February 27, 2008

"How Barack Obama played the race card and blamed Hillary Clinton."

Sean Wilentz portrays a clever sleight of hand:
[T]he Obama campaign's most effective gambits have been far more egregious and dangerous than the hypocritical deployment of deceptive and disingenuous attack ads. To a large degree, the campaign's strategists turned the primary and caucus race to their advantage when they deliberately, falsely, and successfully portrayed Clinton and her campaign as unscrupulous race-baiters — a campaign-within-the-campaign in which the worked-up flap over the Somali costume photograph is but the latest episode. 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. The Clinton campaign, in fact, has not racialized the campaign, and never had any reason to do so.
Does Wilentz prove his point? Read the whole thing.

IN THE COMMENTS: I don't think anyone is buying Wilentz's argument (and his motives are impugned).

28 comments:

Sloanasaurus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sloanasaurus said...

Obama is a divisive candidate. He supports policies for only some Americans and not for others. He bashes the rich and companies he hates. Unifiers, are supposed to be for all, not just for some.

madawaskan said...

Ann-

I hate thinking about politics all the time-it's almost a curse.

But, when you took the photo of the T.Rex and used the fish eye lense as the prespective of his prey-you were really the hunter capturing his photo.

Well hell it got me to thinking how you could be the victim in politics-or play the part-while really being the hunter trying to lure your target in for the kill.

Hence Hillary and Obama.

Here is the other thing in life-you rarely can except 100% of a person. Are they ever really 100% all good-and then even if they were, would you like them?

Now think about this in a sliding scale with respect to political figures.

If you don't like the compartmentalization and parsing that Obama does with Farrakan, then how are you going to like it in bigger increments, in a larger arena with both far-reaching and longterm effects?

Where is Farrakan on the evil scale compared to the world leaders that Obama wants to look for the good in?

Castro. Ahmadinejad.

Obama is playing with fire, and it's the best of us that will pay the most dearly for it, maybe not immediately but in the longterm.

And they will pay for it more than they ever have in the past, because the rules have changed-by greater or new magnitudes of evil.

George said...

McCain has to put Condi Rice on the ticket.

That's the only way in present day America he can blow past this cringeworthy servile pathetic bullsh*t.

Yesterday McCain apologized for introductory remarks made for him that a) he wasn't present for; and b) had yet to even hear.

All the person did was call Sen. Obama a) a hack; and b) use his middle name several times, just as Tex. Gov. Richards did against Bush Sr. to embarrass him. Clearly, no one can use Sen. Obama's middle name. We must forget his origins.

What's good for the white goose is good for the black gander.

ricpic said...

Let's not forget that Obama can play the race card all day long and get away with it when the whites he's addressing are the barely able to stand their whiteness white Democrats. It may not go down all that well with the less drenched in shame and guilt general populace.

JohnAnnArbor said...

It's hard to say the Clintons are total innocents here. Bill made some eyebrow-raising comments comparing Obama's SCarolina victory to Jesse Jackson's.

Trevor Jackson said...

JohnAnnArbor, Wilentz says that Clinton was just being modest by not mentioning that he had also won primaries in South Carolina.

There may or may not be merit in that TNR piece, but that bit of spin is pretty ridiculous. We all knew what Clinton meant.

musher3 said...

Wilentz has a point that he's decided he wants to make, and to do so he leaves out significant details or misrepresents virtually every one of the several episodes that he discusses.

Consider the first case that Wilentz discusses, namely Bill Shaheen's statement that, when Republicans get a hold of Obama, "It'll be, 'When was the last time? Did you ever give drugs to anyone? Did you sell them to anyone?'" Of course, it would contradict Wilentz's point to reproduce Shaheen's quote, so Wilentz sums it up as:
Bill Shaheen, remarked entirely on his own on how the Republicans might make mischievous and damaging political use of Obama's admitted use of marijuana and cocaine during his youth.

Conveniently left out here is Shaheen's completely baseless suggestion that Obama may have been a drug dealer. Of course it's been common for politicians to see their past drug use get brought out, but I sure don't remember anyone suggesting Bush or Gore or WJC had sold drugs. And the dealer aspect was the obviously racially-tinged aspect to Shaheen's remarks that (as I remember it) upset people.

More generally, throughout the article Wilentz seems to think that if a blogger or a columnist or a neutral eminence grise like Clyburn or Brazile complained about Clinton playing the race card, then they must just be a tool in the Obama campaign. But when these people don't have any known connection to that campaign, it seems more likely that they were speaking their own mind. People do that sometimes.

Meade said...

George said...
"McCain has to put Condi Rice on the ticket."

I think Ms. Rice deserves better than that really, don't you?

Besides, wouldn't it be more efficient for Sen. McCain to just come out and declare himself neither white nor male?

Sen. McCain: It's 2008. I have crossed the bridge to the 21st Century. From now on, I denounce and reject any notion by anyone that I am white, male, straight, or old. I am American. Period.

The People: Uh, heh heh, you're joking right?

Sen. McCain: Do I look to you like I'm joking?

garage mahal said...

Wilentz is spot on. I've been saying the same thing for months, but nobody listens to me.

garage mahal said...

There may or may not be merit in that TNR piece, but that bit of spin is pretty ridiculous. We all knew what Clinton meant.

Cuz we're all Clinton mind readers. Got it. He meant to play the race card in S.C. of all places, and sabotage his wife's campaign.

peter hoh said...

Old pro-Clinton spin: Obama isn't tough enough.

New pro-Clinton spin: Obama is engaging in rough politics.

Trevor Jackson said...

I don't need to be a mind reader to know when someone is trying to play me. He wasn't trying to "play the race card" he was trying to imply that Obama's successes would end in failure just as Jesse Jackson's did. And, that those successes in SC would not have come so easily if Obama's skin were a different color.

Be honest, garage mahal, did you really not wince when you heard him cite Jesse Jackson's wins in SC? Did you really think, Oh, he's being nice to John Edwards?

Ninja Pirate said...

""""
the Bradley Effect supposedly takes hold when white voters tell opinion pollsters that they plan to vote for a black candidate but instead, driven by racial fears, pull the lever for a white candidate.
""""

""""
the Bradley Effect supposedly takes hold when white voters tell opinion pollsters that they, driven by political correctness, plan to vote for a black candidate but instead pull the lever for a white candidate.
""""

Middle Class Guy said...

This is nothing more than an apologia for Hillary Clinton. She is the upright, honest, and virtuous campaigner. Obama is the egregious and disingenuous campaigner.

He has not proved his point. Bill Clinton raised and pushed the race card, as all the media have demonstrated. Hillaryland- her campign's name- has attacked Barack Obama from day one; how dare the upstart try to usurp their upstart.

I have said it before and will continue to say it; when will and the media and this apologist either prove or disprove any experience, accomplishment, or public policy implementation that Hillary Clinton is responsible for.

She is the egregious one. She will not verify anything. We are just to take her word for it.

AJ Lynch said...

There are a bunch of Clintonistas who were planning to work for her administration for the next 4-8 years. Now they are certainly shocked to see that slip away and are willing to say almost anything to save her campaign.

Could this Wilentz be one of them? I think he was a history prof somewhere for awhile.

rossi said...

I love argument by assertion. Complain loudly, don't back up your facts. It is a sleight of hand, indeed and quite laughable.

garage mahal said...

Trevor
The theory makes absolutely no sense. Bill Clinton carried S.C. handily himself. I still even know what the charge, or assumption is/was. Not even the offended party (Jackson) agrees. This argument is so fucking stupid it should make any sane person head hurt.

But Clinton Rules clearly state anything negative said about them is automatically their fault.

Ninja Pirate said...

""""
the most insidious since Ronald Reagan kicked off his 1980 campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, praising states' rights.
""""

Here's what Regan said in Mississippi

""""
What we have to do is bring back the recognition that the people of this country can solve its problems. I still believe the answer to any problem lies with the people. I believe in state's rights and I believe in people doing as much as they can for themselves at the community level and at the private level. I believe we have distorted the balance of our government today by giving powers that were never intended to be given in the Constitution to that federal establishment.
""""

That's Racist!

Here's what TNR said about it back then.

"President Carter has made a grave moral error in trying to portray Ronald Reagan as a racist."

AJ Lynch said...

Nnja Pirate:

I agree Wilentz is twisting history like all good liberal history profs do.

I wonder why the article does not include Wilentz fulltime job as a history prof at Princeton. Plus his Wikipedia entry says he is a "family friend" of Bill Clinton. Wikie could be wrong I know.

Althouse, why don't colleges limit the types of extra-curricular and money-making gigs professors do?

It is apparent many professors have a lot of free time on their hands and they have turned themselves into pundits, think tanks, etc.

former law student said...

Wilentz sounds like a volunteer spinmeister. (And why Sean Wilentz? Sounds as discordant as Helmut O'Casey)

Anyhow, HRC does intend to penalize those who don't sign up for Hillary care, unless you don't count having your wages garnished a penalty. I'll tell you: when my checks start bouncing because Hillary sucked money out of my account, I will consider that a penalty.

Bill did trivialize Barack's accomplishment by comparing it to Jesse Jackson's -- whose campaign fizzled out when he ran out of states full of black voters. And if Hillary wasn't making a point that it took a Bubba President to secure rights for blacks, instead of a black speechifier, what was the point of her remark?

Fen said...

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.

Is this what we can expect of a President Obama? Congress rejects his budget and next day he "finds" a noose nailed to his door?

Mortimer Brezny said...

Is this what we can expect of a President Obama? Congress rejects his budget and next day he "finds" a noose nailed to his door?

You might try actually taking your medication.

Fen said...

Right back at ya bitch.

[Obama] strategists turned the primary and caucus race to their advantage when they deliberately, falsely, and successfully portrayed Clinton and her campaign as unscrupulous race-baiters

You're cool with that? Of course, since you're too feeble to make a counterpoint, you have to go for the personal attack.

Fen said...

Hey Mort, are you one of those Enlightened Folk who vandalize their own vehicle and then play the victim of a hate crime?

"I'm going to restore racial relations"... Ya right.

Glenn Kenny said...

I used to respect WIlentz, but that piece makes him look like he's dying to by Hillary's own SIdney Blumenthal. Pathetic.

Roger said...

I think AJ Lynch and Rossi nail it: Wilenz was hoping to be Hillarys' Sorenson--Alas, he will have to stay at Princeton. And Rossi points out very accurately: Wilenz offers not a shred of proof; only assertion. Wilenz is a hghly politicized historian, which makes him a partisan sycophant and not a credible historian.

Ken said...

Sorry Ann, but Willentz is right. Obama made this a racial campaign long before Slick Willy said a word. It is inherent in his rhetoric, and was quite explicit in some of his speeches ("Yes we can!")