March 13, 2008

ONCE IT'S DOWN TO TRIBES, WHAT'S THE POINT OF HELPING THE ENEMY TRIBE?:

Racial issue bubbles up again for U.S. Democrats (Patrick Healy and Jeff Zeleny, March 13, 2008, NY Times)

Clinton's advisers said Wednesday that they were concerned about her standing among blacks, once a core constituency for her and her husband, but that they also believed that black support for Obama was a foregone conclusion at this point.

They said they were wrestling with ways to make inroads with blacks in Pennsylvania, which holds the next primary, on April 22.

Clinton's reluctance to sideline Ferraro, who made her comments last week to The Daily Breeze in Torrance, California, left the specter of race hanging over the Democratic contest.

That decision drew a sharp rebuke on Wednesday from the Rev. Al Sharpton, the black political leader in New York and a former presidential candidate, who questioned whether Clinton's campaign was keeping the issue alive as a way to win white votes in Pennsylvania.

In addition to Ferraro's remark, Sharpton cited Clinton's decision not to fire her top ally in Pennsylvania, Governor Edward Rendell, for saying in February that some white voters there were "probably not ready to vote for an African-American candidate."

"When you hear the lack of total denunciation of Ferraro, when you hear Rendell saying there are whites who will never vote for a black, one has to wonder if the Clinton campaign has a Pennsylvania strategy to appeal to voters on race," Sharpton said in an interview. "I would hope Mrs. Clinton would make it clear that she is not doing that."


When she's getting only a Republican-size portion of the black vote, what's the downside to her--just in terms of electoral politics--of trying to maximize her white support? That's the ugly can of worms that their identity politics opens up. To their credit, Republican presidential candidates of the past several decades have eschewed such tribalism even though they've lost the black vote by the same sorts of margins. That's the difference that their quintessentially American/Judeo-Christian universalism makes.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 13, 2008 8:35 AM
Comments

Big win for Clinton. Having Al Sharpton defending you is infinitely worse than having Geraldine Ferraro defend you. He's pure political poison. Given that he himself knows that, one must speculate whether he's actually a part of the Clinton plan to undermine Obama.

Posted by: b at March 13, 2008 10:24 AM

To their credit, Republican presidential candidates of the past several decades have eschewed such tribalism...

I don't think you'll get a whole lot of agreement with that statement.

Posted by: Brandon at March 13, 2008 10:44 AM

I don't agree that whites in PA would not vote for an African-American. But I agree that Obama has nothing to distinguish himself except his race. John Edwards has a better resume.

Posted by: ic at March 13, 2008 2:05 PM

ic, Dan Quayle had a more substantial resume.

Posted by: Mikey [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 13, 2008 2:29 PM

The nominees haven't just been open borders and philosemitic but have courted blacks. This despite the latter two groups spitting at them.

Posted by: oj at March 13, 2008 6:04 PM
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