Matt Bai on HRC

Has some sensible advice for them at the bottom (i.e. make R. Johnson apologize, call off the hounds in the Nevada vote lawsuit for starters).  But this line I think has some zip:

What’s most confounding about this latest turn into ugliness, though, is the Clintons’ remarkable capacity to cast themselves as the victims in every fight. And so here is Hillary Rodham Clinton accusing Barack Obama of somehow injecting race into the campaign, because she found herself in a world of trouble for her own comments about Martin Luther King and Lyndon Johnson. Now, I really do think she was intending only to make a sensible point about the value of experience in the White House, but look, the Clintons embody the generation that invented identity politics and political correctness. If Mrs. Clinton couldn’t guess at how that comment was going to land in the black community, then she must have been suffering amnesia.

I think the Obama camp needs to focus on her criticisms (of him) on the war, which are more “fairy tale” in my book than Bill’s theory on the media.  And not be seen as in any manner stoking racial issues.  Still I think Bai is right, that she put her foot in her mouth and now wants to play the victim.

I agree with Bai that Hillary (on the MLK comment) was trying to make a legitimate point, that came out all wrong.  But her inability to ever admit she was wrong, she could have made a mistake (even unintended) makes sickens me.

Published in: on January 14, 2008 at 1:28 pm  Comments (5)  
Tags: ,

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Maybe it’s sensible advice. There’s no doubt Johnson was fibbing, but now that he’s put his own foot in his mouth he’s put Clinton in a hard position. She can’t ask him to aplogize without asking him to admit he lied, right? And while the press continues to vaguely report that Clinton has ties to the educational union in Nevada, nobody will say what those vague ties are, or how much influence Clinton really has. Clinton said on MTP that she did not get that union’s endorsement and it’s not her role to butt into their lawsuit when their stated objective is to make it easier for Nevadans to vote. So, the long and short of it is, in my view, that Clinton doesn’t come out of these news stories looking good, but following Bai’s advice wouldn’t probably wouldn’t help either. Damned either way, IOW.

    btw, your advice to Obama does miss a key point. Obama can’t avoid the impression that his campaign is stoking racial issues. His campaign has already leaked a memo outlining their strategy to foster the impression that Clinton’s campaign is race baiting.

    Obama’s campaign has also slyly asked the media: gee, look at all these Clinton supporters making insensitive comments, I wonder what the “pattern” is…????

    So unfortunately for Obama, the damage is already done. His campaign is seen as stoking racial tensions for gain. Which may cement his win in South Carolina. But which ultimately will probably backfire badly. If he can’t put a stop to it, it might cost him the primary and the general election. Democrats may be sympathetic, but many independent voters will look at his campaign and absolutely NOT want to see 8 years of accusing every white politician of racism on such specious grounds as the Obama camp is currently going after the Clintons for. Every comment by Michele Obama that Bill Clinton is calling her husband’s candidacy a “fairy tale” and implying racism is not, not helping him.

    Sad for both Clinton and Obama, but I guess this is part of the growing pains of our country as it steps through these minefields. Hopefully, it will make the process easier for future candidates, and future moments in this campaign.

  2. Lotta things going on, most of them sad.

    Dude lied. Straight up. He can try to fudge it anyway he wants, but I’m not buying it. Community organizing isn’t a dirty word. This comes (unfortunately for her no doubt) the day after she makes a stand on MTP saying “If people say things I think are out of bounds, they’re gone.” So is she going to dump the dude?

    It’s true that she hasn’t been endorsed by the Teachers Union, but if she came up and said “this is dumb. Stop this. Let the people have their vote…” It would stop. I’m not in favor of caucus system, for sure. But if that’s what you got, that’s how it works. It’s a little too convenient for me that they come out with their suit (while this plan had been in the works for awhile it seemed for this Las Vegas precinct) only when Obama gets the union support.

    On the Obama camp. I wouldn’t call it race baiting. Although Jesse Jackson Jr. was not good on this one. (Sounding a little too much like pops for my tastes).

    They put out a memo arguing there was a pattern. Again, for sure, that leaves it open to a racialization. I thought it was a mistake. I think HRC keeps putting her own foot in her mouth and can dig her own grave and Obama could just keep handing her the shovel.

    Still, as Joshua Marshall had it either they have a plan to use surrogates for a whisper campaign or they keep unfortunately having their surrogates make (without their approval) racial tinged/charged statements. I don’t know how you slice that one.

    And their were neutral folks (e.g. Jim Clyburn) who were none to impressed with her comments. And then for her to say that there wasn’t a shred of evidence to any of the criticisms….yikes.

    I actually think for all the focus on the race thing, the bigger one is their version of Obama’s war record, which I find despicable.

    I’m somewhat biased on this one, no doubt, but I do think that overall Bai is right. Obama’s camp has responded dumbly and incorrectly in some ways, but I don’t think they started this.

    My assumption is that the Clinton thinking is that she already has high negatives, really high ones, so she can’t be more hated than she already is. But Obama does not, so if they go at him, it doesn’t cost her but could wound him. They might be right for all I know.

    I just think with big name Dems lining up behind Obama (and not Clinton) particularly in the border purple-red states, somebody needs to tell her that risking the party’s image at the price of her nomination is not the way to go.

    I hope some cooler heads prevail here. We’ll see.

  3. Joshua Marshall has a bit of a pro-Obama bias. I prefer Sargent, on TMP, actually. Honestly, I know I may be naive or deluded, but I’ve seen news reports of all these things shake down ever since December with the Clinton volunteers forwarding anti-Obama emails and getting themselves fired, and I honestly think that from the standpoint of the Clinton campaign, these are coincidences and just random stupid stuff that comes up in the campaign. Look at Cuomo’s comments in context; look at the “fairy tale” line in context; look at the both of HRC’s same-day statements on LBJ and MLK in context; there’s absolutely no pattern whatsoever. The pattern is invented in large part by hypersensitive identity-politics hacks (black and white) who don’t get post-racial politics, and by a MSM that’s fueling a story that gets eyeballs.

    In the bigger picture, all this controversy actually can strengthen Obama if he’s the nominee because it starts to air the stuff that’s gonna eventually come out anyways — including the ugly way his identity-politics supporters like Jesse Jackson Jr. are prone to subverting Obama’s own message.

    Obama may have better poll numbers than HRC right now, but my view is that its a mirage. Obama is still very much a blank slate to most of the voters (who aren’t political junkies and won’t tune in to the race until late), and his negatives can and will be driven up in the course of this campaign. HRC does him a great service when she raises legitimate issues that are going to come back to haunt him. She’s just been clumsy in letting some of her supporters get carried away.

    Like Johnson. Who, yes, she should criticize.

    But she probably won’t. Which really isn’t enough to push me closer to Obama because Obama hasn’t done an effective job at criticizing or reigning in all the people in his campaign who are inserting racial identity politics into the mix. Not to mention (but of course I will) that Obama has never apologized for his mishandling of the McClurkin fiasco, nor criticized his staff, nor fired anyone.

    As for the big name Dems lining up behind Obama, that’s definitely an Obama plus. Good for him. But of course mostly the folks lining up are the conservative Dems or Dems in vulnerable spots who are afraid that Hillary at the top of the ticket will drag them down in the fall. Which is fine; if they want to endorse Obama, they should. But it doesn’t do anything to dispell the storyline that Clinton is leading and solid with Democrats in the Democratic primary, and Obama will only win by getting independents and Republicans to cross over to vote Dem to win. Which, you know, does breed suspicion about Obama: his whole campaign is based on putting aside the divides and partisanship of the 90s but to win he is attracting all the most venomous and biased Hillary Haters (like Andrew Sullivan) to vote for him in the primaries. There’s a good chance those folks will be for Obama now to get rid of Hillary but for McCain in November.

  4. Chris: “somebody needs to tell her that risking the party’s image at the price of her nomination is not the way to go.”

    I’ve heard this, but I don’t think we’re close to it yet. My take on it is that HRC and Bill and Obama are doing a fine, commendable job. Obama’s taking the high road. Bill and Hillary have taken off the gloves and are treating Obama with the toughness he deserves as a strong, capable competitor. That they are willing to risk their own image by criticizing a black politician knowing full well that many blacks and whites will cry bloody murder at even the slighest hint of insensitivity speaks to their courage. To not hit Obama with the same toughness they would hit a Republican rival would be patronizing; to do so because he’s black and doing so would upset blacks would be a step backwards for racial equality.

    That said, arguably some of their attacks have been questioned on the merits. I’ve read convincing stuff on the Iraq issue on both sides, and frankly was surprised (having read The Audacity of Hope) just how diverse Obama’s positions on the Iraq war have been over the years, because I had not seen that story line exposed in the Obama-fawning MSM. Whether the Clintons are right or wrong about Obama on the war, I do believe they are right to put up a fight for the nomination and let the voters decide if they’ve gone too far.

    They haven’t gone too far in my view, not yet anyways. And I’m starting to feel that HRC would be a tougher opponent to McCain than Obama, even though the polls say otherwise.

  5. Chris,

    Hillary had to get a Bob Johnson to vouch for her to black people, utterly ridiculous. I see this a push for the Obama campaign to remove the love affair African-American have the Clintons, namely Bill.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: