Beyond the pale on race

As someone who has in many ways (although not in all of them) been a longterm admirer of Bill Clinton, I find myself increasingly disappointed by his actions in his wife’s campaign.

But you know what? At the end of the day that’s just my tough luck. It’s for the Clintons to decide how best to utilize this very potent weapon in their arsenal. And if I don’t like it, I don’t have to support her for the nomination).

But some things are simply beyond the pale. And this is one of them.

(AP) Bill Clinton: Race, gender key in 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.

Voting for president along racial and gender lines “is understandable because people are proud when someone who they identify with emerges for the first time,” the former president told a Charleston audience while campaigning for his wife.

Let me state this as strongly and clearly as I can. For either the Clinton campaign or the media to try to discount the results of the South Carolina primary (if Obama wins) because, “after all, it was just a bunch of black folks voting for another black person” is racist and morally wrong.

These aren’t black voters; they’re Democratic voters.

Sure, it’s fine to consider how race may be playing into the results, just as it’s fine to consider how gender may play in. But taking the discussion to the next step of using that to “play down” the importance of the vote is not fine. It is not fine at all. And we’re hearing that very suggestion being made quite often now by both the media and the Clinton campaign and, even speaking as a white man, I find it deeply offensive. It needs to stop.

Update: I guess I need to make this clearer. There is nothing wrong with noting, discussing and analyzing black support for Obama.  What’s beyond the pale, is implying that the vote in South Carolina — assuming it goes Obama’s way, which is not a foregone conclusion — is somehow less meaningful because of the unusually large number of black voters there.

This type of subtle racism is far from unique to this one primary. It often appears, for example, under the guise of commentary making a big deal over how “dependent” Democrats are on the black vote — how without it the party would have almost no chance of winning a national election. There’s often an unmistakable undercurrent to such comments suggesting that black votes are somehow less worthy than white votes. 

Atrios, for one, has often made this point.  

3 Responses to “Beyond the pale on race”

  1. alwayshope Says:

    Race and gender issues bring out the worst in us.
    But, any attempt at self-knowledge has to include prejudices, biases and preferences. Maybe we need to have this discussion now, air out the dirty laundry and call names and whine and put this childishness in perspective.
    If we end up with Hillary or Barack, race and/or gender will be a big issue.
    Most in the GOP will prefer a white man and that will be enough to ensure the votes of others in their base but they need more than their base. They need to convince Indies to be afraid of a woman or a black man. I doubt they will be subtle about it. Clinton’s remarks will seem tame by the time the swifties and the Limpbaughs get down it.
    We thought Katrina may have been an awakening but Americans were able to put their heads back into the sand. We need to have this discussion someday.
    Maybe the best thing to do with the race card is throw it on the table now and see what happens. Does it divide our party? I think only in the short term. That’s the beauty of the Democrats. The republicans have few African Americans or women to worry about so they will, in essence, be saying, “If you want a white man vote for us.” A lot of Independents may say, ” Been there, done that.”

  2. johncp Says:

    Buzzflash clearly, doesn’t know what to do here. You have conflicting interests, and you’re showing your own pathetic biases in the process. Obama is a polititian. Most of the voters in SC are Blacks. Most of them are voting for Obama. These are the facts, pure and simple. It isn’t making “a big thing” out of the “fact” that such a huge Black population is creating a huge vote or Obama. It has nothing to do with Edwards either. If Edwards were the only white candidate on the ballot, with Obama, Obama would still get a huge majority of the vote. The reality is, that “race,” a completely discredited term in hard science, has dominated the vote in SC, not because it has such a profound natural influence, but because media, anxious always to destroy and discredit the Clintons, fanned the flames of racism to the disadvantage of the Clintons. Now MSM, and ironically Buzzflash, are worried that voters will discredit Obama’s win in SC, as, obviously, a consequence of the huge percentage of Black voters there. But the embarrassing reality is, that race is virtually all that accounts for it. Media are not making nearly as much of the other reality, that Obama falls “behind,” even Edwards, when his share of the white vote is polled. Charlie Rangle claims that Obama started the race furor, in an effort to take away the advantage the Clintons had in this part of the electorate. Is he lying? Is he wrong? Is he less Black than Obama, or is he more Black than Obama? Buzzflash is out of control on this issue. You’re attacking the Clintons as blindly as MSM are. Why has Michae Moore withdrawn his support for Obama? Why did Kucinich, who has just dropped out of the race, suddenly changed his mind about supporting Obama, and is now “not endorsing anyone?” Why have MSM been unwilling to scrutinize Obama as much as they have Hillary; was it an oversight? Why is Buzzflash in bed with MSM in attacking the Hillary candidacy? Why are media lying about Hillary’s strength in the campaign, telling the public that she’s neck and neck nationally with Obama, when a just released poll shows her in double digits ahead of Obama nationally? Why have media lied about Hillary’s strength against republican candidates, based on a poll sponsored by CNN, the most virulent anti-Clintons in media, claiming she’d lose to them, and is weaker than other democrats when facing the republicans, when recent and old polls, which have received no attention in media, show precisely the opposite? Why are so many chat lists on the internet, including your own, brimming over with anti-Hillary posts, by a ratio of something like 12 against Hillary, to 1 in support, when the electorate, now, after a year of considering the candidates, still give Hillary a huge advantage? Maybe Buzzflash doesn’t have it all figured out.

  3. alwayshope Says:

    Much better comment. Thanks for not calling us fools and hateful idiots!
    I can’t and wouldn’t try to speak for anyone else here, but for me…..I’m trying hard to keep an open mind about this campaign. But, don’t you have to admit that as emotional, passionate liberals, we shouldn’t be flogged for expressing our frustration at the tone of the debate lately?
    Obama is just as much to blame as the Hillary camp for the lack of civility here. The whole process is grueling and the press is waiting breathlessly for the “scream” moment so they can take down either of these candidates.
    You are right, we don’t help when we rant about Hillary but hey, this is a place where we forgive each other for rants, deserved or not. It’s a place to vent and debate and reach out to others who are worried sick about the state of our democracy.
    Instead of beating us over the head about our anti-clinton rants, how about trying to convince us that she is right for America.
    Do you think she is a better choice or a more electable choice?
    Do you trust her on foreign policy?
    Can she work with a Congress where obstructionism and that lazy, pretend filibuster thing will be the norm?
    As a woman, I am not opposed to breaking that glass ceiling at all but I’d like to know that she can handle the new smears along with all the old baggage she carries. We don’t even know the full extent of the damage the current administration has done to our sytems of justice and governance!
    It would be so easy for the republicans to block all meaningful legislation and lay the blame for their own failings on a woman they love to hate.
    She is devisive. You can read it in posts from liberals on these pages. Isn’t that a “fact” to consider? We are going to need unity of purpose in this country if we are to survive the coming storms of global climate change, disease, poverty and war. Can Hillary unite America when her own party is so reluctant to support her whole-heartedly? She needs to do more and you need to tell us why she is the best woman for the job. I’d love to quit wavering and support one or the other with enthusiasm, but they both just keep ticking me off. Why aren’t they bashing bush instead of each other?!

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