Is the Obama campaign trying to propagate the racial narrative to their benefit?
I do not like people using racially insensitive remarks and being a person of color it does bother me. After 9/11 I was the one who was always picked out of airport lines for random security checks. I am still the one who is stopped by cops to see whether I have valid license and people like me are still threatened with deportation everyday even though I am as much a part of this country as any other guy. So yes I am sensitive to race. So when does racial politics cross the line?
I was stunned and profoundly shocked by the words of Bill Shaheen and I am glad that he was fired from the Clinton campaign, but since then it seems every innocuous comment uttered by anyone remotely affiliated or even sometimes unaffiliated but associated to the Clintons is being used by the press to promote a racial narrative. The media would love to make this race not about a woman and a minority but a race between a black and a white candidate. That race has the potential to sell more newspapers and get more attention. Hell just yesterday there were three diaries on DailyKos with inflammatory headlines: "On Being A Good Negro", "Bill Clinton and His Hideous Racist Bile" and "My Hip Black Friend". I guess it is only in our basal nature to use the most inflammatory remarks to promote ourselves. I hold the press responsible for promoting this narrative, most of which is completely fabricated. I link to my previous diarythat lists the press fabricated narratives vis-a-vis race. The incidents I refer to are Bill Clinton's fairy tale (which turned out to be a false narrative), Hillary's dissing of MLK (which turned out to be a careful cropping of a quote to make a sensational story), the Guardian's quoting of an anonymous 'Clinton adviser' (how can one quote an unnamed person and still expect people to believe them is beyond me), the now infamous NYT opinion piece that seems to say that all the blue-collared voters for Hillary at the New Hampshire primary are racist and finally the stupendously out-of-context cropping of a quote by Andrew Cuomo who is not even remotely affiliated to the Clinton campaign but a Hillary supporter who was caught using the phrase 'shuck and jive' during a radio interview (someone should tell these NY suits not to talk like hipsters, does not suit them). Even today the media narrative is that Hillary is courting the Hispanic community as a firewall because the Hispanic community is apathetic to a black presidential candidate. How about the truth for once? The Hispanic community is the largest minority community in the USA! Should we not prize that voting bloc which has traditionally been Republican but has been alienated by the recent anti-immigration stand of the Republican party?
But what has now happened is instead of letting these false rumors die and holding the media responsible for introducing the racial factor into a race whose primary narrative should have been a race between a minority candidate and a woman (hell look at the Republicans..do you see any diversity there?) Obama's campaign has decided to use these stories to their advantage. They have issued a memo pushing this narrative. Is it a cynical exploitation of the media narrative? Yes it is. What got my attention to this was this article at the Huffington Post which is known for its pro-Obama leanings with Ariana Huffington herself campaigning for Obama in NH. Here is a quote from Sam Stein's article:
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.
What exactly is there in this memo? (MyDD)
MARTIN LUTHER KING / LYNDON JOHNSON COMPARISON
Clinton, Criticizing Obama For Promising "False Hope" Said That While MLK Jr. Spoke On Behalf Of Civil Rights, President Lyndon Johnson Was The One Who Got Legislation Passed: "It Took A President To Get It Done." Clinton rejoined the running argument over hope and "false hope" in an interview in Dover this afternoon, reminding Fox's Major Garrett that while Martin Luther King Jr. spoke on behalf of civil rights, President Lyndon Johnson was the one who got the legislation passed. ... .. [Politico, 1/7/08; Video]
Clinton Introducer Said JFK Gave Hope, But Was Assassinated. Clinton introducer: "If you look back, some people have been comparing one of the other candidates to JFK and he was a wonderful leader, he gave us a lot of hope but he was assassinated and Lyndon Baines Johnson actually did all his work and got the republicans to pass all those measures." [HRC, Dover, NH, 1/7/08] AUDIO ATTACHED
Bill Clinton Implied Hillary Clinton Is Stronger Than Nelson Mandela. "I have been blessed in my life to know some of the greatest figures of the last hundred years. [...] I go to Nelson Mandela's birthday party every year and we're still very close. [...] But if you said to me, 'You've got one last job for your country but it's hazardous and you may not get out with life and limb intact and you have to do it alone except I'll let you take one other person, and I had to pick one person whom I knew who would never blink, who would never turn back, who would make great decisions [...] I would pick Hillary.'" [ABC News, 1/7/08; Audio]
Clinton's NH Campaign Chair Raised The Youthful Drug Use Of Obama And Said It Would "Open The Door To Further Queries On The Matter." Clinton's Campaign Issued A Statement Distancing Themselves From Shaheen's Comments And Shaheen Issued A Statement Saying That He "Deeply Regret[s] The Comments." ... .. "There are so many openings for Republican dirty tricks. ... .. Clinton campaign spokesman Phil Singer had issued a statement asserting that "these comments were not authorized or condoned by the campaign in any way." And Shaheen himself issued a statement: "I deeply regret the comments I made today and they were not authorized by the campaign in any way." [ABC News, 12/12/07]
... ... --snip-- ... ...
South Carolina Press Secretary
Obama for America
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I find that there is something very wrong in our national electoral process and our primary process when the standard for choosing a candidate switches from the issues and policies being espoused by them to their race or gender. We should choose our candidates on the merits of their position. Maybe this primary will be decided by the media narrative of race and gender (sadly enough Hillary has tried to capitalize on the gender issue as well and she has been subject to sexist attacks too). Maybe we will all play along silently. I hope I am wrong but I am skeptical.