I'm a Pundit Too

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Politics Of Race

In 1998, Toni Morrison, a Nobel prize winning writer, declared President Bill Clinton “the first Black President”. The Congressional Black Caucus followed suit in October of 2001, by honoring the former President at their annual awards dinner. Clinton told CNS News that, "I think it's a function of the work I have done, not just as president, but my whole public life to try to bridge the racial divide and the fact that even when I was a little boy I had friends who were African-American”. I am beginning to wonder if the Congressional Black Caucus and Ms. Morrison wish they could take back the honorarium that they bestowed upon the 42nd President. I have always found it interesting that Bill Clinton could be considered “the first Black President” when he is proud to admit that well-known segregationist James William Fulbright was his political mentor. Fulbright was a staunch supporter of racial segregation.

Now that the first Black President’s wife is vying to become the first woman President, her campaign has started playing a familiar tune, albeit with a surprising twist. Senator Barack Obama, the first African-American with a legitimate chance at winning his party’s nomination, has been the recipient of numerous racial attacks and innuendos from those associated with Hillary’s campaign. Senator Clinton made reference to the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. fight for civil rights needing a President to achieve his dream. BET founder Bob Johnson alluded to Obama’s drug use during an introduction for Hillary. When Johnson was pressed to clarify his words, he went further to compare Obama to Sidney Poitier’s character in Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner; an obvious ploy to allege that Obama has sold out. The former President apparently felt left out of the game of personal attacks, he called the Obama campaign a fairy tale.

When Senator Clinton appeared on the Sunday morning news show “Meet The Press”, she explained away her campaign’s remarks by accusing the Obama campaign of not only distorting her words, but also of playing the race card. I am amazed at the audacity of the Clintons. They bring up race and personal attacks, and then proceed to turn the tables and accuse their political opponents of the very same thing, all the while pleading innocence. It is a very risky political maneuver, especially with the South Carolina primary looming in the near future. If Hillary does go one to win the nomination, she also runs the risk of African-Americans of either voting for her opponent, or staying home on election day. I believe it would be a fitting end to the Clinton’s political career. After all, they have taken the “Black vote” for granted for years by playing lip service to the African-American community.

To Senator Obama’s credit, he has displayed character and maturity by not allowing the Clinton campaign to drag him down to their level of politics. I am a bit surprised by the Clinton campaign’s tactic of attacking him personally and racially. Senator Obama has been in the Senate for barely 3 years, during which time he has spent the majority of his time campaigning for President. His time spent in Illinois’ state senate was marked by his propensity for voting “present” instead of a simple yes or no. His campaign is one built on excitement and his personal charm and charisma, which makes him a formidable political opponent, but he is not invincible. If his Democratic opponents begin to point out the sizable holes in his policy positions, we will see his poll numbers start to slide. The question remains, will the Clintons continue the politics of personal destruction? Or will they become victims of their own game?

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