Obama's Dog Whistle Politics
by Todd Beeton, Wed Jan 09, 2008 at 01:47:44 PM EST
Obama's national campaign co-chair, Jesse Jackson, Jr., just went on MSNBC and appeared to question Hillary's tears, which he called "tears that melted the Granite State," adding that those tears "moved voters."
Most ridiculous passage from Jackson's comments:
Not in response to Katrina, not in response to other issues that have devastated the American people...the war in Iraq, we saw tears in response to her appearance. Her appearance brought her to tears but not Hurricane Katrina.
What he's referring to here is the question that led in to her emotional response on Monday, as related by First Read:
64-year-old Marianne Pernold-Young, of Portsmouth, asked the senator how she got out of the house in the morning and who did her hair.
Clinton joked about having help with her hair and then began to get choked up and teary-eyed.
Which begs the question, is Obama trying to lose? As I've documented, Obama's bounce had already begun fading before Clinton's emotional moment blanketed airwaves on every newscast Monday night, so Jackson and the entire Obama crew might be better advised to look inward as to what Obama himself did or didn't do over the weekend to cause New Hampshire voters in droves to shift from Obama back to Clinton. Sure, no doubt Clinton did something right, at the debate in particular, but Obama I think made two mistakes that night: his "you're likeable enough, Hillary" line was delivered in unusually mean-spirited way and, as I noted in the debate live thread, Obama jumped on defense when Hillary attacked instead of turning it around on her allowing her to dictate the terms of the debate and to come off as the more presidential of the two.
Now, if you want to criticize her for the tears, that's fine, I don't think it's off limits, but framing her emotional reaction as evidence that Clinton's priorities are out of whack doesn't ring true at all. As a post-election loss message strategy, I have to say, I don't know what Jackson and the Obama folks are thinking today.
Update [2008-1-9 18:57:58 by Todd Beeton]:The more I think about this, the more I get what's at work here. They know exactly what they're doing. Notice the repeated reference to Hurricane Katrina. He's using some odious dog-whistle politics here, trying to send the message to African Americans (in other words: South Carolina) that, to borrow a phrase, Hillary Clinton doesn't care about black people. Yeah, good luck with that. [editor's note, by Todd Beeton]Changed title to reflect this update.