Best Democratic Primary Evar, Part 1,015
“I am not a racist,” Clinton said Monday in a testy interview with ABC News in Monrovia, Liberia, in response to a question that wasn’t quite related to that subject. “I’ve never made a racist comment, and I never attacked [Obama] personally.” […]
But regardless of the real meaning of Clinton’s words, and of Clinton’s long relationship with African-Americans, this is the rift between the Clinton and Obama camps that still cuts the deepest, and the one that may have the severest consequences for Obama’s White House bid. When John McCain’s campaign manager last week accused Obama of playing the “race card,” the Clintons or their supporters could have provided a powerful rebuttal. Instead they were silent, and in private, some even quietly cheered.
The depth of the anger in Clinton’s circle became clear Friday, when McCain’s chief strategist compared his candidate to Bill Clinton, and the Clintons seemed to accept the analogy.
“Say whatever you want about Bill Clinton, but it’s deeply unfair to suggest his criticism of Obama was race-based,” McCain adviser Steve Schmidt told Politico, after his campaign blasted Obama for suggesting the McCain campaign would use his race against him. “We knew it was coming in our direction because they did it against a president of the United States of their own party.”
I don’t believe for a minute that the Clinton campaign and especially Clinton surrogates and supporters didn’t have Obama’s skin color foremost in their thoughts when her numbers started slipping after Iowa. Democrats, especially Clinton supporters, would like to pretend that both candidates ran a clean primary, but there’s no way the phrases “shuck and jive” and “do the spadework” would have come up in a contest between two white candidates. That’s not accidental.
So Obama can be forgiven, a little, for anticipating racist attacks. When he said “They’re going to try to make you afraid. They’re going to try to make you afraid of me. He’s young and inexperienced and he’s got a funny name. And did I mention he’s black?” he should have been talking about the Clinton campaign. That’s exactly what she did.
If Obama loses in November, many Democrats are going to blame racism. They need to blame that primary, because Obama and Clinton are still fighting it.