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Obama v Clinton: Race to the Bottom

March 18, 2008

In partial protest of ACK’s being dumped by WKRN, I demurred from posting politics over the weekend. Okay, it was all because of the ACC Tournament, that’s why.

I noticed that odd little battle going on at Daily Kos between this “Alegre” person and well, the rest of the site’s users over what she felt to be unfair treatment by the Obama supporters who post to the site. To me, it was just another good reason to steer clear of those big ticket netroots sites (Kos, TPM, MyDD, etc). I never really f’ed with them to begin with and that whole Black face incident from a couple years ago (hard to believe it was so long ago, innit?) sealed my disapproval.

(how long will it take before Kos gets a post on Stuff White People Like, I wonder?)

If you’re not up on the specs, Alegre is a supporter of Sen. Clinton and didn’t like the way the Obama supporters outnumbered Clinton supporters on the site. Well, she says she didn’t like the rough and tumble way the Obama supporters addressed her and were apparently sexist. So she decided to take her ball and go home to the warm, comfy confines of MyDD, where apparently all the posters love Sen. Clinton, all the women are strong and children above average.

I was shocked to find that people did actually give a shit where this Alegre person decided to post her comments. I understand that Kos, as site lord and master, had to comment about it since the damned “Boycott” actually made the cable news shows. Well as a cry for help and small publicity boon for your cause, Alegre, it certainly worked. But seriously, grow up. The leadership in the Clinton campaign is not sending around press releases about how wonderful Obama’s cologne smells, they’re playing rough. You played on a site where people count on playing rough to get noticed among the 5,000 reply comment threads. Moreover, they wanted to use an anti-DLC site to promote blog about a DLC candidate. What were they thinking?

Meanwhile, Clinton’s tactic of changing the subject from Ferraro to Rev. Wright worked pretty well. Oh, you don’t think it had anything to do with the Clinton team, as I said last week? Think again.

Opponents of Obama have constantly pushed reporters to write about the minister, which these critics considered a ticking time bomb for his campaign.

On Feb. 20, after a fiery guest sermon by Wright in Little Rock, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette ran an article that said: “On Tuesday, Wright criticized the U.S. invasion of Iraq and likened the insurgents to the Israelites under Babylonian rule.”

At 9:20 that morning, Obama opponents were already trying to get Politico to link to the story.

That’s just some old school poli-trix. I’d have done the same myself, actually. I’d owe it to my candidate. Still, the Wright story had been done to death over the past year since Sean Hannity so graciously brought these dastardly (big eye roll) comments to our attention. No one knew or cared, but the Ferraro flap gave people eager to discuss a reason to blather.

On our radio show last night, the callers (most of our listeners are African American) were all over the story. Interestingly, the first couple of callers were very critical about Obama’s distancing himself from Wright’s comments, and one mistakenly believed Obama had “repudiated Rev. Wright.” Another called Obama “two faced-ded” for his recent denounce and reject offensive. Still, most were supporting Obama and believed he did what must be done to win in politics. I noted that Obama was prepping a speech for Philadelphia where he would address the issues surrounding Rev. Wright in part but in the main take the opportunity to discuss race relations in America. It’s probably a good idea, and I’m sure he’ll strike the appropriate tone, the uniter, not the divider, and he’ll talk about growing up in Hawaii in a very multicultural environment (is anyone talking about what it will be like to have a multiracial President rather than a “Black” President?)

Does anyone remember “Roots?” Oh, come on, I know you have at least seen the infamous “Your Name is Toby” whipping scene, right? Watching the campaign over the last week I think about that bit.

It’s a similar path followed by Obama and Alex Haley’s ancestor. Cut all ties to your ethnicity (that isn’t White). Your real name becomes an unmentionable (Hussein). And if you don’t fall in line, we will damn well make sure you do.

Yes, it’s probably an overly dramatic comparison. No one is talking about putting Obama on the whipping post (though O’Reilly is talking about lynching Michelle Obama). However, in this age when people are falling all over themselves claiming that race no longer matters, we see how it may enter into a campaign uninvited. And for Black candidates, it almost always is, whether it’s the inevitable Farrakhan question or wondering whether or not you like White women (God help the boy if he does . . . )

Perhaps some of this is Obama’s own fault. He so arduously sought to avoid the whipping post, the Farrakhan questions, the impressions of being too Black, that he waited way too long to introduce the issue on his own terms. Doing it at all, talking about race, at anytime in some rational way when you have a massive public forum is welcome. I don’t know that the people who need to hear what he’ll have to say will be so open when the discussion is opened under the cloud of the (mostly false) accusations against Wright.

The irony is that all these well meaning, soft-hearted Clinton fans like Alegre and friends are the people one would expect to be out front trying to assist people in understanding what is really going on with regards to Rev. Wright, social differences between Black and White churches and their respective roles in society (I mean, they ceded that authority to David Gergen of all people. sheesh). However, they’re content to let some ugliness fester in the interest of supporting their candidate, a candidate with an ever shrinking chance of winning the primary.

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