This has been in play for a few days now and I think it’s actually quite humorous to see the Clinton’s, both Bill and Hillary, now defending and clarifying the comments they made in criticizing Obama.
First, Hillary’s comment likening Obama to Martin Luther King:
Mrs Clinton, trying to make a point about presidential leadership and Mr Obamaâ€™s constant references to Dr King, the civil rights icon, said: â€œDr Kingâ€™s dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It took a president to get it done.â€
Clearly insinuating that Obama, like King, is the dreamer and Hillary, like Johnson, is the doer. In the same token Obama’s camp is alleging she was diminishing King’s achievements in Civil Rights.
Next, following the same foot-in-mouth fashion, Bill Clinton likens Obama’s record to a “fairy tale”:
â€œSecond, it is wrong that Senator Obama got to go through 15 debates trumpeting his superior judgment and how he had been against the war in every year, numerating the years, and never got asked one time, not once, â€˜Well, how could you say, that when you said in 2004 you didnâ€™t know how you would have voted on the resolution? You said in 2004 there was no difference between you and George Bush on the war and you took that speech youâ€™re now running on off your website in 2004 and thereâ€™s no difference in your voting record and Hillaryâ€™s ever since?â€™ Give me a break.
â€œThis whole thing is the biggest fairy tale Iâ€™ve ever seen.â€ â€¦
To which Bill Clinton promptly began backtracking and clarifying his remarks. In liberal circles, a visit to Al Sharpton was in order to come clean and apologize for his comments.
Sharpton was on Geraldo At Large earlier and while I usually don’t care much for Geraldo or Sharpton, the two made a good fit on this story:
What’s funny to me on this is that I think both Bill and Hillary inadvertently stepped in it this week and, I think for the first time, the issue of race between Clinton and Obama came to light. I don’t think Hillary meant her comment in the way it was construed, she just meant that Johnson was the one to act on the progress of King. Of course King couldn’t change the law, he wasn’t a lawmaker but he started the movement. The same for poor old Bill, he was inferring that Obama’s record is a “fairy tale”, nothing to do with his race or candidacy.
Still, they had to apologize to Sharpton and play cleanup on the racial issue since they’re heading into South Carolina soon where African-American Democratic voters play a huge part in the primary. I don’t really think this is going to affect many voters as they can see what the Clinton’s really meant. However, the media has played it a bit bigger than it probably was. By the 19th, the day of the South Carolina primary, most will have totally forgot about this unless Obama can perpetuate it.
Actually, Obama may be playing the race card on the Clinton’s.
Story from the Huffington Post on Obama’s campaign circulating a memo highlighting what they consider the Clinton’s politicizing race:
Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign has prepared a detailed memo listing various instances in which it perceived Sen. Hillary Clinton’s campaign to have deliberately played the race card in the Democratic primary.
The memo, which was obtained by the Huffington Post and has been made public elsewhere, is believed to have been given to an activist and contains mostly excerpts from different media reports. It lists the contact info and name of Obama’s South Carolina press secretary, Amaya Smith, and is broken down into five incidents in which either Clinton, her husband Bill, or campaign surrogates made comments that could be interpreted as racially insensitive.
The document provides an indication that, in private, the Obama campaign is seeking to capitalize on the view – and push the narrative – that the Clintons are using race-related issues for political leverage. In public, the Obama campaign has denied that they are trying to propagate such a perception, noting that the document never was sent to the press.
True, it was leaked to the press, not distributed publicly, but the point is that they were propagating it to supporters who in turn would continue to propagate it in their communication with others. I guess the question here is whether or not Obama is above perpetuating false instances of race politics or whether the Clinton’s are indeed engaged in the tactic of politicizing race?
It doesn’t seem that Obama is wasting time in trying to capitalize on these incidents, at least to his close supporters. We’ll see how this issue continues to develop heading into South Carolina in 6 days.