Thursday, January 31, 2008

No to Billary and the Politics of Division

There has been a lot of ink and paper used up to explain the South Carolina primary and what it means to the candidates and the electoral process. The two facts that I think South Carolina makes abundantly clear are that the voters are rejecting the politics of divisiveness and the idea of a co-Presidency. Now while much will be made of the fact that the majority of Democratic voters in South Carolina are black, I believe that there is still data that can be gleaned from the results and despite the fact Bill Clinton made absolutely clear that Jesse Jackson carried South Carolina the electorate today was different than when Jesse ran.

Despite protestations to the contrary by Clinton supporters many Democrats both black and white were uncomfortable with the tone the campaign had taken the last few weeks in South Carolina, led by Bill Clinton. The thing one must remember is that in politics perception is reality. So while many of his comments may have been misconstrued, the fact that a number of prominent Democrats were complaining should have been a clue to tone it down. I received many comments that Bill Clinton was only doing what the spouses of other candidates were doing, which of course is ridiculous. No matter how hard they try the other candidate’s spouses can never speak with the authority or the perceived expertise of a Bill Clinton. Many people thought that Bill had elevated himself to candidate Bill Clinton and not just husband-advocate Bill Clinton. The problem for Hillary is that having Bill Clinton out front detracts from her and her message of independence and experience.

Whether you believe the comments made by Bill and campaign surrogates were divisive or racially motivated is really unimportant, what is important is what the voters believed. In South Carolina, the voters believed that they were. Now it can be argued that the voters were swayed by the coverage and the responses of other Democrats, but that misses the point and sounds condescending. Are we to believe that the voters, the majority of who are black in South Carolina cannot determine for themselves what is divisive and racially charged? The thing that the Clinton campaign misread was the psyche of black people which is strange since Bill was the “first black” President. Blacks may have questions about another black person, but when that black person is attacked it is as if all black people are attacked and the wagons are circled. I find it hard to believe that the major events of last year would not have made this very clear to any outside observers.

The way you campaign in the black community is not with a white man attacking a black man, this will automatically raise the communal defenses. For examples of this phenomenon in action one merely has to review the history of black elected officials in America. From Adam Clayton Powell to Mayor Marion Berry, the black community will more often than not rally around a black man being attacked by whites even if those attacks are justified. Bill Clinton falsely believed that he had the juice to cross the race line; he found out sadly that he did not. He listened to the old blacks on the payroll who were chanting, you were “the first black” President, you can do it. Billary! Billary! Billary! What he didn’t recognize was that those blacks had lost any juice they had in the black community years ago and they were just as clueless as he was.

The other issue that the voters in South Carolina and I think may be played out across the country is this idea of a co-Presidency. While many Clinton supporters find the idea appealing, the two for the price of one argument has lost its luster. The idea of a co-Presidency congers up too many images of divisiveness and past battles. To give an example after the defeat in South Carolina, the first Clinton on the airwaves was not Hillary, it was Bill. And even after the primary Bill is still making more headlines than Hillary. This does not bode well for an independent female candidate running on her own experience and strength. It is too early to tell if the co-Presidency is dead, but for many it is a past they do not want recycled. Many people believe that if Bill is taking such a large role in the campaign will he also be taking a similar role in the White House? Also, if Hillary was co-President in the last Clinton administration it only stands to reason that Bill would occupy that same position in the new administration.

South Carolina is one state and too often people try to draw too many conclusions from one primary, remember Iowa? The one thing the Clintons are is smart and once again Hillary will reinvent herself and continue to fight. This election will not play out like past ones there are just too many dynamics at play, dynamics that have never been in play on such a large scale before. Anyone who claims to know the outcome is a fool. This electorate is too volatile and the issues too explosive to be able to predict or to rely on polls. Hillary will have to rein Bill in and once again become the focal point. This election is hers to win or lose. Relying on Bill’s popularity as we have seen in South Carolina is a two-edged sword; if I were Hillary I would use that sword sparingly.

1 comment:

CLA123 said...

I have to say that I feel that the media is pushing the race card to discredit both Hillary and Bill Clinton. I am not looking at either candidate for their race or gender. I am looking at the candidate who has the MOSt experience to run the white house. Not so much from day one but from experience. This country is in a shamble. Our school system is a disgrace all over the country, not just in South Carolina. In Michigan, where our votes will not count, the schools are going backrupt. And the first words that I heard Obama say in his acceptance speech was that we have to rebuild schools and infrastructures in foreign countries. We are broke, China owns us financially. We need someone to worry about us right now. We have lost 1000s of jobs to outsourcing by greedy companies and 1000s more to illegal aliens. I do not have a problem with legal aliens doing it the right way but I do with illegal aliens and even more, those employers who hire them. I hadn't looked at it like this before but they are exploiting them. They are hiring them for dog wages, no benefits or insurance, etc. Not only are they taking American jobs but they are taking legal aliens jobs. Believe me, familieis are losing their homes, their jobs, etc. The majority of these jobs taken by illegals would be taken by Americans and legals.
I am also upset that the Media is covering this in such a slanted way. Lets look at this. First the DNC picks and chooses which states can move their elections. They allow Nevada to move theirs and also set up caucuses in ONLY the casinos represented by the unions that have endorsed Obama. Next comes Michigan. This is a very strong Clinton state, as is Florida. The delegates are taken away because they moved their date without DNC permission. The voters didn't do it and I am one of those voters. Hmm, who did this hurt. Who would have had the edge at this point? OK, I could understand this but they then move up South Carolina openly stating, YES STATING, that it was done to encourage African Americans to vote - now who does this favor. Then comes Florida - another Clinton state and another state denies their delegates. New Hampshire was a fluke, it was supposed to go strongly to Obama. THIS IS ALL JUST A LITTLE TOO POLITICAL FOR ME. NOW THE PRESS: Clinton said that MLK was able to realize his dreams, his life's work after it was finally was passed into legislation by Johnson. WHAT IS RACIAL ABOUT THAT? The fact is not only that both Obama and Clinton are where they are today because of MLKs efforts but they are also their because of the legislation passed by Johnson. There is nothing racial about that.

And the Kennedy's. I find this all to be a bunch of bull. The media and Kennedy make it appear that Kennedy only endorsed Obama AFTER President Clinton made so many racial overtones in S.C. Not true. Kennedy has been grooming Obama for this day. They campaigned together for Kerry. Kennedy sponsored his father into America from Africa when he was a young man. He is no stranger to Obama. I take great offense to Ted Kennedy's use of our beloved JFK for political gain. Caroline was a small child. I understand that Barack is a wonderfully talented speaker and that he can easily convince the public that he can heal wounds but I seriously doubt that he will so easily convince congress or world leaders. It's going to take more than smiles and smooth talk to bring us back around to the respected, great nation that we were.

I do no understand how Obama can run on the idea that HE is an outsider to washington politics and that the country needs, right now, a president who is untainted, has not learned to lie, and has no allegiances to washington lobbyists or politicians and then has so many long-time politicians either in his pocket or he in theres. Look at it: His campaign manager is Daschle - former head of Senate, Washington politician for years. Then there is Kerry and Leahy, more long term politicians. Let's not forget Dean - head of the Democrat National Committe and then let's not forget the granddaddy politician of them all - Ted Kennedy. Do you realize that Dean, Kerry and Kennedy are all three unsuccessful candidates for president from the past? Does that make you wonder why they have chosen to support someone a little newer to the game. I wonder who will control the white house from day one - Obama or Kennedy. I am not kidding, I am serious. I just cannot see Kennedy coming out to say that ANYONE on this earth is like either of his brothers without a big price tag. I do not believe that he EVER considered endorsing Clinton. The only bigger ego in Washington than Bill Clinton is probably Ted Kennedy. I am amazed how many Kennedy's have decided that Obama is so like JFK or Bobby or MLK. Today I heard him compared to Eisenhower. He has some mighty big shoes to fill. I also take personal offense that Ted Kennedy thinks JFKs torch is his to pass. IT is not his to pass. It is only the peoples to pass on - after someone has PROVEN themselves a leader like JFK, not because someone said that they will be. I have no problem with Obama but I do have a problem with a candidate who consistently compares himself to greats - who all happen to be from the past, but has not yet proven himself or earned that special place in the hearts of all Americans.

In closing I would ask ALL voters to look beyond the bias of the Media who are selling airtime by exaggerating and slanting the issues, look beyond the endorsements and look beyond the unfair atrocities of the Democrat National Committee in denying over 2 million voters the right for their vote to count - yes, 2 million people cast votes on the democratic ballots in MIchigan and Florida and their vote will either not count or will be counted only at the convention AFTER it is too late to make a difference in the dynamics of the campaign. THIS IS JUST WRONG AND UNJUST. OUR CHILDREN HAVE DIED AT WAR TO PROTECT THESE SAME BASIC CONCEPTS OF DEMOCRACY THAT THE DNC HAS SHREDDED. LOOK AT EACH CANDIDATE CAREFULLY, LISTEN TO WHAT ONLY THEY SAY, NOT WHAT ANYONE REPORTS THEM TO HAVE SAID. JUDGE FOR YOURSELF WHETHER YOU FEEL THAT OBAMA OR CLINTON WILL BE THE BEST QUALIFIED TO CARRY OUT ALL OF THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE PRESIDENT OF OUR COUNTRY. WHO IS THE BEST TO WORK WITH CONGRESS, WHO HAS BEEN ABLE TO DO THIS IN THE PAST. WHO WILL BE ABLE TO CONTACT WORLD LEADERS AND WORK TO REGAIN THE DIGNITY AND RESPECT OF OUR COUNTRY WITHOUT HAVING TO BE INTRODUCED

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