Comedy of horrors: Obama vs. Clinton
By Jim Kouri
During New York City Mayor David Dinkins' re-election battle against Rudy Guiliani in November, 1993, then-President Bill Clinton rode on his white horse into the Big Apple to help that city's first black mayor.
During a rally for the beleaguered Dinkins, President Clinton used the old Liberal standby -- the race card -- when he pointed an accusatory figure at white New Yorkers saying they were hesitant about voting for an African-American. That statement went over big with the Dinkins supporters, nevermind the fact that it was because of whites voting for Dinkins that enabled him to capture Gracie Mansion in the first place.
Arguably, it was moments such as this that prompted celebrated black writer Toni Morrison to gush over President Clinton. In an article for New Yorker magazine she wrote, "White skin notwithstanding, this is our first black president -- blacker than any actual black person who could ever be elected in our children's lifetime. After all, Clinton displays almost every trope of blackness: single-parent household, born poor, working-class, saxophone-playing, McDonald's-and-junk-food-loving boy from Arkansas."
The Congressional Black Caucus while honoring Clinton at a dinner appeared to agree with Morrison's hyperbole. Then-CBC Chair Eddie Johnson of Texas said at the time that Clinton "took so many initiatives [that] he made us think for a while we had elected the first Black president."
Of course, ask any person of color what President Clinton did to help them or enrich their lives and chances are you'll first get a blank stare followed by that old liberal standby: He gave us hope.
But unfortunately for Bill's spouse -- Hillary Rodham Clinton -- that was then and this is now. To be sure, she attempted to use race in the early days of her campaign. For instance, who can forget her Moms Mabley impersonation when she likened the Republican majority's actions in Congress to those of plantation owners? Hillary was prepared to play the race-card all the way into the Oval Office. And arguably it would have worked for Sen. Clinton if it hadn't been for Illinois' Democrat junior senator entering the fray.
If anything, the threat Senator Barack Obama poses to a Hillary Clinton presidential candidacy has created an interesting paradox -- the Clintons are being forced to toss aside their usual race-baiting and pandering and, in several instances, they've begun to tell the truth regarding race and politics.
For example, during one interview Sen. Clinton addressed the Obama campaign's claim of bringing hope to the American people. In her exchange with Fox News Channel's Major Garrett she stated that while Martin Luther King Jr. spoke on behalf of civil rights, it was the abrasive President Lyndon Johnson who got civil-rights legislation passed.
Garrett asked Hillary about Obama's claim that there's something vaguely un-American about dismissing hopes as false, and that it doesn't jibe with the careers of icons such as John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Dr. King's dream began to be realized when President Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act," Clinton told Garrett. "It took a president to get it done."
The political paradox doesn't end there. The Obama campaign has forced the Clinton campaign to realistically address racial politics. This is a shock to the systems of the most diehard Clintonistas.
One of the first signs that the Clintonistas were revamping their political playbook was their tactic of making Obama's admission drug use a campaign issue. While there was talk of Presidents Clinton and Bush using illegal substances, to the denizens of America's newsrooms these were examples of white college kids experimenting with drugs.
On the other hand, Obama's admission in his autobiography about cocaine use conjured up images of the nation's black, drug-infested ghettoes. The subtext of the news story was that while whites may have experimented with mind-altering drugs, narcotics and drugs are part of the African-American culture. Such an implication reeked of racism, but because it was liberal racism, those employing it as a political tactic got a pass from the mainstream news media.
For instance, Billy Shaheen, who served as co-chairman for Clinton's New Hampshire campaign, decided the time was right to point to Sen. Barack Obama's past admissions of drug use in discussing the relative electability of the Democrats seeking the presidential nomination today.
In an interview with the Washington Post, Shaheen said that he was perplexed about why, voters and the news media were not giving more attention to experienced Democratic candidates and are instead "elevating into the first tier alongside Clinton a pair of candidates with less experience in Washington, Barack Obama and John Edwards."
Shaheen also told the Post that he had "personal misgivings" about whether Obama or Edwards would be electable if they became the party's nominee.
Among his concerns about Obama as the nominee is that his background is so relatively unknown and that the Republicans would do their best to unearth negative aspects of it, or concoct mistruths about it.
Shaheen, who was characterized by the Post as "a lawyer and influential state power broker," mentioned as an example Obama's use of cocaine and marijuana as a young man, which Obama has been open about in his memoir and on the campaign trail.
"The Republicans are not going to give up without a fight ... and one of the things they're certainly going to jump on his drug use," he said during the interview.
Billy Shaheen juxtaposed Obama's openness about his past cocaine use with the approach taken by George W. Bush in 1999 and 2000, when he ruled out questions about his behavior when he was "young and irresponsible."
Shaheen told the Post reporter that Obama's candor on the subject would "open the door" to further questions. "It'll be, 'When was the last time? Did you ever give drugs to anyone? Did you sell them to anyone?'" Shaheen is quoted as asking.
Shaheen's remarks were some of the most direct by the Clinton campaign officials in addressing the issue of Obama's past drug use as a potential problem in the general election. The Clinton campaign has been focusing on the broader issue of Obama's electability, arguing that Democrats would be better off nominating a tested candidate like Clinton. According to the Post, the Obama campaign declined to comment on Shaheen's electability remarks.
During the entire debate over Obama's admitted drug abuse, rarely did anyone mention Hillary's hubby's own drug use admission. In Clinton's case, the drug was marijuana and while he admitted he put the joint in his mouth he claimed he did not inhale. It's not known how Obama ingested his cocaine -- whether he snorted it through his nostrils, used an IV needle to "mainline", or smoked the cocaine (freebased). To date, not one reporter has bothered to ask him that question.
Unable to play the race card against Barack Obama, the Clintons decided to criticize the media for its failure to press Obama to clarify his original position on going to war with Iraq. Bill Clinton went as far as accusing the Illinois senator of playing up to the anti-war crowd by changing his rhetoric about the war.
"It is wrong that Sen. Obama got to go through 15 debates trumpeting his superior judgment and how he had been against the war in every year, enumerating the years, and never got asked one time, not once, 'Well, how could you say that when you said in 2004 you didn't know how you would have voted on the resolution? You said in 2004 there was no difference between you and George Bush on the war,'" Bill Clinton told an audience and the news media during one campaign stop in New Hampshire.
"And you [Obama] took that speech you're now running on off your Web site in 2004. And there's no difference in your voting record and Hillary's ever since," he said in the same speech. "Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen."
The former president made these caustic comments when the political polls showed Hillary behind in New Hampshire.
Unable to successfully use Obama's race or drug use against him, one of Hillary Clinton's campaign coordinators in Iowa allegedly decided to send out e-mail blasts accusing the Illinois senator of being a closet Muslim.
A Clinton county chair allegedly sent one e-mail. Another was from a person who claimed to be a former Obama supporter, but a little work with Google by the Post revealed she had been posting pro-Clinton comments for several months on websites covering the campaign.
Both e-mails repeated the Obama Muslim and "madrassa" attendance charges. And there was the theory that Obama is a mole whose intention is to make a Muslim revolution in the US.
Hillary Clinton's campaign asked one of its volunteer county coordinators in Iowa to step down after the person forwarded an e-mail falsely stating that Barack Obama is a Muslim.
"There is no place in our campaign or any campaign for this kind of politics," said Clinton campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle in a statement that was posted on the left-wing blog, the Daily Kos.
"A volunteer county coordinator made the mistake of forwarding an outrageous and offensive chain e-mail. This was wholly unauthorized and we were totally unaware of it. Let me be clear: No one should be engaging in this. We are asking this volunteer county coordinator to step down and are making it clear to every person involved in our campaign that this will not be tolerated," said the Clinton campaign's statement.
"I just think that the Iowa caucusgoer is looking for an honest and real debate about their issues - health care, education, how kids are going to finance their way through college, how do we keep jobs here, solving the immigration problem and getting our troops home from Iraq," Obama replied in a statement printed in the Post.
"If other folks want to engage in those kinds of small-time tactics then that's their prerogative, but that's not what we're going to focus on," Obama said.
But all may not be lost for the Hillary Clinton campaign machine. As always, Bill and Hillary are masters when it comes to using surrogates to do their dirty work.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he's a staff writer for the New Media Alliance. In addition, he's the new editor for the House Conservatives Fund's weblog. Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He's a news writer for TheConservativeVoice.Com and PHXnews.com. He's also a columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he's syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com. Kouri's own website is located at http://jimkouri.us.
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