Friday, April 4, 2008

Clinton Employing Racist Attacks?

by: Harry Waisbren

During last week’s show, our incredible panel debated whether or not Hillary Clinton has been using racially inspired attacks during the campaign. Both Abha and Rev. Haslanger adamantly disagreed with my assertion that Clinton had crossed a line, and Rev. Haslanger made a particularly good point that the rancor of such attacks can be exaggerated by the echo chamber of surrogates spinning anything that either candidate does. However, I maintain that despite the spinning there is clearly enough evidence of campaign malfeasance that his theory does not adequately exonerate Clinton.

In fact, I am far from the only one who has come to this conclusion. Sen. Ted Kennedy professed this same disappointment prior to his endorsement of Obama, as the New York Times reports that he had become “furious by the tone of the Democratic campaign, including the words and actions of former President Bill Clinton.” It certainly is no stretch to say that Kennedy’s fury was the result of what had been very recent statements from Bill in South Carolina that many deemed to be racist.

Keith Olbermann also adamantly denounced the Clinton campaign strategy following Hillary's period of innaction in respone to the racially tinged statements from Clinton surrogate Geraldine Ferraro. In fact, Olbermann devoted an entire special comment to the direction of the Hillary Clinton campaign and her increasingly negative attacks on Obama. Olbermann went so far as to say proclaim “Senator, you are now campaigning, as if Barack Obama were the Democrat, and you… were the Republican.”

These attacks continued following the Ferraro outcry, including Hillary jumping on the bandwagon of the racist free for all against Jeremiah Wright. Clinton used Wright in her negotiations with superdelagates, and reportedly suggested that Obama could not win because of the controversy. Clinton went so far with these racist attacks that even a major Clinton ally wrote that Clinton owes Obama an apology.

Now I do not believe that Bill or Hillary Clinton are either remotely racist. However, she is clearly getting horrible advice from her campaign staff, and she has yet to rectify the tragic direction that her campaign has went. In fact, her advisers have given her such irresponsible advice that Bill Richardson cited them specifically as a reason why he decided to endorse Obama despite his long history with and past loyalty to the Clintons.

Clinton has been convinced to take her “kitchen sink” approach way too far, to the extent that I have lost deep respect for both of them. As I argued during the show, instead of employing such divisive and reprehensible tactics, Hillary should have tried to catch up to Obama by making a speech on gender like he did on race. I cited my previous post regarding the gender bias against Clinton being just as transparent as the race bias against Obama, and Hillary clearly had just as much incentive as Obama did to call for a higher level of discourse during a history making presidential campaign.

The country is desperate for change in this coming election, and Clinton using old biases and triangulation strategies is just not going to cut it. Perhaps this is part of the reason why Clinton's approval ratings have been plummeting and why she has seen her superdelegate lead almost completely erased.

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