January 15, 2008


The race card has been dealt (Roger Simon, January 15, 2008, Politico)

Hillary Clinton needs to draw black votes away from Obama, not just in places like South Carolina, where about 50 percent of the Democratic primary voters are black, but also in several states that hold contests on Feb. 5 and have significant numbers of minority voters.

In a larger sense, however, Clinton has to fight the notion, which Obama used successfully in Iowa, that a vote for him is an act of personal and national redemption.

“This is a defining moment,” Obama says in his stump speeches. “We are one nation, we are one people, and our time for change has come.”

And then he says: “There are folks all over the planet watching what we are doing.”

Translation: By voting for Barack Obama, you can prove to yourself, the nation and the world that you are not racist and that America has become a better place, a place decent enough to elect a black person to the presidency.

To the Clinton campaign, this is grossly unfair. When it is accused of playing the race card, it says Obama plays the race card every day.

No, not Brian Williams, Tim Russert and company, but 30 Rock. If you want to understand the Obama phenomenon you can do no better than look at him through Tina Fey's delightfully honest--and, therefore, politically incorrect--eyes.

The Wife and I have just gotten around to watching the first season--it took her a year to explain to me that it's a different show than that 60 Sunset Strip thing. Anyway, in back-to-back episodes Ms Fey ends up dating a black guy because she's afraid people will think she's a racist even if she breaks up with him because he's an empty suit, a guilt that he happily exploits. In the next, after attending an AA meeting to hear a prospective boyfriend discuss himself openly, she confesses things about herself, including the fact that while she's going to spend the next year going around telling everyone she's voting for Obama, "there's a 90% chance that when I get in the booth I'll vote for John McCain."

In running a quite intentionally idea-less campaign, Senator Obama is offering folks no other reason to vote for him except his being black and challenging his opponents to address that without getting themselves afoul of the PC media and punditocracy. It's an especially effective-- and cynical--ploy in the primaries, where alienating black voters matters. (Any Republican is going to get the 7% that W got in the general.) He's exactly like that character in 30 Rock trying to extort a romance. But he, and his party, run the risk that behind the PDA lies a private loathing that will only be revealed on Election Day. Guilt can't be the basis of a healthy relationship, with another individual or with the electorate.

Minority Reports: After New Hampshire, a hint of racial politics. (Ryan Lizza, January 21, 2008, The New Yorker)

Of all the worrisome trends that reappeared for Obama in New Hampshire, the most vexing may be the potential impact of race. Pollsters are trying to determine whether he experienced the so-called “Bradley effect.” In 1982, when the African-American mayor of Los Angeles, Tom Bradley, ran for governor, the final polls showed him with an average lead of eight points over his white Republican rival, George Deukmejian. And yet Deukmejian won, by a point. A similar phenomenon occurred in Virginia in 1989, when L. Douglas Wilder ran for governor against a white opponent, Marshall Coleman. He appeared to be leading by ten points but won by less than one. In both cases, white voters were more willing to tell pollsters that they supported the black candidate than they were to actually vote for him.

Did Obama experience a similar fate in New Hampshire? The evidence is murky, but his campaign believes the question is important enough to warrant study. When I asked a senior Obama adviser whether the Bradley effect was a possible explanation for the gap between the final poll numbers, which showed Obama leading by an average of eight points, and the ultimate outcome, he replied, “Definitely.” He added, “If so, then the question is: what’s different between Iowa and New Hampshire? It could be that the socially acceptable thing in front of your neighbor at a caucus could be different than what you do in a secret ballot. Obviously, that’s something we’re going to be trying to figure out as we go forward, primarily through polling. I know people are working on ways of asking questions about getting at people’s attitudes about race. We’re working on this.”

Since most voters won’t admit to having any racial bias, Obama’s campaign will have to be more creative with the questions they ask.

There's a very simple question you can ask to gauge the racial character of the race: what are three policy changes Senator Obama has said he will pursue if elected?

Recall that eight years ago, if you'd asked the same question about W (the eventual winner), it would have been easy for people to answer: cut taxes, test kids in school, privatize Social Security, and give government money to religious charitable organizations, just to name a few of the big ones.

But ask yourself--and most readers here follow politics to some considerable degree--what are Obama's issues? What does he want to change? What would be the point of his presidency?

Isn't the sole purpose of his candidacy to afford America an opportunity to vote for a black guy for no other reason than that he's black?

How is Hillary Clinton supposed to run against that without race entering the discussion?

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 15, 2008 12:29 PM

Ahh, but having helped forge the sword, she can hardly complain about the sharpness of the edge......

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at January 15, 2008 12:49 PM

1) Abandon Iraq, accept genocide if the alternative is American military casualties.
2) Invade Pakistan.
3) Unilateral nuclear disarmament.
4) Massive spending on new entitlements, particularly health care.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at January 15, 2008 1:13 PM

Hillary! is playing the "woman" card in the same way as Obama is playing the "race" card, and she's running a campaign that's just as content-free as his.

Posted by: Mike Morley at January 15, 2008 2:00 PM

"1) Abandon Iraq"

Yes that part is clear, the others he just accidently mentioned, and has tried to not re-mention.

Posted by: h-man at January 15, 2008 2:26 PM

(5) Baby-murder
(6) Gun-grabbing

Effendi Obama has said a great deal about "permission slip" foreign policy, so we have to add:

(7) Dump Israel

Reply Obj.: I know Chimpy has been saying things that could cause worry about #7, but these are just words.

Posted by: Lou Gots at January 15, 2008 4:40 PM

How can you stand Alec Baldwin?

Posted by: erp at January 15, 2008 6:37 PM

So basically, the moral of your story is to vote for, hire, promote and admit white men exclusively whenever a choice is presented.


And you WONDER why America has the problems it does?


Posted by: Cobra [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 15, 2008 7:41 PM

All of the above are correct, but erp: I know he's a jerk in real life, but he's really very funny on the show.

Posted by: PapayaSF at January 15, 2008 8:11 PM

He's the best part of the show. He's the arch-conservative/capitalist who's always right.

Posted by: oj at January 15, 2008 8:11 PM

As soon as Obama became a threat, the Clintons had to react to his race. It's all they can do.

Would Bill have given his Sister Souljah speech in 1992 had a credible black alternative been available?

Obama's rise has ironically exposed Hillary as being just as inexperienced as he is for high office. Being Bill's "partner" is no more of a resume than being an ambitious State Senator from the South Side of Chicago. Mike Morley is exactly right. The Democrats have to choose between their cherished identity symbols - an urbane black man or a white 'career' woman. The loser is going to be bitter.

And while the pundits yammer about having both of them on the ticket (as a step of 'healing'), this fight all but precludes it, and it also reminds the vast middle of the electorate of the inexperience involved. Having both Hillary and Obama on the ticket is a good way to get 42% of the vote, tops.

Posted by: ratbert at January 15, 2008 11:58 PM

No, you hire the people with the best ideas. Race isn't a good idea.

Posted by: oj at January 16, 2008 12:26 AM

Hey, when COBRA - that "ruthless terrorist organization determined to rule the world" is against you, you know you're onto something.

Posted by: Bryan at January 16, 2008 7:51 AM

Bill Clinton was trying to win the presidency, not the nomination, which required him to be anti-black, thus Sista Souljah, the execution and Welfare Reform.

Posted by: oj at January 16, 2008 10:31 AM

(8) ???
(9) Profit!

Posted by: Just John at January 16, 2008 5:03 PM

I largely don’t care much who endorses candidate I cant stand, such as clinton, or my choice, Ron Paul. If david duke is for nationalizing the Federal Reserve, that makes it bad?

If that same character D. duke, is for baseball.. it then becomes bad? it is a red herring argument to say that D Duke can tell me who I can vote for or not vote for. I'm voting for Ron Paul. As the stalinist dems and checker pants republicans have taught me over the last few election cycles... I will no longer waste my vote.

Obama, Clinton, McCain and Romney are all wall street candidates , you can have them. I vote for Paul. Each of those candidates is for the status quo. What status quo is that you ask? The USA is owned by the Fed Reserve and Wall Street and it must be in endless wars to back them up, and you pay for it, with your treasure and blood and your lost sovereignty.

look at this web site

and see who is funding who... you may not like what you see. but the truth will free your mind to think again,

a little fun test I did on that site.. type in my home zip code. 98052 (microshaft country) persons who claim to be humble "software engineers" give $2300 to each and every candidate.. aren’t they sweet.. supporting American democracy. or could it be they expect something in return.

Posted by: Scooter, Redmond WA at January 27, 2008 2:39 PM

There's not enough difference between Duke and Paul to argue.

Posted by: oj at January 27, 2008 5:43 PM