Time to Outclass Clinton

by: Matt Stoller

Sun Jan 13, 2008 at 23:38

Josh Marshall covers the crap that Bob Johnson is putting out there.  Johnson isn't just the billionaire who called the estate tax racist, he also recently lobbied against equalizing taxes on hedge funds by going after all the Presidential candidates.

Democratic presidential hopefuls are "playing the class warfare card" by supporting tax increases on private-equity and hedge-fund managers, says Robert L. Johnson, the billionaire founder of Black Entertainment Television, who warns the hike would hit minority-run investment firms.

"I believe there's a tendency of certain members of the Democratic Party to pursue tax changes as part of some soak-the-rich strategy without thinking about the longer-term consequences to the overall economy," Johnson told The Hill.

Of course, these remarks came only a few years after Johnson set up his own hedge fund in a deal with Deutsche Asset Management.  Johnson is simply a corrupt corporate type, and it's amazing that Clinton would dispatch him as a surrogate.

Obama should use this moment to go after big media and outclass Clinton with substantive and sharp distinctions on policy that show him as a forward-looking and deep candidate.  He is already out with the policy that diversity of media ownership is critical to a healthy media system, now is a good moment to make that explicit and go after the media monopolies.

Better that than continue this identity fight, which, because of the stereotypes being thrown around, he will probably lose.  He's doing much better in the recently released Washington Post poll, that shows the race nationally at 42-37-11.  Obama has already garnered increased support from African-Americans because of the Clinton campaign's attacks combined with his Iowa victory, leading to Clinton practically pulling out of South Carolina.  It's time to get back the white liberals.  Moving off of racial identity and on to some substantive and noticeable fight would be a way to do that.

Update: (via Matthew Yglesias) Johnson also worked on privatizing Social Security.  Awesome.

Matt Stoller :: Time to Outclass Clinton

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The question is ... (0.00 / 0)
how does he attack if he's supposed to be above it all?

Say (0.00 / 0)
It's an example of the type of slash-and-burn politics of distortion and half-truths that you're fighting against and that the people want a change from. Just an idea I've been kicking around.

[ Parent ]
And how can he (0.00 / 1)
be above it all when his campaign has been busily race baiting since the day after the NH primary?  Classless indeed.

? (4.00 / 1)
Nice try.

[ Parent ]
Race Baiting (4.00 / 2)
is a Republican talking point, you are in the wrong party.

[ Parent ]
Bullshit (0.00 / 0)
Whenever criticism against you is a "Republican talking point" then the phrase "Republican talking point" has no meaning whatsoever. I am not an Obama supporter. I do however do see race baiting going on here.

[ Parent ]
Obama's campaign? (0.00 / 0)
Really? They've been arrogant and at points deeply misogynistic and homophobic. But race-baiting? It's odd to say that, too, seeing as how their strongest opponent's campaign is using quite simply racist tactics in pursuit of victory.

That wouldn't excuse Obama race-baiting, to be sure, but Clinton's campaign, from the Shaheen incident which should not be forgotten even if many of us have forgiven it, to Bob Kerrey's comments on Obama's background to President Clinton supposedly (I do not know of transcript of this) calling Obama a "kid", to Mrs. Clinton saying Dr. King's dream wouldn't have been realized without a president to do it for him, to Bob Johnson's latest buffoonery, has engaged in a lot of so-called "isolated incidents" that make it seem like a real pattern is growing. Maybe I should ignore it, but I cannot. There appears to be a racist trend and I will oppose it. Will you?

[ Parent ]
You're asking Obama (0.00 / 0)
to orchestrate a Sister Souljah moment.  I think that's a mistake.  Better Obama tack to the left and fight for, say, Katrina victims than blast one of his own.

The Crolian Progressive: as great an adventure as ever I heard of...

Sister Souljah was about ditching the left (4.00 / 1)
Bob Johnson is a greedy corporate tycoon who just happens to be black. Going up against surrogates like him wouldn't be a Sister Souljah moment, it'd be a definite movement towards the base.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog

[ Parent ]
Yeah (0.00 / 0)
Bob Johnson is more like Al Wynn than Sister Souljah. It'd be great to take on Bob Johnson, though Obama's message is not crafted in a way that would allow him to. He's got an opportunity if he changes his rhetoric SLIGHTLY to include the fact that as he said before sometimes we can't win em all over so then we just have to "beat them". I like that, and I wish he said that more. He'd have a stronger footing to take on Bob Johnson and he'd be more aggressively demanding people to listen to his message saying you're either progressive or you're not, but we'll give you a chance to decide. Choose wrong and the facts'll smacketh the hell out of yo monkey ass.

[ Parent ]
Bill Clinton (4.00 / 2)
My take is that Bill Clinton, freaking out, sometime after Iowa, got on the phone late night with a bunch of FOBs (Cuomo / Johnson etc.) and talked their ear off in ways remarkably similar to these attacks.

What these bozos are likely doing is simply echoing Bill, who, in the aftermath of Iowa, flipped his lid.

That was already pretty apparent with his "fairy tale" moment which, imo, represents a low point in ex-president's interfering with the promising careers of young leaders in their own party.

As an aside, you would think after embarassing the hell out of rank and file Democrats with his shameless tackiness on more levels than I care to count during his Presidency, that Bill Clinton, would, in retirement, learn a new trick, and just spare us.

That won't happen.

I don't think Hillary Clinton and Penn instigated this, nor would they cede their message control to the likes of Cuomo and Johnson. I can't imagine they were happy printing that ludicrous non-retraction/explanation from Johnson on their website today. (A mind-bogglingly low moment.) I also am pretty confident that Clinton surrogates don't ever feel free to just run their mouths off message like that either.

But if Bill calls you up on the phone? (And if Clinton was calling Obama "the biggest fairy tale he's ever seen" with the video tape rolling, what was he saying in PRIVATE?) Well if Bill Clinton tells you something's a crying shame enough times in private you probably feel even a slight obligation to do some attacking in public. He's a very persuasive fellow.

That's my bet for what happened. And what has followed is utterly shameful. Andrew Cuomo is State Attorney General of NY. "shuck and jive???" This is Mario Cuomo's son! How is that good for anyone? Two major campaigns with great promise are having identity battles by proxy? How is that good for the Democratic party?

It isn't.

My take is that Bill Clinton is a liability for Hillary Clinton's campaign and the party as a whole. My take is that the level of freak out in the Clinton camp after Iowa was off the radar. (Buttons were pushed that should have been left unpushed.)

Imo, Bill Clinton is clearly a liability in that YouTube clip and a probable liability in his likely orchestrating of these shenanigans.

That's where I would put the focus.

Everyone (4.00 / 1)
should just focus on the issues.

Banned for posting five straight diaries.

[ Parent ]
I've been trying (0.00 / 0)
to do just exactly that.
But, yes, agreed.

[ Parent ]
Sometimes (0.00 / 0)
I agree with people by not posting a new comment. :)

Banned for posting five straight diaries.

[ Parent ]
Yeah (0.00 / 0)
We had that for a bit of a while, but once actual votes get involved, people on all sides look for as many advantages as they can get. My thoughts only.

[ Parent ]
kid, (0.00 / 0)
Though I don't disagree with your premise that Bill Clinton freaked over Iowa, I completely disagree with your "fairy tale" comments.  In context, there was nothing wrong with that statement.

As for Bill Clinton being a liability, who knows?  Hillary's damned if she has him on the campaign trail, and damned if she doesn't. 

Haven't we learned over the years that it doesn't really matter what the Clintons say or do?  They will be mischaracterized, lied about, and slandered, whether it's deserved or not.

[ Parent ]
good points (4.00 / 2)
Your point is well taken. Its one of the reasons that I don't want the Clintons back in the White House. Its a lose lose for everyone.

[ Parent ]
Right On (0.00 / 0)
Especially about Bill, freaking out as his return to the WH and a chance as ME Ambassador Extraordinary or Supreme Court Justice receeds . . . .

In a thread yesterday I suggested that one reason McCaskill, Tim Johnson, Ben Nelson and Janet Napolitano had endorsed Obama is that the Clintons' propensity for sucking all the air out of any political space was seen as bad for down-ticket races. 

Hillary is so polarizing she has succeeding in polarizing
her own party, let alone the general electorate.

We do need change--change from BOTH the '90s and the '00s.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
ANY Democratic candidate... (0.00 / 0)
will be polarizing because the GOP will see that it happens.  I'd rather fight the tactic than give in to it.

[ Parent ]
The contest was not nearly so polarized (0.00 / 0)
Until obama won IA and almost won NH.  That is a fact.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
You mean until the primaries got started? (0.00 / 0)
Of course the fight got hotter when the primaries started. Did anybody seriously expect anything different? It's still not as vitriolic as 2004, and the Republicans won't allow any Democratic nominee to be presented as anything but polarising come the general election.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog

[ Parent ]
Oh fer cryin' out loud (4.00 / 1)
With every transparent and shameless stunt she pulls, Hillary is making it harder and harder for me to face the prospect of voting for her in the general if she gets the nomination.

What next, starting a whisper campaign that if elected Obama (who just happens to be a good-looking BLACK man, but not that it matters or anything), will have sex with your pure white daughters in the Lincoln Bedroom after selling them some smack? This is INSANE.

It's like they said "We'll see your rich black businesswoman (Oprah) and raise you an even richer black businessman (Johnson)". Unreal. And sadly, unsurprising from this camp.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

kovie, (0.00 / 0)
You're right.  Huckabee, Romney or McCain are so much better.  By all means, don't vote for Hillary if she gets the nomination.  That sentiment against Gore in 2000 worked out well for us, didn't it?

[ Parent ]
Maybe not, but a death by a thousand cuts... (0.00 / 0)
I am starting to think we have gone too far down the road of kowtowing to our corporate masters to get out of this without a complete and utter collapse of our country.

While Hillary would indeed be better than the idiots on the right, a death by a thousand cuts is perhaps worse than having 4 years of truly hellish torment that finally opens the majority's eyes and allows real change to happen.

[ Parent ]
I get your "it has to get worse before it gets better" (0.00 / 0)
argument, but I thought that that's what the past 7 years WERE. So no, I disagree, Hillary might not be the best president, but it's well past time to stop letting Pubs destroy our country. Another Pub as president wouldn't be a thousand paper cuts, but a thousand shots to the head. We simply cannot afford to go through this again. A Dem MUST be the next president.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
Besides, now that Giuliani has sunk (4.00 / 1)
If the next pres were GOP, he would likely be better than Bush (which isn't saying much), so the theory falls.  Better to have a Dem.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
I guess I see the past 27 years as our decline as a nation. (0.00 / 0)
To me Iraq (and climate change for that matter) is only a symptom of the bigger disease that is killing our country and that is the hegemony of corporate power.  Bill did his part in this vein and I just don't see Hillary, especially with those she has chosen to surround herself with, will do any better and will perhaps do more damage since she won't run into as much opposition from Congress.  I just don't see the underlying problems being solved by Clinton or Obama and I worry that their election will only push the party further into the corporatists' pockets.  We are already saddled with a horrible Congressional majority, or one that is a majority in name only, in large part because too many of our Congresscritters are Bush Dogs or corporatists. Does having DLCers in the White House help us elect better Congresspeople in the future or does it just sabotage us by pushing voters to become Independents or vote Republican? 

[ Parent ]
Not to invoke Rummy (4.00 / 1)
But you do the best with what you have, not what you wish to have. Hoping and waiting for non-existent (at present or on the immediate horizon) much better solutions is self-defeating. We all want SERIOUS, not incremental change, but the latter is still better IMO than NO change--or worse, yet further regression. Not to mention that it's impossible to know that neither of the most likely nominees will be as disapointing as you assume.

The way I see it is that with either Hillary or Obama, there's a pretty good chance of seeing some modest but meaningful improvements, and a non-insignificant chance that some much better ones will happen (but also a non-insignificant chance that things will not get any better and perhaps even get worse). But with a Pub, AT BEST things will stay the same, but far more likely they'll get much worse.

If you look at it in terms of betting--and in a sense it is--betting on the worst Dem is clearly better than letting the "best" PUb win. Not even close. And the argument (which I'm not sure that you're making) that perhaps we need to first go off a cliff before things can ever get genuinely better is one that I reject totally as being hugely irresponsible, passive, defeatist and cynical, not to mention lazy and unoriginal

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
Lazily voting yourself off the cliff (0.00 / 0)
I wouldn't say I am arguing that we should be seeking such an outcome because as you say it is ultimately irresponsible, I just have the fear that history and reality show that generally you need a crisis to influence transformative changes.  It isn't passive.  Not calling out our party's representatives and voting for them even when they ignore our interests is passive and defeatist.  It is lazy and unoriginal to think that many of  current Democratic politicians are going to make things better.  Yes, I'm taking the bet that a Democrat is better than Republican, but I am tired of hearing how we are supposed to be pleased with these candidates.  I am cynical enough to not expect a savior and yet after 7 years of Bush I am depressed that this is the best we can do. 

[ Parent ]
I think we can walk and chew ass at the same time, no? (0.00 / 0)
Just because we want a Democrat--hopefully the best Democrat possible--to win doesn't mean that we can't, shouldn't and won't be critical of them if they screw up, before during and after getting elected. I was as happy as anyone when we won in '06, then joined in the criticisms of them when they proved to not be doing a good job. So I don't see any inherent contradictions between working to get Dems elected and being quite hard on them when they deserve it. Not at all. Quite the opposite, in fact.

As for cliffs, well, sometimes societies do fall off them, and it's what ultimately (if painfully) prompts serious change. But that doesn't mean that we should be seeking to jump off a cliff. If it happens, it happens, but not of our deliberate doing. That's suicide. There are other ways to fix things before that cliff is reached. When they work, disaster is averted. When not, well, hello cliff. But not by design. Never by design. Whenever that's happened, very bad things follow--i.e. Nazi Germany, Khmer Rouge, French Reign of Terror, etc.

Radical solutions are best attempted only when all others have been exhausted--and when that happens, they tend to impose themselves on us on their own in any case. But we have not exhausted all other options. Not even close. So let's put all that 1776 stuff aside for now.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
Agreed (0.00 / 0)
I guess I am saying let's not approach this with rose colored glasses and expect that a Democratic president especially Clinton or Obama is really any more likely to move us away from the cliff rather than towards it.  The Repubs would definitely move us towards it and likely at a faster pace than either Dem. 

[ Parent ]
Not exactly (0.00 / 0)
My point is that Pubs are clearly moving us towards that cliff, while Dems are merely skirting it, sometimes tacking towards it, sometimes tacking away from it. If it's a choice between the two--and right now I believe that it is--I view Dems are easily the better choice, even if still far from ideal. At least with them, there's a chance that we won't go over the cliff, or it'll take a lot longer if the course they take us on remains uncorrected, which gives us a real chance to get them to move away from it in time, by moving them in a more progressive direction. With Pubs there is little to no such chance. It's a "bet", but easily the better one.

It doesn't need to be a false choice between Bushian conservatism and DLC-style centrism, which in many ways are variations on the same basic themes. E.g. neoconservatism vs. neoliberalism, hard vs. soft imperialism, incompetent corporatism vs. competent corporatism, etc. There is a progressive path out of this false choice that we've been zig-zagging through for decades, but it proceeds from a Democratic-led direction, not a Pub-led one. The idea being to first work to put Dems fully back in power, and then work to put real progressives in charge of the party. Not unlike how movement conservatives with worked with moderate Pubs to take over government from Dems, while working internally to take over their party.

This is how democracy works, not just ideally but practically.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
I didn't say that I wouldn't vote for her (0.00 / 0)
Just that it's getting harder and harder to do so without holding my nose. And I HAVE voted for her, in her first senate race--have you?--and will absolutely do so if she's the nominee. I even had an argument with a very liberal friend of mine last night about how he shouldn't vote for Bloomberg if he runs just so Hillary doesn't win.

This is the primaries, when we have a duty to fully vett our candidates to make sure that not only the best one wins, but that they are AT their best. That's what all this criticism is for. So I fail to see your straw man point.

And spare me the Naderite smear. I voted for Gore--happily--in 2000, and to this day despise those who didn't (in states where it mattered). You totally misread my comment.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
Sorry, but those are the exact words (0.00 / 0)
I've heard from my Obama-supporting friends.  I'm sure they'll come through for the Democrat in the end, but their enthusiasm for the Democratic Party and its values needs to be at the forefront of the work they're doing for Obama if we want to build our party long-term. 

They constantly tell me that Obama is bringing new people into the party, but if he's not really "bringing them into the party," but only to his own candidacy, then I have a problem. 

[ Parent ]
So if I don't enthusiastically support (0.00 / 0)
your preferred candidate, refrain from meaningfully criticizing her in even the most respectful manner, and support a candidate whom you dislike (in a manner that you approve of), then I am somehow hurting the party and the progressive cause? I can't have my own views on the candidates that differ from yours and still be a good Democrat and progressive?

I don't at all like what you're implying about me and my progressive values--or my lack of them in your mind--just because I don't support your candidate.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
Not at all... (0.00 / 0)
What I don't like is for party activists to be too candidate-focused.  It's our job to build the party and convince voters to focus on the big picture, to convince them that the power lies within them to change things and not with the candidate.  The way we do that is to keep the focus on the grassroots and the power that WE have if we work together.

When loyal Democrats (I'm speaking from my own experiences) say things like: "I just don't think I'll be able to work for Hillary if she gets the nomination," and "If Obama doesn't get the nomination, all of these new people we've brought into the party will leave," then we are failing to do our job. 

I hope I've made my thoughts on this clearer. 


[ Parent ]
Fair enough (0.00 / 0)
I do not and will not put candidate before party and cause--or country. Anyone who does does not belong in the party--e.g. Lieberman (although he's doing this from the right, but it's still just as bad if done from the left, center or whatever).

Nevertheless, supporting a given candidate during election season is both natural and necessary, and there's nothing wrong with it, and much good about it, so long as it's done honestly, respectfully and with the ultimate aim of benefiting the party and country, not the candidate. Which is why I welcome serious discussion and debate with the supporters of the various candidates, but have no patience for cultish true believers who think that only their guy or gal is the one true Dem and all the rest of sellouts and fakes. And it's clear to anyone who's paid attention that there are too many of those.

I've said it before and I've said it again, whoever the Dem nominee is, I will vote for them in the general, period--some, though, with more enthusiasm than others.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
um......ok....... (0.00 / 0)
What next, starting a whisper campaign that if elected Obama (who just happens to be a good-looking BLACK man, but not that it matters or anything), will have sex with your pure white daughters in the Lincoln Bedroom after selling them some smack? This is INSANE.

What's insane is that you offer this imagined smear in apparent DEFENSE of Barack Obama. With friends like these...

[ Parent ]
Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiight........ (0.00 / 0)
Because Clinton surrogates Shaheen, Kerrey, Penn and others were clearly not engaging in loathsome racial stereotype-based smears about Obama. Nah. They were just saying what the OTHER SIDE would say, but never actually saying it THEMSELVES.

"Rolling the dice"
Too ambitious

Nah, these aren't dogwhistle racial smears. Not at ALL.

Hey, wanna buy a bridge?

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
And no sooner did I respond below (0.00 / 0)
But I came upon this diary on DKos:

Yes, Ruper Murdoch's New York Post is trying to get a two-fer in to support Hillary Clinton.

They're trying to portray Barack Obama as just another woman-haitng hip-hopper.  The old stereotype of black men being misogynist.

The only problem?  It's a fucking lie.
I was at Barack Obama's victory party at Hall C at Hy-Vee Hall in downtown Des Moines.  There was a lively, joyous crowd there.  There was an incredible buzz.

And then the Obamas took the stage.

What music was playing.

Well, the Clinton-supporting Rupert Murdoch publishes this BLATANT LIE in the scummy New York Post.

January 14, 2008 -- PRESIDENTIAL hopeful Barack Obama claims to run a clean campaign, but someone in his camp took a swipe at Hillary Clinton through the candidate's theme song.

As Obama and his wife, Michelle, strolled triumphantly into his victory party in Des Moines, Iowa, on Jan. 3, Jay-Z's "99 Problems" was blaring. In it, Jay raps, "I got 99 problems, but a bitch ain't one."

Some listeners took it as a not-so-sly reference to Hillary.

"We didn't know he used that," a shocked Clinton spokesperson

Shocking!  Not surprisingly, a number of dishonest, pro-Clinton/anti-Obama websites have latched onto this smear?

The Hillary Coaster, f/k/a The Left Coaster.

The odious Taylor Marsh.

The only problem with this outrageous tale being told by Clinton's propagandists.

It isn't true.

You see, when the Obama family took the stage, it wasn't Jay-Z that was playing.

It was Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered." (Update:  Actually, it was U2.  They left to SSD.)

No one appears to be accusing Clinton supporters (let alone the campaign itself) of starting this false rumor (and I think that calling Murdoch a Clinton supporter is a bit of a stretch, he's just doing whatever's best for him), but a few appear to have latched onto it credulously.

I.e. there's a willingness to buy into smears of Obama, which is why even supposedly "innocent" (i.e. concern troll) ones are so insidious.

Which is why your simplistic reading of my obviously and intentionally over the top hyperbole totally missed the mark.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
Believe me (0.00 / 0)
it's in the works.

Banned for posting five straight diaries.

[ Parent ]
Clinton supporters continue to push this issue (4.00 / 1)
As evidence I offer up this article by Professor Sean Wilentz, a longtime supporter and personal friend of the Clintons, who now has a new piece of propaganda over at TNR.  After the last backhanded Obama bashing article I'm surprised he can show his face in public, but apparently Prof. Wilentz seems bent on destroying all semblance of his credibility and bound and determined to immolate himself on a pyre of his own making. I guess tenure makes you reckless.

The Power and the Inspiration

I've heard much bemoaning of this as a non-issue, on supposedly liberal blogs, from people who just want it to go away.  Perhaps they should tell that to Mark Penn and the Clinton campaign who are apparently petitioning their operatives to pursue this avenue.

Hillary Clinton made a huge rhetorical misstep when she held up Lyndon Johnson as the doer, in contrast to Martin Luther King who she implied was merely the inspirational leader and dreamer of nice dreams that others had to make reality.  It was not only a huge gaffe but factually incorrect, a fanciful rewriting of history as it were.  But I suppose it's the kind of thing you would expect coming from someone who grew up as a Goldwater Republican, as we all know Barry Goldwater himself did not support the Civil Rights Act.  It's also the kind of mindset you would expect from a Washington insider who believes that all power and change flows from those corridors.  Another piece of revisionism that is not supported by the history of the United States. It saddens me that Hillary Clinton forgets who is the real driving force behind this nation, WE THE PEOPLE.  Such arrogance does not bode well for someone who aspires to our presidency. 

Here's a little historical reminder for Wilentz and Hillary, the civil rights movement was a movement of the people, it was their concerns that drove the legislation that became the law of the land.  It was the people in the movement who paid the price and the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King paid a much higher price than most.  As we know he was assassinated for his part, but long before that he began paying a price.  As anyone who knows the history can tell you, the doctor who performed the autopsy on Dr. King noted that his body had incurred the kind of wear and tear usually only found in the bodies of 60 year olds, yet Dr. King was only 39.  Obviously King had been paying the price for his advocacy for decades before he was murdered. 

And how many other African-Americans laid down their lives in this fight?  There's the names that we remember like Malcolm and Medgar but there were thousands before them, most of whom died in obscurity between the 1860s and the 1960s, not to mention the tens or even hundreds of thousands of African-Americans who lost their lives in this country for no other reason than that they had dark skinned, because US law offer them little or no protection.  And the history goes back well before abolition, with Dread and Harriet Scott who fought for years in the US courts where they had virtually no chance of winning.  Yet they kept on fighting in the hope that one day their sacrifice would finally bear the fruits of liberty for their posterity.  It only it took another 118 years for African-Americans to become full-fledged citizens.

Yes Black people in America paid a heavy price in their struggle to achieve equity under the law.  But it wasn't until the rest of America, White America, got to see fire hoses turned upon children on their nightly news, and pictures of young people lynched and murdered in their local papers, before the majority of Americans woke up, and said enough, no more of this, we must put an end to such repression and inequity.

Lyndon Johnson may have done the right thing, but it was the people of this nation who prompted him to step forward and take that action.  He was merely the leader of the moment who realized that his job as president was to listen to his people. But in truth he did no more than any man of conscience would've found himself compelled to do under such circumstance. 

So when Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton slights and diminishes the achievements Martin Luther King, in order to make a rhetorical point to bolster her presidential bid, she deserves to be pilloried and condemned.  Because she didn't just slight the memory of Dr. King alone, she slighted and diminished the contribution of every one of those people down through history who first dreamed of change and then made it happen.  It wasn't Lyndon or any of his people who paid the ultimate price in order to achieve equity under the law, it was MLK and the Black folk of this nation who paid for the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, and they paid with their blood, the blood of their children, and with the blood of numerous generations before them.

So instead of giving Hillary and her campaign a pass, I suggest the Clinton supporters advise their candidate to check herself before she wrecks herself.

Sort of missing the point, (0.00 / 0)
aren't you?

No one disagrees with what you are saying, but it has nothing to do with what Sen. Clinton said.

[ Parent ]
What? (0.00 / 0)
So Sen. Clinton didn't say this:

Dr. King's dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964… It took a president to get it done. That dream became a reality… because we had a president who said "we're going to do it" and actually got it accomplished.


It seems to me that you're the one missing the point, if it is to be said that the point is about Senator Clinton's own statements.

[ Parent ]
So you're using the NYT "truncated" version of her comment? (0.00 / 0)

"I would point to the fact that that Dr. King's dream began to be realized when President Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, when he was able to get through Congress something that President Kennedy was hopeful to do, the President before had not even tried, but it took a president to get it done. That dream became a reality, the power of that dream became a real in people's lives because we had a president who said we are going to do it, and actually got it accomplished."

[ Parent ]
Supporters vs. Staff (0.00 / 0)
I think Clinton made herself vulnerable to legitimate attack by, instead of dismissing Johnson, putting his remarks on her website, but generally I don't hold either candidate responsible for the remarks of their supporters.  However, it's the Obama camp itself that has continued to push this story (The Huffington Post, not exactly Clinton friendly, posted a South Carolina primary memo).  This shouldn't be a shock; Axelrod is notorious.

And the whole LBJ thing is a bit much.  The TNR article you mentioned isn't a hit job--at all--but Wilentz showing that both MLK and LBJ were necessary for the success of civil rights: MLK led a movement that provided a political climate in which it was possible to pass such legislation, but that it took LBJ's mastery of congressional politics to push it through.  LBJ knew full well there was going to be a severe political consequence for his party and yet he did right.  How does that remotely diminish the legacy of King?  Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation: Are we going to say that he--a white man--wasn't critical because that would somehow dismiss the incredible heroic legacy of blacks who bore the brunt of the abolitionist struggle?

[ Parent ]
Add (0.00 / 0)
The Obama camp is pushing the story of the Clintons' comments, distorting them--not the Johnson nonsense.

[ Parent ]
Actually, there was more to it (0.00 / 0)
As I remember it, King and his supporters and allies led the charge.  The white reaction (fire hoses, police dogs etc) was seen as terribly embarrassing for the US abroad and was exploited by anti-US interests.  Support built at home both because it was the right thing to do, but also because racial discrimination was giving us a huge black eye, so to speak, in the third world.  Then JFK was assassinated.  The civil rights bill was pushed by LBJ, but it was also seen as a kind of momument to JFK, who had been vilified by the Right before his death (most of his popularity came later).  In truth, it takes innumberable labors of heroes sung and unsung to bring about the kind of change epitomized by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
This tells you all one needs to know about Hillary. (0.00 / 0)
What is wrong with people who think he's a reformer and a progressive?

Bill's presidency wasn't progressive and hers won't be either.  She has a fucking ASSHOLE oreo working for her and thinks that just because he's black all African-Americans will simply just follow Bob Johnson.

For some reason, it seems that Obama has some pathological and deep-seated psychological need for Republicans to like him.  Seriously.  It's weird.

yikes (0.00 / 0)
"Oreo?" You really think this kind of language helps Obama?

[ Parent ]
agree (0.00 / 0)
I believe that this is intentional to make race the central issue in the campaign which will hurt Obama. It will stimulate  the white blue collar Clinton base. I am not yet convinced that a liberal/black coalition could overwhelm the dem blue collar base but I anxiously waiting and watching.

I think the Clintonistas are trying to make Obama angry (0.00 / 0)
So that he will lose his cool and look like an angry Black man--take some of the kuster off him.  I think that the Cintons and their supporters are and always have been pretty ruthless.  Maybe it is because they were attacked so much, maybe because they liked the taste once they got in power. 

Regardless, what has happened to this race in the last 2 weeks seems to me to be really, really terrible.  It is sucking out the hope and promise of something better than Rovian politics and replacing it with just the same old, same old vicious charge-and-counter charge that has always ultimately turned many people off of politics and and subtle scare tactics that have divided the Left and divided working class whites and Blacks.  I'm not saying that this is all the Clintons' fault.  I'm saying that it is amazing how quickly we have all faqllen into this.  The last two weeks are the best example I've seen yet why we need to defuse politics of some of the acrimony and concentrate on issue themes not personalities.  Maybe this is a vain hope.  Maybe politics is really tribal, and we're sinking into an internecine war.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
Take some of the luster off (0.00 / 0)

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
Small disagreement (0.00 / 0)
The "we need to get back to issues" tack ignores that the policy differences are narrow and that identity politics gets interjected into the policy arguments thoroughly in elections this important.

Whether it's Edwards talking about his parents' jobs and his working-class upbringing, or it's Obama talking about his years in different parts of the country and world and living without a father, or it's Hillary speaking about her experience as a woman of strength and intellect and drive in the old boys' club, identity is something that we see reflects many of the policy proposals candidates put forward, whether they be encouraging fathers to stay with their families, or an ardent stand for the protection of the right to privacy and the right to choose, or if it's saying the workers of a mill ought to be able to have healthcare coverage just like the owner can, the identity and the policy are intertwined parts of politics and governing policy. I do not see how one can tear one from the other in the inner workings of our body politic.

[ Parent ]
Actions (0.00 / 0)
Clinton needs to distance herself from Johnson now and Obama needs to either fire or apologize for Jesse Jackson, Jr.'s remarks, which were ridiculous (Clinton only has compassion for her "appearance" and not Katrina survivors).  Considering that Clinton made it all the more worse by putting that man's "clarification" on her damn website (How she can do right and fire Shaheen and yet make such a dumb mistake is beyond me) and that the Obama camp, in spite of statements to the contrary, continues to push distortions of the Clintons' comments to further inflame the situation (MLK; "fairy tale") I doubt either will do just that.

I want this all over with already.  This whole thing is sick.

Refresh my memory (0.00 / 0)
How did Obama distance himself from Donnie McClurkin?

[ Parent ]
He didn't (0.00 / 0)
He just tried to make everyone forget about it by having a gay minister say a few words at the beginning of the concerts but keep McClurkin for the end. It was a major blunder that caught his campaign in between a rock and a hard place and helped pit him in an identity struggle he did not need. Not to mention it makes him appear anti-GLBT, which I do not believe him to be, just as I feel the Clinton campaign tactics make her look like a robe-wearing member of the Klan though I do not believe her to be. They're bad tactics that we need to criticize and attack lest these campaigns think they're doing something right.

[ Parent ]
Jesse Jackson Jr. (0.00 / 0)
should get hip w/the race, class, gender lingo.

Banned for posting five straight diaries.

[ Parent ]

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