Monday, January 28, 2008

Correcting the Record: Too Little, Too Late

The demonization of the Hillary Clinton campaign by media and bloggers was slightly mitigated today by an article in the New York Times (replicated in full below) that demonstrates how Bill Clinton's comments about Jesse Jackson were twisted. However, the damage is done and will not be repaired: Bill Clinton, against all odds, is being recreated in the minds of the people as a racist. Here are a few quotes from blogs on today's Huffington Post:

- "Bill Clinton's comments equating Obama to Jesse Jackson... is as overt a pitch to racial stereotyping"
- "The Big Dawg strayed completely out of control"
- "Slick Willie... went a mound of dung too far in South Carolina"

A HuffPost headline even concocted the following fake quote: Clinton to Obama: "Oh, Just Get Out of My Way, You Horrible Little Man".

After completely overblowing the importance of Bill Clinton in Hillary's campaign, and then fictionalizing a divisiveness and attack mentality that is not there, another HuffPoster writes, "Bill seems to have become a problem. He is overshadowing his wife." This is the equivalent of: I take your photo and paint it blue, then attack you for being blue.

Here's the article. Jackson: Not Upset by Clinton Remarks:

The Rev. Jesse Jackson said late Sunday that he was not offended by comments on Saturday by former President Bill Clinton, who brought up Mr. Jackson’s name in response to a question about Senator Barack Obama.

Mr. Clinton had noted that Mr. Jackson had won South Carolina in the Democratic contests in 1984 and 1988. Pundits and many in the blogosphere interpreted Mr. Clinton’s mention of Mr. Jackson as an attempt to diminish Mr. Obama — and what would turn out to be his landslide victory Saturday in South Carolina over Senator Hillary Clinton — because Mr. Jackson had not gone on to win the Democratic nomination.

But Mr. Jackson said he did not see it that way.

"I don’t read anything negative into Clinton’s observation," Mr. Jackson said in a phone conversation late Sunday night from India, where he is taking part in a commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.

Still, Mr. Jackson said that he had spoken to Mr. Obama on Saturday night and to Mr. Clinton a few days earlier and that he had appealed to both to "take it to a higher ground."

Mr. Jackson, the long-time civil rights activist, is supporting Mr. Obama while his wife, Jacqueline Jackson, is supporting Mrs. Clinton. Their son, Representative Jesse Jackson Jr., is supporting Mr. Obama.

While Mr. Jackson made race a prominent part of his own campaigns, Mr. Obama has sought to downplay it and presented himself as a transcendent figure.

In his conversation with Mr. Obama on Saturday, Mr. Jackson said, "He told me what Bill had said. And I said to Barack, as a tactical matter, resist any temptation to come down to that level. There may be temptations, especially when the media keeps saying 'Barack is black,' and they never said 'Dukakis is white' or 'Hillary is white,'" he said, referring to Michael Dukakis, who won the Democratic nomination in 1988.

But, Mr. Jackson said, "Bill has done so much for race relations and inclusion, I would tend not to read a negative scenario into his comments." He said his chief concern was that Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton not "bloody themselves" so much that they can’t unite against the Republicans in November.

Several other prominent Democrats had also talked with Mr. Clinton earlier in the week, urging him not to escalate racial tensions within the party. One, Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina, said on CNN that Mr. Clinton should "chill."

Mr. Jackson said that on Saturday, Mr. Clinton had simply been recognizing Mr. Jackson’s success and said Mr. Obama recognized it too.

"He said that he felt his success was built on my 84 and 88 campaigns," Mr. Jackson said of Mr. Obama. He said there had been a "growth and maturing of the electorate" since he ran, and he saw Mr. Obama's win as "part of the historic evolution of the New South."

Before Mr. Obama's win on Saturday night, Mr. Clinton was at a polling place in Columbia, S.C., and was asked by a reporter, "What does it say about Barack Obama that it takes two of you to beat him?" referring to Mr. Clinton’s full-time campaigning for his wife.

Mr. Clinton laughed and replied, "That’s bait too." (He had just responded to a question about Senator John Kerry by saying he would not take the bait.) He then added: "Jesse Jackson won in South Carolina twice, in '84 and '88, and he ran a good campaign. And Senator Obama is running a good campaign."

There is video of Mr. Clinton's response to that one question but not of the entire exchange with reporters. But Mike Memoli, a campaign reporter for MSNBC and the National Journal, wrote the most complete account of the exchange, and it contains no other reference to Mr. Jackson. Mr. Memoli said in an e-mail that no one had mentioned Mr. Jackson until that point.

As word of Mr. Clinton's remarks about Mr. Jackson spread on television and the Internet on Saturday, the blogosphere exploded with accusations that the former president was gratuitously mentioning him as a way of diminishing Mr. Obama’s candidacy and suggesting that his win in South Carolina would have little long-term significance. Comments on numerous blogs reflected anger at Mr. Clinton for his increasing visibility in his wife’s campaign; some said that his remarks about Mr. Jackson had pushed them over the edge and that they were no longer supporting Mrs. Clinton.

On Sunday, Mr. Obama was asked on ABC’s "This Week" with George Stephanopoulos whether he thought Mr. Clinton had been engaging in racial politics. Mr. Obama responded that Mr. Clinton's "frame of reference" about South Carolina was Mr. Jackson’s campaigns, which were more than 20 years ago, implying that Mr. Clinton’s view was out of date.

In his comments Saturday, Mr. Clinton admitted to getting a little "hot" in some comments, but added, "My message has been 99.9 percent positive for 100 percent of this campaign."


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Obama is only leading in 3 states going into Feb 5th, not even Tennesse. Clinton is leading in 12The others haven't been polled. Obama is now third in Oklahoma.

If the CLinton's are being portrayed as racists by Team Obama, and they are, white people are asking themselves, "what does that make me?"

Villifying two people who have worked for decades with black communities and for black communities is backfiring.

Again, if Bill Clinton is racist for saying someone's voting record is a fairy tale, what does that make the average white person, a monster? The backlash is coming Feb 5th.