Sunday, February 17, 2008

Keeping blacks in the Democratic Party

For some of you probably an odd ball statement but one worth considering. That's the underlying argument in this Pajama's Media article. Bill Clinton's willingness to gamble the Democratic Party's most faithful constituency so that he can return to the White House with his wife. Here's quote...
Nearly two weeks after a crime had been committed in South Carolina, the prime suspect, Bill Clinton, was finally “tracked down at a local diner” in Maine February 8. Wagging his familiar finger, Clinton informed a reporter from Maine TV station WCSH that he “learned a very valuable lesson. … I have to let her defend herself.” And just in case the old familiar wagging finger was not enough, Bill added the biggest whopper of all: “I don’t want to be the story.”

But if the polls are to be believed, hiding Bill up in Maine was too little, too late. Democrats are abandoning Bill Clinton — and Hillary — like rats from a sinking ship. The Clinton-Obama near-tie on Super Tuesday was the line of Obama’s ascent crossing that of Hillary Clinton’s demise. Barack Obama has proceeded to defeat Hillary in every state since. Bill Clinton’s power is no longer “crackling through his jeans.” The sudden loss is the Clintons’ Ceausescu moment.

Is racism the unforgivable crime finally ending Democrats’ 16-year love affair with Bill Clinton? No, it’s worse: from New Hampshire to South Carolina, Clinton’s carefully calculated and racially tinged attacks on Obama risked setting black America free from the Democrat Party.

It was the 1960 presidential campaign of John F. Kennedy which brought the majority of black voters out of the Republican camp and into the Democrat Party — for 95 years the party of segregation and before that the party of slavery. In spite of the fact that Republican support was required to overcome Democrat segregationists in both houses of Congress, President Lyndon Johnson’s role in forcing passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Act sealed the deal. But black voters are also Democrats’ Achilles heel. Even a 10-20% shift by black voters back to the Party of Lincoln could prove fatal to the Democrats. History lessons won’t do that, but Clinton’s big mouth could.

Bill Clinton’s campaign strategy comes right out of Hillary’s infamous and long-hidden 1969 senior thesis on radical organizer Saul Alinsky. Alinsky’s 13th Rule for Radicals is: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” For three weeks in January, the Clintons and their backers did their best to polarize non-black Democrat voters against Obama, bringing up Obama’s admitted past drug use and firing off one-liners like “Lyndon Johnson,” “fairy-tale,” “shuck and jive,” and “spade work” to increasing choruses of anger from liberals and conservatives alike.

But it backfired. America’s leading radio host Rush Limbaugh focused the spotlight on the racially divisive subtext of what he called the Democrats’ “uncivil war.” Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) apparently phoned Clinton several times warning him to tone it down. Al Sharpton said Clinton should “shut up.” But Clinton took no heed, willing to gamble his own party for a return to the White House.

Going after black senators is a long Clinton tradition. Life Magazine gave Hillary an initial taste of nationwide media exposure after her 1969 Wellesley commencement speech in which she denounced the first black man to be elected to the U.S. Senate in 100 years. But that was different. Her target then was a Republican, Sen. Edward Brooke of Massachusetts.

Today’s Clinton problem is not that their remarks are perceived as racist or as racially divisive. The problem is that they could drive some black voters out of the Democrat camp. In the eyes of Democrats, the Clinton attacks on Obama are wrong for exactly the same reason that Hillary’s attack on Brooke was right.

Ted Kennedy himself once in 2005 famously appeared to slip and blurt out “Obama bin Laden”. But when three weeks of racially tinged Clinton remarks ended with Bill comparing Obama’s victory in South Carolina to those of Jesse Jackson in 1984 and 1988, Kennedy had heard enough. Endorsing Obama, Kennedy told a cheering Obama rally January 28, “With Barack Obama we will close the book on the old politics of race against race, gender against gender, ethnic group against ethnic group, and straight against gay.” Caroline Kennedy, in a January 27 New York Times essay, called Obama “a president like my father.” The Kennedys couldn’t deliver Massachusetts for Obama February 5, but that’s secondary. The focus is keeping the black vote Democratic.
This is something that Republicans are looking for but then they just have to be able to seize it. Not that I would have much faith in that, but who knows. Obama's candidacy might mess up the calculus a little and Sen. Clinton in her eagerness with win the nomination might have hurt herself in this race. We still have a few more primaries to go so we'll have to see what happens.

Hat-tip InstaPundit.

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