A proposal for a compromise on race

There has been a lot of talk about the racism, the race card, racism accusations and while some Obama supporters blame the Clintons for injecting race, some Clinton supporters blame Obama for the same thing. I suggest that we all take a big step back and try to get the big picture again.

The compromise is very simple and goes as follows:
We give both Democratic candidates and their campaigns the benefit of the doubt.

1) We give the Clinton campaign the benefit of the doubt concerning  Shaheen and Penn - reminding us of the cliche that young Blacks deal drugs and that Obama did cocaine was not helpful and quite disturbing. Actually, I have a hard time giving Mark Penn the benefit of the doubt, but let's say that there wasn't a campaign strategy by the Clintons to use these stereotypes against Obama. The Clintons would not support such a strategy, they know better.

2) MLK/LBJ was an ill-advised remark, for obvious reasons. That is by the way the word Obama used, ill-advised, and I think he is right. But there is no reason to believe that this had anything to do with Hillary Clinton not appreciating MLK, and certainly it had nothing to do with MLK's blackness.

3) JJJr's tears moment. Indefensible. He should not talk in public when he is angry and disappointed, obviously he says stupid things if he does it anyway. To conclude that there is a campaign strategy behind this, however, would by unfair, since we have already given the Clinton campaign the benefit of the doubt at least twice.

4) Bill Clinton after SC. This guy was one of the best politicians earlier in his life but he has lost touch. Good politicians know what to say and what not to say, even when they are angry and tired. He should have known better. He could have taken Edwards as an example or just congratulate Obama to his win. But... he is no racist and I don't think he meant ill. He just made a stupid mistake.

5) Ferraro. Now here, even if she is certainly not a racist, her statement could be called such, at least when taken out of context. That is simply not something you say. I also consider it sexist to say that Hillary only got there because of Bill or because she is a women. It's degrading and shows a lack of respect. However, Ferraro is not Clinton. The Clinton's had nothing to do with this and they reacted accordingly, although a little late.

Now that we have gone through the history of race in this primary (did I miss something important?), let me make one thing clear:
Neither campaign is interested in making racism or sexism a big topic. They can only lose by doing that. That's certainly true for Obama, whose coalition of Blacks and progressive Whites does not split along color lines. And the Clintons have a legacy to lose, they have no reason to go there.

As an Obama supporter, I would ask specifically for the following: Some of you regularly accuse Obama of playing the race card, however, nobody has ever been able to point out a specific incident where he did just that. In fact, whenever I saw him speak about race, he did that in very conciliatory terms. If we give his campaign the same degree of "benefit of the doubt"edness , that we give to the Clinton campaign, it is also easy to discard the few scattered incidents where people from his campaign went to far on this issue. The candidate supporters of Clinton and Obama on the web obviously went to far in many instances, but that is to be expected. That does not reflect on the candidates and if it did, it would go both ways.

Maybe we should all tone this down a little.

Tags: Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, compromise, Hillary Clinton, race, racism (all tags)

Comments

48 Comments

Re: A proposal for a compromise on race

Exactly good post Marcotom.

How can Obama be racist, when his own mother is White. The mother who raised him. These sick rumours said that Obama was a muslim. While that would be hard with a pastor, wouldn't it.

I believe Obama was trying to help the ranting old man. That's why he was there. Obama is always trying to help.

by IsaacM 2008-03-17 03:10PM | 0 recs
Well written diaryr

But I'm afraid you're wasting your precious time. Many of the people you're trying to reason with are simply unhinged.  

by highgrade 2008-03-17 03:10PM | 0 recs
Re: A proposal for a compromise on race
Before you take off on Penn watch the whole exchange and read the Daily Howler on that issue. The cocaine issue was not raised by Penn. He tried to get away from the cocaine use issue as much as he could.
Also is that untrue.
by rocky 2008-03-17 03:11PM | 0 recs
Re: A proposal for a compromise on race

Huh? I'm talking about when Penn, Axelrod and Trippy were on TV before Iowa and Trippy had to call out Penn who used the word cocaine twice. It's not a big deal though.

Sorry, Penn has lost my respect.

by marcotom 2008-03-17 03:14PM | 0 recs
Re: A proposal for a compromise on race

Penn isn't really a racial issue though, just a sleaze issue.

I gotta say the Shaheen thing always seemed like a ridiculous stretch to call it racist, but I understand there are people on the other side who think it's the most obviously racist thing ever.  Just goes to show you how differently people can look at the same incident.

by Steve M 2008-03-17 03:20PM | 0 recs
Re: A proposal for a compromise on race

Certainly. And I agree with your points on Shaheen, I think the same thing applies to most other incidents as well, most of it is simply a misunderstanding - fueled by supporter bias.

by marcotom 2008-03-17 03:32PM | 0 recs
Diversionary tactics..

Honestly, the candidates need to be talking about REAL ISSUES.. things that matter to ALL of us..

You people who are going on about it trying to blow it all up, really, this stuff is FLUFF..

I don't think that its that relevant..really.

by architek 2008-03-17 04:50PM | 0 recs
Curious - about the coccaine

... remarks by ?Penn?  I remember someone talking about someone mentioning - more than once - something that was written in Obama's book about coccaine usage.

Personally, I don't see why Obama would put that ammunition (for some) out there and then I don't see how after he himself has "owned up to it" that there are any legit complaints about anyone referring to it.

So, if he talks about a mistake he's made, it's OK, but no one else can.  Is this what they call immunizing?

Most importantly, how was this a racial issue?

I know too many white people who do coccaine, have problems because of coccaine.  So, am I missing something here?  I don't get how this is a racial remark.

BTW, it has long been "rumored" that our Prez was a coke head in his younger days.  

by Southern Mouth 2008-03-17 03:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Curious - about the coccaine

If Mark Penn thinks he need to mention it on air twice to make sure every Iowan knows, that is his right. It is my right, however, to call him a sleaze bastard for doing it.

And no, it is not a racial issue. The racial issue was raised by Shaheen before that and Penn was speaking about that incident when he used cocaine.

by marcotom 2008-03-17 03:42PM | 0 recs
So let me ask

You raise that surrogates are potential race card players. What was Michelle's comment asking blacks to wake up? Wake up to what? Was that not asking people to vote based on race?

by sinclair 2008-03-17 03:13PM | 0 recs
Re: So let me ask

This is not playing the race card anymore than appealing to women pride. No, that does not count.

by marcotom 2008-03-17 03:21PM | 0 recs
Re: So let me ask

I meant: ... anymore than appealing to women pride is sexist.

by marcotom 2008-03-17 03:21PM | 0 recs
So if Bill asked whites to do that

We would be outraged.

Ultimately it suggests people should vote because of a difference. Why is that OK under any circumstance?

by sinclair 2008-03-17 04:02PM | 0 recs
Re: So if Bill asked whites to do that

Not ask it of Whites, ask it of women. If you bring in Whites, I would bring in men.

It is okay to appeal to the pride of a minority/sex that has never been in power, I think.

by marcotom 2008-03-17 04:11PM | 0 recs
kinda late in the day for your suggestion...

You should have proposed it in the days leading up to So Carolina.

Uttering "racism" is like letting the genie out of the bottle...you cannot put it back in.

And, I find your suggestion that we do so somewhat....self serving, I might add.

by SevenStrings 2008-03-17 03:14PM | 0 recs
Re: kinda late in the day for your suggestion...

Also, it might surprise you, but a lot of people consider the MLK/LBJ flap to have been race baiting on the part of the Obama campaign.

I find it very amusing that you deign to give Hillary the benefit of doubt there.

by SevenStrings 2008-03-17 03:15PM | 0 recs
Re: kinda late in the day for your suggestion...

How is that self-serving? If Clinton pulls this out, she needs the AA vote for the general and would be very interested in putting this behind her.

by marcotom 2008-03-17 03:19PM | 0 recs
Re: kinda late in the day for your suggestion...

Hmm... I support Clinton, but at this point, I do not care whether she gets the AA vote, or whether she wins the nomination!!  Because the one desire I have right now that trumps all other desires (well, desires pertaining to politics) is to see that race baiters be severely punished for their race baiting.  I chose to become a democrat in large part because republicans were the ones that typically did the race baiting.

Your wish is to sweep it all under the rug, just so your man can prosper in the polls.  I would say that just about defines self serving.

by SevenStrings 2008-03-17 03:35PM | 0 recs
Re: kinda late in the day for your suggestion...

You don't seem to live in the same reality than I do. You are giving the benefit of the doubt to the Clintons in every instance and call the Obama campaign out on race-baiting, even though you seem unable to prove anything. Thats intellectually dishonest.

by marcotom 2008-03-17 03:45PM | 0 recs
Re: kinda late in the day for your suggestion...

See my links for the MLK/LBJ flap downthread.  You keep asking for proof, but never respond when proof is provided.

by SevenStrings 2008-03-17 04:00PM | 0 recs
Re: kinda late in the day for your suggestion...

Where do you see the race-baiting on the MLK/LBJ flap? I tried to be specific and expect the same from you. If you can give me more info, I will update the diary. I followed this very closely, although admittedly with an Obama bias and I didn't see that happening.

by marcotom 2008-03-17 03:20PM | 0 recs
Re: kinda late in the day for your suggestion...

The idea is that it was beneficial to the Obama campaign to promote the meme among black voters that Hillary had disrespected MLK.

by Steve M 2008-03-17 03:21PM | 0 recs
Re: kinda late in the day for your suggestion...

And they promoted this very idea... feigning fake outrage.  

There was nothing technically wrong with Hillary's MLK/LBJ remark ~ because everything she said was true.  However, it was politically unwise at that stage because her words could be twisted as saying MLK was being insulted.

The blame in this instance, goes to those who did the twisting (and Obama, with his "ill-advised" remark, certainly participated in that personally)

by SevenStrings 2008-03-17 03:30PM | 0 recs
Re: kinda late in the day for your suggestion...

The ill-advised card is very different from the race card. Actually, they pretty much contradict each other.

You still fail to point out who actually used fake outrage here. I think some of the outrage was real, but even so, I don't remember surrogates of Obama even mentioning this. Maybe you can give me some quotes? Because I feel I payed very close attention at the time.

by marcotom 2008-03-17 03:35PM | 0 recs
Re: kinda late in the day for your suggestion...

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/010 8/7788.html

Some in the Obama campaign are now outraged at what they take to be a denigration of King's accomplishments and the sacrifices made during his era.

"Go ask black people what they think of that statement," the Obama staffer told me.

from
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/con tent/article/2008/01/13/AR2008011303624. html

Asked whether he had taken offense to Clinton's remarks, the Illinois Democrat said he had not been the one to raise the subject.

"Senator Clinton made an unfortunate remark, an ill-advised remark, about King and Lyndon Johnson. I didn't make the statement," Obama said in a conference call with reporters. "I haven't remarked on it. And she, I think, offended some folks who felt that somehow diminished King's role in bringing about the Civil Rights Act. She is free to explain that. But the notion that somehow this is our doing is ludicrous."

Note the background:  Clinton has been accused of denigrating King, and offending black people (by Obama's campaign).  Obama is asked if he is offended by Clinton's remarks.  He could have said "No, he was not offended" (because nothing Clinton said was untrue or offensive), or he could have said "Yes, he was offended" (which would have been ridiculous).

Instead, he chose the my-campaign-takes-the-low-road, and I will wink wink nod at it.  her remarks were "ill-advised"..he said, further adding fuel to the fire started by his campaign.

by SevenStrings 2008-03-17 03:50PM | 0 recs
Re: kinda late in the day for your suggestion...

just as I thought...you do not have a response!!!

by SevenStrings 2008-03-17 06:18PM | 0 recs
Re: kinda late in the day for your suggestion...

That would give him a motive - not quite enough to make a case.

And even the motive - I think - is pretty weak. Obama needed more than just AA's to win this and the backlash would be huge if people felt that he was trying to use the race card. As a matter of fact, most people didn't seem to think that this is what his campaign did.

by marcotom 2008-03-17 03:36PM | 0 recs
Re: kinda late in the day for your suggestion...

His motive was to win in So Carolina.

He had to do so without getting caught....if he could do so without getting caught, then he would get away with it.

by SevenStrings 2008-03-17 03:57PM | 0 recs
Re: kinda late in the day for your suggestion...

And i agree the LBJ flap really pissed me off. LBJ was thrown under the bus by his party and left the WH a broken man all because he supported and made civil rights happen.

Not only that but the dems have been swept out of the south because of their support for civil rights.  LBJ did one of the most couragous political acts of the last 100 years to pass civil rights and BO and his supporters suggested giving him credit for this was racist.  DISGUSTING.

The post above is soo correst.  Race is out of the bottle and who knows who is going to get smeared.  Two weeks ago it was the HRC campaign because of Ferrero but this week it is the BO campaign thanks to Rev Wright.  What is the phase "be careful playing with fire".

FOX and the GOP smear machine is going to go on and on and on about this.  I have written this several times.  Either this year is 1960 and JFK or 1972 and McGovern.  And right now it looks alot like McGovern.

david

by giusd 2008-03-17 03:26PM | 0 recs
LBJ under the bus

There WAS that little thing called the Vietnam war.  It is said that he personally signed all the condolence letters.  Maybe his heart couldn't take any more.

As for the racist remark about LBJ/MLK, I have NEVER EVER heard anything but praise and love from the Clintons for MLK, for his family, for his friends.

by Southern Mouth 2008-03-17 03:37PM | 0 recs
Re: LBJ under the bus

It was even comical when Ted Kennedy said he decided to support Obama because he was offended by Hillary's remarks on JFK/LBJ. That was the moment which ended my lifelong respect for Ted Kennedy.

by praxis1 2008-03-17 03:41PM | 0 recs
Re: LBJ under the bus

I don't remember him saying that. I'm pretty sure he didn't. Some of you need to get out of this echo chamber, it creates an own reality that does not hold up to the real reality.

by marcotom 2008-03-17 03:48PM | 0 recs
Re: LBJ under the bus

There were plenty of "unnamed sources close to Teddy" who claimed this was indeed the case.  Of course, he never said anything for the record himself.

by SevenStrings 2008-03-17 03:55PM | 0 recs
Re: LBJ under the bus

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/con tent/story/2008/01/27/ST2008012702331.ht ml

The couple's (Hillary and Bill) comments made him frustrated and decided to endorse Obama according to Washington Post. If you do not know or remember, check the data. That wil help you get out of your echo chamber.

by praxis1 2008-03-17 04:08PM | 0 recs
Re: LBJ under the bus

That is what he said. It is also known that Obama asked Kennedy before the run and Teddy said he should run this time around and not wait. After Dodd dropped out, it was only a question of time until he would endorse.

by marcotom 2008-03-17 04:24PM | 0 recs
Re: LBJ under the bus

I did not say at any point that LBJ/MLK was a racist remark. That doesn't mean that some people were not offended by it - but it is certainly not racist.

by marcotom 2008-03-17 03:49PM | 0 recs
Re: LBJ under the bus

I do not believe Ted Kennedy's decision was made because of LBJ/MLK remark. I just found it funny that Ted Kennedy had to use the remarks as an excuse or reason to his "close friends". That's all.

by praxis1 2008-03-17 04:11PM | 0 recs
Re: A proposal for a compromise on race

Don't forget to take the poll! Very important.

Any suggestions, tips, flames, ...

by marcotom 2008-03-17 03:18PM | 0 recs
Re: A proposal for a compromise on race

I mostly agree with you. Most so-called "racial" moments were rather just dumb moments.

However, what I perceive as problematic is the reaction of Obama camp toward these comments from Bill and Hillary. As you pointed out, those comments were at worst just dumb not racist. Still Obama's surrogates went on TV and scremed racism. Pro-Obama sites did not give any benefit of doubt. Why? Actually I thought it would be just individual surrogate's opinion. But later I found out that there was a memo from Obama camp instructing these comments as "racial incidences".

Both sides said stupid things. However, it was Obama's camp which made mere stupid comments into major racial code/insults. That's what I resent the most.

by praxis1 2008-03-17 03:24PM | 0 recs
Re: A proposal for a compromise on race

Which Obama surrogate screamed racism? Please be specific, this MyDD echo chamber here creates a lot of half-truths and I rather have specifics.

I forgot to mention the memo. The memo was not issued by the Obama campaign headquarters, it was the work of a SC campaign worker. It was a mistake and Obama later regretted it.

That is your opinion. You are giving the benefit of the doubt to the Clintons, maybe you should extend that to include the Obama campaigned as well. I did the same thing from the other side - first I thought the Clintons are playing on racism to score political points. But now I've come around and think that it was just a series of dumb moments.

by marcotom 2008-03-17 03:53PM | 0 recs
Re: A proposal for a compromise on race

Obama is giving a speech on race tomorrow. I will compromise with this: If Obama states WITHOUT equivocation that the Clintons (both) are NOT racist, I will stand down from my decision to not vote for him in the GE.  He doesn't have to spend alot of time on it, but a firm statement of that will allow for that compromise. I will continue to grumble but if he does that TOMORROW. I will stand down. If he waits to do it at the convention it will be to late.

by monstergrrl 2008-03-17 03:27PM | 0 recs
Kind of agree BUT, he has to do more...

...than make a passing statement about the Clintons not be racists.  

Obama has to go through the Clintons' history with the AA community and then say, without compromise, these people have lived their lives to help blacks in America and I am sorry that any other impression has come out of any part of this primary and I thank them for the example that they have set for all Americans.

by Shazone 2008-03-17 03:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Kind of agree BUT, he has to do more...

Absolutely. That would restore my respect for Obama.

by praxis1 2008-03-17 03:36PM | 0 recs
I need a lot more...

I need an admission of his guilt in the matter !!

by SevenStrings 2008-03-17 03:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Kind of agree BUT, he has to do more...

He will do that after Clinton drops out or when she is the nominee. It's not his job to talk up her life experience, she doesn't do that for him either. To the contrary, as you know very well.

by marcotom 2008-03-17 04:25PM | 0 recs
Well, then, he has no shot with this Dem.

None.

by Shazone 2008-03-17 04:48PM | 0 recs
Re: A proposal for a compromise on race

He has actually said many times that he doesn't think the Clinton's are racist. If I find a youtube video, I'll give you the link.

by marcotom 2008-03-17 03:54PM | 0 recs
I like your diary

And I generally--not entirely, but generally--agree with the comments you've posted on each subject.  They're fair-minded overall, and I know that's not easy for a hard-edged partisan such as yourself, so I offer kudos for that.

HOWEVER--you did leave out what to my mind are possibly the two most important examples from the Obama campaign.  I'm talking about (1) the memo, at least purportedly from Obama's campaign chair in SC (and the campaign has never denied it was from her to my knowledge), setting out Clinton-racism talking points; and (2) Obama's own carefully-parsed comments about Clinton's MLK-LBJ remarks, in which he bashed the (entirely innocuous) remarks pretty heartily under the guise of merely reporting other people's reactions, all while carefully pointing out that he was above the fray because "I have't remarked on it [Clinton's statement]."

Those are probably the most important, to my mind's eye, of all the race incidents, because they pretty clearly came from the top of the campaign.  And you can throw in the Obama camp's eager seizing on Drudge's highly-dubious sourcing of the African garb photo, as well as Obama's own incantation of that sourcing last week, well after the frenzy had died down: those also came straight from the top.

You also left out Bob Kerrey's madrassa comments and Bob Johnson's neighborhood comments on the Clinton side, but those guys are two notorious loose cannons so I personally would not be quick to impute those statements to Clinton herself.

by Trickster 2008-03-17 04:54PM | 0 recs

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