PHILA. INQUIRER:Obama was the first to play the race card

IN SUNDAY'S PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER.

THIS WILL BE HUGELY READ IN THE SUBURBS AND THE ENTIRE EASTERN PART OF PA.

Obama was the first to play the race card

Sean Wilentz

http://www.philly.com/inquirer/opinion/2 0080330_Obama_was_the_first_to_play_the_ race_card.html

Wilentz is the Sidney and Ruth Lapidus professor of history at Princeton University

Quietly, the storm over the hateful views expressed by Sen. Barack Obama's pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, has blown away the most insidious myth of the Democratic primary campaign. Obama and his surrogates have charged that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has deliberately and cleverly played the race card in order to label Obama the "black" candidate.

Having injected racial posturing into the contest, Obama's "post-racial" campaign finally seems to be all about race and sensational charges about white racism. But the mean-spirited strategy started even before the primaries began, when Obama's operatives began playing the race card - and blamed Hillary Clinton.

Had she truly conspired to inflame racial animosities in January and February, her campaign would have brought up the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and his incendiary sermons. But the Clinton campaign did not. And when the Wright stories and videos finally did break through in the mass media, they came not from Clinton's supporters but from Fox News Network.

Although Wright had until recently been obscure to the American public, political insiders and reporters have long known about him. On March 6, 2007, the New York Times reported that Obama had disinvited Wright from speaking at his announcement because, as Wright said Obama told him, "You can get kind of rough in the sermons." By then, conservative commentators had widely denounced Wright. His performances in the pulpit were easily accessible on DVD, direct from his church. But Clinton, despite her travails, elected to remain silent.

Instead, she had to fight back against a deliberately contrived strategy to make her and her husband look like race-baiters. Obama's supporters and operatives, including his chief campaign strategist David Axelrod, seized on accurate and historically noncontroversial statements and supplied a supposedly covert racist subtext that they then claimed the calculating Clinton campaign had inserted.

In December, Bill Shaheen, a Clinton campaign co-chair in New Hampshire, wondered aloud whether Obama's admitted youthful abuse of cocaine might hurt him in the general election. Obama's strategists insisted that Shaheen's mere mention of cocaine was suggestive and inappropriate - even though the scourge of cocaine abuse has long cut across both racial and class lines. Pro-Obama press commentators, including New York Times columnist Frank Rich, then whipped the story into a full racial subtext, charging that the Clintons had, in Rich's words, "ghettoized" Obama "into a cocaine user."

The Obama campaign and its supporters pressed this strategy after Clinton's unexpected win in New Hampshire. Pundits partial to Obama, including Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post and John Nichols of the Nation, instantly mused that their candidate lost because of supposedly bigoted New Hampshire whites who had lied to pre-primary pollsters - an easily disproven falsehood that nevertheless gained currency in the media.

Next morning, Obama's national co-chair, Jesse Jackson Jr., cast false and vicious aspersions about Hillary Clinton's famous emotional moment in New Hampshire as a measure of her deep racial insensitivity. "Her appearance brought her to tears," said Jackson, "not Hurricane Katrina."

Obama's backers, including members of his official campaign staff, then played what might be called "the race-baiter card." Hillary Clinton, in crediting both Lyndon Johnson as well as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for the Civil Rights Act in 1964, had supposedly denigrated King, and by extension Obama. Allegedly, Bill Clinton had dismissed Obama's victory in South Carolina by comparing it to those of the Rev. Jesse Jackson in the 1980s. (In fact, their electoral totals were comparable - and in the interview at issue, Clinton complimented Obama on his performance "everywhere" - a line the media usually omitted.)

Thereafter, Obama's high command billowed further race-baiter allegations into the media. Pointing to the notoriously right-wing Drudge Report, Obama's campaign manager David Plouffe accused the Clinton campaign of deliberately leaking a supposedly racist photograph of Obama in African garb, which actually originated on still another right-wing Web site. Finally, David Axelrod trumpeted Geraldine Ferraro's awkward remarks in an obscure California newspaper as part of the Clinton campaign's "insidious pattern" of divisiveness.

One pro-Obama television pundit, Keith Olbermann of MSNBC, fulminated that the Clinton campaign had descended into the vocabulary of David Duke, former grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan.

(In his Philadelphia speech on race, Obama pressed the attack by three times likening Ferraro to Rev. Wright.)

Since the Philadelphia speech, the candidate and his surrogates have sounded tone-deaf on the subject of race. On March 20, Obama described his Kansas grandmother to a Philadelphia radio interviewer as "a typical white person." The same day, Sen. John Kerry said that Obama would help U.S. relations with Muslim nations "because he's a black man." Another Obama supporter, Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, called him the first black leader "to come to the American people not as a victim but as a leader." Her history excluded and conceivably denigrated countless black leaders, from Frederick Douglass to Rep. John Lewis. Obama remained silent, refusing to take Kerry and McCaskill to task for their racially charged remarks.

Neither candidate can win sufficient elected delegates in the remaining primaries to secure the nomination, and so the battle has moved to winning over the superdelegates. Obama's bogus "race-baiter" strategy is one of the main reasons he has come this far, and it is affecting the process now. But by deliberately inflaming the most destructive passions in American politics, the strategy has badly divided and confused Democrats, at least for the moment. And having done so, it may well doom the Democrats in the general election.

Tags: :Obama (all tags)

Comments

63 Comments

Re: PHILA. INQUIRER:Obama was the first to play th

That's a repeat of his piece from the New Republic.

by politicsmatters 2008-03-30 07:03PM | 0 recs
Re: PHILA. INQUIRER:Obama was the first to play th

NOT AT ALL.

Besides that they both tell the truth, the nr piece didn mention wright...neither did the clinton campaign.

by John Wesley Hardin was a Friend to the Poor 2008-03-30 07:16PM | 0 recs
DAILY THE CLINTONS' VOICE DIVIDES!

Geraldine Ferraror - Barack has it easier because he is a black man.

Sen. McGovern - easier for black man than a woman

Bill Clinton this weekend: it's ok to say bad things about the girl!

Hillary this weekend - "big boys trying to bully a woman"

Hillary sitting down with her arch enemy Richard Mellon Scaife, who accused them of murdering Vince Foster, Ron Brown and many others to re-introduce Rev. Wright (when subject had died down) to take heat off of her Bosnian Fabrication!

IT IS NOT THE REPUBLICAN MACHINE BUT THE HILLARY TONYA HARDING! - DIVIDE THE COUNTRY AGAIN, THROW US BACK AGAIN SO HILLARY CAN WIN BY DEFAULT!

by bacalove 2008-03-31 01:38AM | 0 recs
Re: DAILY THE CLINTONS' VOICE DIVIDES!

Ferraro was essentially pointing out what Obama himself pointed out when discussing his book deal and all the hoopla since he joined the Senate. She didnt simply say he was lucky to be a black man. She said it being part of his narrative in running for the presidency has been helpful. Just like her being a woman was helpful back when she was on the ticket.

Obama himself has pointed to the historical aspects of his presidency.

by PegLeg 2008-03-31 02:35AM | 0 recs
Re: PHILA. INQUIRER:Obama was the first to play th

Isn't it convenient that the title of this diary totally misleads?  It's a freaking op-ed piece.

I bet it really made a big diff with the supers who are endorsing tomorrow, huh?

by LtWorf 2008-03-30 08:06PM | 0 recs
Re: PHILA. INQUIRER:Obama was the first to play th

it will cost obama 10s of thousands of votes in the philly subrbs alone...

i grew up there, book it.

and oh yeah, like we didnt expect sen whats her name to go for obama

and of anyone thinks the entire nc delegation goes for obama, ill give them 10 to 1 odds and bet them 1000 bucks.

my  guess is that most who do will be AA.

and after obama lied and cried racist...

ok?

by John Wesley Hardin was a Friend to the Poor 2008-03-30 08:19PM | 0 recs
Re: PHILA. INQUIRER:Obama was the first to play th

Sure thing.  If it's psychologically soothing to you, it must be true.

I'll continue to view it as the joke I think it is.

By the way, how many more supers before Obama is even with HRC?

by LtWorf 2008-03-30 08:35PM | 0 recs
Re: PHILA. INQUIRER:Obama was the first to play th

no because in clintons first go round, i was political director for he entire state.

i know the state.  you obviously do not.

i guarantee  we come out 400,000 up minimum.

so are we betting?

or are you just words?

by John Wesley Hardin was a Friend to the Poor 2008-03-30 09:10PM | 0 recs
Re: PHILA. INQUIRER:Obama was the first to play th

I'm curious why you don't just donate your money to Hillary's campaign - obviously she could use the money. I wonder how much Hillary's flagrant, public Bosnia lie will effect her votes as opposed what to a singular op ed from a random newspaper will do to Obama.

by TheSilverMonkey 2008-03-30 09:28PM | 0 recs
dont know...that crap worked against Gore

very classy of team obam...brave...

especially with his longggg list of bullshit he hss said on paper nd videotape.

he is  the bush of 2008.  and the pundits that trashed gore...mathews, rich, dowd, huffinngton, fineman, russert etc....all are now trashing hillary  in exactly the same way..

that doesnt bother you?

btw, im maxed to HDC.

so, wanna bet?

by John Wesley Hardin was a Friend to the Poor 2008-03-30 09:44PM | 0 recs
Re: PHILA. INQUIRER:Obama was the first to play th

32

Probably less after tomorrow. Realistically he'll need about a third of the remaining supers to tie this up, and he seems to be on track for that.

by TheSilverMonkey 2008-03-30 09:18PM | 0 recs
Bias much?

Wow! This is the single most biased option piece I have ever seen. Every pundit not toeing the Hillary spin is labeled 'pro-Obama'. Well consider this piece certified 'pro-Hillary'. It is easily dismissed.

by JoeCoaster 2008-03-30 07:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Bias much?

Obama is that you?

by DTaylor 2008-03-30 07:14PM | 0 recs
Bias?

not familiar with the idea of an op ed.

dont they have those on msnbc?

what you dont get is this is exactly why she wont quit and why we will fight on and why we will win.

you are so in denial.

by John Wesley Hardin was a Friend to the Poor 2008-03-30 07:22PM | 0 recs
dude,

you got a serious case of CAPS.

And New Republic quoting.

by kindthoughts 2008-03-30 07:12PM | 0 recs
Re: dude,

THE NEW REPUBLIC SUCKS

SO DOES PRINCETON

BUT IVE ALWAYS LOVED WILETZ'S WORK.

by John Wesley Hardin was a Friend to the Poor 2008-03-30 07:25PM | 0 recs
random ravings I see

by kindthoughts 2008-03-30 08:11PM | 0 recs
random rudeness I see

its sad, so sad.

by John Wesley Hardin was a Friend to the Poor 2008-03-30 09:11PM | 0 recs
Re: dude,

Leave PRINCETON out of this fight. It is my Alma mater...and by the way, Princeton kicks ASS.

by likelihood zero 2008-03-30 09:11PM | 0 recs
besides f scott...Princeton sucks

Go Light Blue!

by John Wesley Hardin was a Friend to the Poor 2008-03-30 09:14PM | 0 recs
You are totally immature. How old are you? 4 or 5

by likelihood zero 2008-03-30 09:19PM | 0 recs
immature?

didnt you play a sport?

never heard of

light blue?

how 'bout the Lions?

Columbia?

I played Princeton 4 times and tried to break legs in each game.

by John Wesley Hardin was a Friend to the Poor 2008-03-30 09:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Another case of miscommunication..

When was the last time you saw a statistician play a sport? We are the nerds, the army of the nerds :-))

No, i didn't play sport at all. sorry to disappoint you. Plus i graduate from there in 1984.

by likelihood zero 2008-03-30 10:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Another case of miscommunication..

84
i played, we lost

didnt u even go to the football games?

by John Wesley Hardin was a Friend to the Poor 2008-03-31 10:46AM | 0 recs
This is copyright violation

you are only allowed 2-3 paragraphs of quoted material. Please edit or delete.

And this is not a repeat of the New Republic article - that article was much more detailed.

by soshi 2008-03-30 07:12PM | 0 recs
Re: This is copyright violation

Well, an op-ed can't be that long.

But it's slightly revised and shortened from the New Republic one.

by politicsmatters 2008-03-30 07:21PM | 0 recs
Re: PHILA. INQUIRER:Obama played the race card

This isn't news to Clinton supporters.  It was obvious  from the start.  Particularly obvious was the list of quotes from the Clinton campaign that Obamas people found ripe for twisting into statements with racial overtones.  Obama was willing to throw away values and use race to bring AAs who liked the Clintons and bring them to him. It'll come back to haunt him and all involved.  There is no way to get around that. It's transparent and laughable to claim that the Clintons are racist.

by Scotch 2008-03-30 07:19PM | 0 recs
Re: PHILA. INQUIRER:Obama played the race card
It isn't news at all. It's just some guy's opinion. It's all Clinton spin from beginning to end.
by Becky G 2008-03-30 07:34PM | 0 recs
Re: PHILA. INQUIRER:Obama played the race card

{real]Professor wilentz...some guy...

is one of our nations leading and most honored historians...

I know he's no 'genius' like ESPN/MSNBC's keith olberman....

bu at least he really is a professor.

by John Wesley Hardin was a Friend to the Poor 2008-03-30 07:47PM | 0 recs
is that

Professor or professor?

Just checking.

by kindthoughts 2008-03-30 08:12PM | 0 recs
Re: is that

Re: dude, (2.00 / 1)

THE NEW REPUBLIC SUCKS

SO DOES PRINCETON

BUT IVE ALWAYS LOVED WILETZ'S WORK.

by John Wesley Hardin was a Friend to the Poor on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 11:25:23 PM EST
[ Parent | Reply to This ]

by John Wesley Hardin was a Friend to the Poor 2008-03-30 09:16PM | 0 recs
yeah we got that.

you love new republic writers.

And you have to announce it in CAPS.

by kindthoughts 2008-03-30 10:24PM | 0 recs
John, John, John...

Sean Wilentz is a contributing editor at the New Republic. Just goes to show how badly the Republicans want to run against Hillary. Thanks for pointing this out. I'm considering Rec'ing your diary.

by Travis Stark 2008-03-30 07:20PM | 0 recs
Re: John, John, John...

Marin Perez hates the Clintos and is hugely for Obama.

Gusss he believes samantha powers

And expects Obama to keep us in iraq even longer.

by John Wesley Hardin was a Friend to the Poor 2008-03-30 07:30PM | 0 recs
Re: John, John, John...

Who the heck is Marin Perez and what's he got to do with anything? Do I smell Boone's Farm Apple wine?

by Travis Stark 2008-03-30 07:48PM | 0 recs
Re: John, John, John...

lord...he's the owner/publisher/editor of the new republic for 20 years.

so what were you saying about republicans?...

by John Wesley Hardin was a Friend to the Poor 2008-03-30 07:52PM | 0 recs
Re: John, John, John...

The New Republic is a right wing rag.

by Travis Stark 2008-03-30 07:59PM | 0 recs
Re: John, John, John...

yet most all of the editors, the owner, the publisher...are all for obama...

how strange...

by John Wesley Hardin was a Friend to the Poor 2008-03-30 08:05PM | 0 recs
by kindthoughts 2008-03-30 08:15PM | 0 recs
Re: BS

sorry, tis true.

do you people get all your info from the tv?!

some of you dont seem really informed ouside whats on kos or msnbc.

by John Wesley Hardin was a Friend to the Poor 2008-03-30 08:25PM | 0 recs
Again, BS

by kindthoughts 2008-03-30 10:16PM | 0 recs
Re: John, John, John...

TNR is one of only a small handful of journals that occassionally has intelligent writing.  I don't really care which wing of the bird it comes from to be honest.  Feel free to disprove any of the examples he gives.

by bobbank 2008-03-30 08:57PM | 0 recs
Re: John, John, John...

TNR is a Dem publication.  Are you confusing it with the Free Republic?

by Hurdy Gurdy 2008-03-30 08:55PM | 0 recs
Re: John, John, John...

nAH, KOS MADE IT CLEAR TO HIS ZOMBIES THAT THEY WERE TO HATE TNR CIRCA 2003-2004

oops caps

you know kossacks...ring that bell...ruff!-ruff!

by John Wesley Hardin was a Friend to the Poor 2008-03-30 09:20PM | 0 recs
Re: PHILA. INQUIRER:Obama was the first to play th

Obama played the race card first

Against Joe Biden

Biden said Obama was clean.

Obama supporters knowing about rezko etc took offense and said clean was racist.

Obama==RACIST

by DTaylor 2008-03-30 07:22PM | 0 recs
Re: PHILA. INQUIRER:Obama was the first to play th

troll

by poserM 2008-03-30 07:35PM | 0 recs
No, you are.

by mnicholson0220 2008-03-30 07:37PM | 0 recs
Re: PHILA. INQUIRER:Obama was the first to play th

kossack

by John Wesley Hardin was a Friend to the Poor 2008-03-30 07:49PM | 0 recs
Re: PHILA. INQUIRER:Obama was the first to play th

"Obama's bogus "race-baiter" strategy is one of the main reasons he has come this far, and it is affecting the process now.'"

the list so far...

joe biden
bob kerrey
andrew cuomo
bill shaheen
hillary clinton
bill clinton
geraldine ferraro

by John Wesley Hardin was a Friend to the Poor 2008-03-30 07:37PM | 0 recs
Obama was the first to play the race card

THANK YOU...WELL SAID and spot on!

by LindaSFNM 2008-03-30 08:38PM | 0 recs
Obama was the first to play the race card

It is essentially a rewrite of a piece that originally appeared in The New Republic.  This version is much better written; the original went on a bit too long and didn't feel as coherent.  I have independently verified each example that he gives, and they are all spot-on.

Opening my eyes to the irresponsible and manipulative practice of racial politics by Obama/Axelrod was the last straw for me in my gradual conversion from the Obama camp to the Clinton camp.  It is also one of the reasons that I have very strong reservations supporting him in a General Election.

by bobbank 2008-03-30 08:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama was the first to play the race card

i agree

by John Wesley Hardin was a Friend to the Poor 2008-03-30 09:21PM | 0 recs
Re: PHILA. INQUIRER:Obama was the first to play th
Oh come on. You break Fair Use and Copyright law to quote the whole article, but leave off the best part at the end: Sean Wilentz's forthcoming book is "The Age of Reagan: A History, 1974-2008."
by Rorgg 2008-03-30 09:04PM | 0 recs
Re: PHILA. INQUIRER:Obama was the first to play th

oops

by John Wesley Hardin was a Friend to the Poor 2008-03-30 09:27PM | 0 recs
Re: PHILA. INQUIRER:

This is an opEd piece by a Clinton supporter.  Am I suppposed to be surprised he would say this?  The exact opposite case can be and has been made.  Especially about the MLK/LBJ comment and the Jesse Jackson comment.  I mean seriously, do you think that no one thinks for themselves?  That the Obama campaign said "that's racist" so everyone agreed, but no one thought that beforehand.  That's insulting to the community at large.

by shalca 2008-03-30 09:06PM | 0 recs
deep

deep!!!!!

by John Wesley Hardin was a Friend to the Poor 2008-03-30 09:22PM | 0 recs
A friend of mine got to the same conclusion as wel

A dear friend of mine, African-American, who works in a local TV station here SL, made the same analysis in mid-January. I swore to god almost word for word, except that he focused more on Eric Dyson's and J. Jackson's Jr. role. He even compiled the whole thing chronologically on a DVD and showed it to me during a super bowl party in my house and i said "Nuhhhh, you must be missing something." Goodness gracious, this article is like a deja-vu to me.

I have to email him this article right the way.

by likelihood zero 2008-03-30 09:08PM | 0 recs
Re: A friend of mine got to the same conclusion as


this should be emailed to your entire list.

this is so tragic.

if obama wins because of this,our party may never recover.

by John Wesley Hardin was a Friend to the Poor 2008-03-30 09:26PM | 0 recs
Re: A friend of mine got to the same conclusion as

Any chance we could get a copy of his DVD compilation?

by PegLeg 2008-03-31 02:40AM | 0 recs
Re: PHILA. INQUIRER:Obama was the first to play th

this should be emailed to your entire list.

this is so tragic.

if obama wins because of this,our party may never recover.

by John Wesley Hardin was a Friend to the Poor 2008-03-30 09:25PM | 0 recs
Re: PHILA. INQUIRER:Obama was the first to play th

Isn't this an op-ed? Its all a matter of perspective. Hillary's supporters say that she and her surrogates made innocent, factual statements and Obama's people insinuated there was race baiting. Obama's supporters claim Hillary does nothing by "accident" and her allusions to race were calculated. And around and around we go.

But this diary does make one very good point--that is how objective fact has been obscured by punditry and editorializing. Because some guy has an opinion that agrees with your opinion doesn't make your opinion any more factual.

by bigdaddy 2008-03-30 10:02PM | 0 recs
Re: PHILA. INQUIRER:Obama was the first to play th

Since "playing the race card" is generally only used by racist white people to describe black people talking about race or racism, it would be hard for Clinton to "play the race card" and it is unsurprising (but sad) that some Clinton supporters would resort to this sad, racist canard.

Clinton supporters made indirect racist attacks, but Obama's campaign, by objecting to these, "played the race card." I'm sure that there are Obama supporters who would argue that Clinton played the gender card first, by objecting to sexist attacks on her campaign, but the argument is sad and repulsive whichever camp it comes from.

by alephnul 2008-03-30 11:21PM | 0 recs
Re: PHILA. INQUIRER:Obama was the first to play th

Does it mean that because one writes about both Democrats and Republicans what one says have no merit?

What the Professor says is correct. As an AA I was confused at first at what was happening until I figured out that Obama's campaign was deliberate in their race-baiting. I came to the conclusion that they are the ones who will do anything to win. They are smart enough to let their top surrogates do the dirty work. If this is the new politics and the politics of hope, no thanks. I'd rather stick to what I know.

by LadyEagle 2008-03-31 05:06AM | 0 recs

Diaries

Advertise Blogads