Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Dangerous Bedfellows

Obama supporter Clive Crook nails it:

Some commentators accused Bill of playing the race card when he called Obama’s account of his position on the Iraq war a “fairy tale”. How so? What did that have to do with race? And does Hillary’s comment about King, the only instance Morris bothers to offer, even qualify? She merely said that getting the job done required a can-do president as well as an inspiring and visionary champion. And so it did. I cannot see that this subtracts anything from King’s stature, or that it was intended to. Whatever its merits, this is the Clintons’ old theme, not a sinister new one: if elected, she would hit the ground running, whereas the inexperienced Obama would be out of his depth. It took a hyper-sensitive press to turn that comment into a racial slur.

By all means, do what [Dick] Morris suggests and ask who benefits. Can it seriously be contended that the Clintons thought to advance their campaign (yes, “their” campaign) by alienating black support—that the crushing defeat in South Carolina is something, as Morris seems to believe, they actually sought? The idea is ridiculous. Obama’s remarkable gathering of solid black support to his cause is a big and unexpected setback for the Clintons.
That bit about South Carolina always bugged me. I just couldn't figure out what advantage the Clinton team would have supposedly seen in alienating black voters heading into the South Carolina primary. Obviously, there was no advantage and I find it exceedingly difficult to think that their political team simply forgot about the make-up of South Carolina's electorate (or the Democratic Party's for that matter!). But the media drummed up a controversey, and Obama didn't exactly defuse the crisis when he commented negatively on an innocuous reference to MLK and LBJ.

Krugman is right:

If you want to see what playing the race card looks like, watch the Willie Horton ad. What do we have here? MLK/LBJ — but that was totally innocent. Jesse Jackson — a stupid way to spin a big loss, but hardly part of a coordinated campaign. Cocaine — stupid and crass, but only race-based if you want to see it that way. Pretty thin gruel.
Folks, you’ve been played like a fiddle by people in the media who just plain hate the Clintons. They tried to take Hillary down over her clothes, her voice, her tears. When none of that worked, they invented a race war.

There are some perfectly good arguments against Hillary — Iraq, the presence of people like Mark Penn, the big-money Dems in her circle. But this really is Al-Gore-says-he-invented-the-Internet stuff. And it’s deeply depressing to see so many progressives fall for it. [...]

And to Obama supporters, just remember: these people are not your friends. After they take down Hillary Clinton, if they can, your man will be next.
Krugman again following up on those wise words of caution:

All my criticisms of Obama have been from a progressive direction. I don’t think I’ve said anything that conservatives could use against him in the general election, or use to undermine his efforts if he makes it to the White House.

Can you say the same about progressive columnists who attack the Clintons, claiming that they’re ruthless, that they’ll do anything to win, etc. etc? I don’t think so.
Again, try to think beyond the intraparty struggle, and realize who your friends really are.
These tactics employed by the Obama camp and its supporters have bothered me most, and led me to doubt the sincerity of the "new" kind of politics that he has been preaching. Claiming that he doesn't go negative, and then trading in GOP talking points about Hillary just doesn't rub. Comparing her to Dick Cheney was also a particularly enlightened touch.

Getting back to Krugman though: be careful which beast you feed and with what. The diet will remain the same, and the hunger will not be satiated by Hillary's defeat. Better to cut short these dubious non-troverseys than to encourage them.

Do you really think Obama will be spared? If Hillary beats Obama, have you helped the Democratic Party contend in November? Then are you helping the cause by fueling this machine?

(See, also, Greg Sargent on the willing use of "Clinton Rules" by those that should know better)

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