started the race issue.

The Clintons' precipitating remarks came the day before the primary. Brazile's huffing came the day of the primary.

Dyson is not an employee of the Obama campaign, and Obama is a smart enough politician to know that taking responsibility for everything every supporter says is a recipe for disaster.

interesting opinion piece on obama's cry-baby nature from the murdoch owned london times:


Margaret Carlson likes Radosh.net


I have yet to hear a woman of any other ethnicity other than african-american state that they are their race first and a woman second... What intelligent/educated person would vote based on their race or gender, anyway??? If that is someone's motivation to vote, they have no business doing so.

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