Thursday, January 24, 2008

Bill Clinton shaken by comparisons to Lee Atwater and Karl Rove

Bill Clinton is having a meltdown:
DILLON, S.C. - Bill Clinton said Wednesday he expects blacks to vote for Barack Obama and women to vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton, and the dynamic may cause his wife to lose the South Carolina Democratic presidential primary Saturday.

The comments by the former president — who also lashed out at Obama and the news media — mark one of the starkest commentaries yet on the possible role of race, although it has been a subtext of the Obama-Clinton rivalry for months. The comments also furthered the Clintons' bid to play down Sen. Clinton's chances of winning in a state where Obama seems to be ahead.[1]
There is so much wrong with Clinton's response that it's hard to know where to begin. Is he implying that Blacks are racists who can't look beyond Barack Obama's race? Is he implying that Obama, a Black, is somehow unworthy of the presidency? What about women? Are they incapable of voting for anyone other than another woman? Are they incapable of making an informed choice based on their examination of the facts?

As far as Hillary Clinton's collapsing numbers among African Americans goes, common sense would make it obvious to anyone that the Clintons are suffering a backlash from the false and negative attacks they have been aiming at Barack Obama since he won the Iowa caucuses. Since that night, the Clintons have run a negative campaign that would make Karl Rove or Lee Atwater blush.

In particular, there is a growing recognition that Hillary Clinton used dogwhistle tactics to exploit latent anti-Black racism among Latinos in New Hampshire and Nevada. Add to that over 1,600 allegations of electoral misconduct by the Clinton campaign in Nevada, and you have plenty of grounds for discontent among African Americans, particularly those in South Carolina.

If that were not bad enough, you had Hillary's notorious gaffe in which she implied that Martin Luther King, Jr. was just a big talker (like Obama) and it took a mover and shaker like Lyndon B. Johnson (and Hillary) to actually get civil rights legislation passed. All of this happened just before the annual observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, when African American voters got a chance to compare Obama and the Clintons up close and personal.

Bill Clinton fell asleep in the middle of the memorial service he attended (yawn).

Now compare that to Barack Obama, who took the time to write and deliver one of the most inspirational American political speeches in living memory:

That's a pretty stark comparison by anyone's standards.

So instead of lashing out at reporters, maybe the Clintons need to look beyond race and gender for an explanation of their sinking numbers in South Carolina and among African Americans nationwide. Perhaps the Clintons would do well to examine their own behavior (false attacks, lies about Obama, and so on) and make some appropriate adjustments before it is too late.

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