Sunday, January 27, 2008

UPDATED: Is It Racist to Mention Jesse Jackson?

Edit: Not only did Bill Clinton not say anything wrong with the quote people have been viewing, the video has evidently been edited to eliminate the question the reporter actually asked Bill, basically asking Bill if Obama could win as a Black candidate. That was the question Bill was responding to. For more on this, see Mike Pridmore's blog on MyDD: Clinton's comment about Jackson manufactured by media?

This simply emphasizes that the media is intent on destroying the Clintons, and they will use any filthy tricks they can to do so. In the context of the question, Bill's answer becomes even more reasonable.



I'm sorry, but all the hyper-ventilation over Bill Clinton stating God's own truth - that Jesse Jackson did darn well not once but twice in South Carolina - needs to stop. Clinton made a perfectly valid, if politically strategic, observation.

The argument from the outraged parties seesm to be that if either Clinton (but especially Bill) makes mention of anything that has even a hint of racial emphasis or analysis in it, they are doing something so far beyond the political pale that we need to just crucify them NOW before they destroy the nation's soul any further. Will no one think of the children? (staggers to fainting counch with the vapors)

Please, just fuck off. Bill Clinton made exactly the right point and Obama's defenders are playing into the worst of the Right-wing racist tropes, that there is something tainted about successful black candidates who get majority black support.

Clinton was challenged by a reporter to explain HRC's 2-to-1 loss in the primary. Big Dog responded in a perfectly reasonable way - present the facts and give it a spin to favor his own candidate. Here's the facts:
  • South Carolina Democrats are majority African American.
  • They have fought tooth and nail to get and keep their enfranchisement, despite savage opposition from whites, both Democrat and Republican.
  • They are determined to support qualified black candidates and they are determined to support viable Democratic candidates.
  • At the start of the campaign, there were doubts among all Democrats about Obama's viability as a national candidate. As the campaign went on, the doubt subsided, and he solidified his support.
  • A qualified black Democratic candidate in South Carolina is going to get the majority of the black vote. How do we know this? Jesse Jackson's great performances here in 1984 and 1988.
  • Thus, no one should be surprised that Obama did extremely well among AA Democrats in South Carolina. Pleased, excited, satisified, affirmed, yes. Surprised, no.
  • And, therefore, HRC's 20% support by AA Democrats needs to seen in this light. She was up against a strong competitor who for a variety of historical and demographic reasons had an incredible advantage in this primary.

From my perspective, Jackson is a far more historical and groundbreaking candidate than Obama. He walked into the middle of the fray at the height of the Republican's "Southern Strategy" and refused to dissemble on either his race or his liberal political stance. He presented his case and he not only won South Carolina, he also won Michigan. And then he won a bunch more states. He didn't get the nomination, but he made the Democratic party sit up and take notice that black Democrats weren't ornamental or to be taken for granted. They had clout, they had a voice, and they could put a candidate up who could compete. For example, South Carolina is one of the early primaries in most part because of Jackson and his demand that the party stop taking the black vote for granted.

The strategic part of Clinton's analysis, of course, was to make the listeners reflect on the course of Jackson's campaigns, to engage in their own comparison and constrast between Jackson and Obama. Obama's supporters are giving away the store with their caterwauling. They agree with the right-wing and the MSM that there's something wrong with getting the majority of the black vote and having that be the margin of victory. This is a mirror image of the way they attacked New Hampshire female voters for supporting HRC, trying to belittle and dismiss female voter preference.

Trying to deracinate your own candidate on the national level while taking advantage of local or regional race politics (notice that is NOT the same as racism) is what Clinton called out, and rightly so. Go read any of the pro-Obama bloggers and really look at what pisses them off over the statement. They are furious that Clinton made clear the racial breakdown of Obama's support. They were happy to yell to the rooftops that their guy won in "lily white Iowa" but they won't accept the flip-side - that he wins even bigger in black SC. They hate having it made obvious that Obama will not enjoy this demographic advantage again. They really hate having Obama connected to Jackson, even as Jesse Jackson Jr. is part of the Obama campaign and responsible for the single most egregiously racist statement uttered by any participant.

Tell you what, when JJ Jr. is fired for his Katrina comments, and Axelrod dismissed for his Bhutto statement, and Obama goes on national TV to apologize for the "D- Punjab" racial slur, and the Obama campaign agrees to never again use sexism as a campaign tool, then I will be first in line to demand Bill Clinton quit being a tough, forceful, aggressive advocate for HRC.



Anonymous said...

This will only come back to bite Obama in the ass. The general population tends not to like militant politicians who get offended each time a white person mentions the name of a famous black activist. And this isn't only any white person. It's Bill Clinton. Whether Obama supporters like it or not the guy was our former president and still has an approval rating around 80% with Democrats. Most people probably think it is absurd that anyone is attempting to label him as a racist. I'm really not worried about all of this anymore. Obama is beginning to lose his luster and must take most of the blame for turning himself into the "black candidate". It's the beginning of the end for his campaign.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Obama wants to have it both ways. He wants to be postracial when he's competing in white states, but then he's suddenly the black candidate in South Carolina. In fact, this whole episode of supposed racial statements being made came up leading into South Carolina. How very convenient! He may think no one noticed. But he would be wrong.