Obama playing the race card

Times of London columnist Alice Miles minces no words in calling Barack Obama for playing the race card without merit against Hillary Clinton:

What a shame that a contest that has the world gripped, that is transforming international opinion of the United States, that has shown America in its best and most brilliant light, threatens to descend into a pathetic slanging match over race. What a shame for the centre Left, which had everything to cheer about in the stunning choice between, potentially, the first female and the first black president, that they are allowing the contest to slip into an idiotic series of unproven claims about racial bias.

On Monday Hillary Clinton called for a truce reminding everyone that “Senator Obama and I are on the same side”. Hear hear. But how did it come to this?

The thin catalogue of complaints against the Clinton campaign from the Obama campaign were unfounded, manipulative and self-indulgent. At best they called into question the oversensitivity of Mr Obama, at worst they showed him willing to play a divisive race card that is damaging the entire Democratic Party and tarnishing a great and historic electoral contest for the centre Left. The whole episode has convinced me he isn’t tough enough for the White House.

For since when has referring to somebody’s past admitted drug use – if indeed the Clinton campaign ever intended to do that, which is far from clear – been a racial slur? More racist, I would say, to equate drugs with blacks, and that’s what the Obama campaign is doing, not the Clinton one.

As for Mrs Clinton’s statement that Martin Luther King’s dream of racial equality was realised only when President Johnson managed to get the 1964 Civil Rights Act through Congress? No more than fact, surely; an attack on Mr Obama’s lack of experience, certainly, but hardly a slur upon King. Mr Obama’s campaign is twisting things so that a comment about any black man is a comment about him, just as any attack on him is an attack on all black people. I ask again: who is playing the race card here?

She’s unafraid to say what we’re afraid to say in the U.S. And I think she’s right.

  • While I am disappointed in the Obama campaign for those tactics, I’m no less disappointed with the Clinton campaign for playing the sex card and Huckabee for religion.

    I wonder if we will ever hold our politicians to a higher standard, or if politics is unable to escape our base instincts.

  • Larry Grant

    This woman is full of sh*t!!! President HAD to sign civil rights legislation due to the pressure exerted by the forces of social change. POWER TO THE PEOPLE….Obama 2008-2016.

    • Robert James

      Gee Larry, I am not sure that I am as well educated as you. I do remember a certain hate groups using that very some line, “POWER TO THE PEOPLE.” How did that work out for them? It didn’t work out. Look at your history books for WWII. Or better yet look at the current events, with Mideast hatred of the West (USA). Why should they want to harm me? I have done nothing to harm them. Look at 9/11, did any of those people do anything to those attackers to be killed? I was born a free man just like you, and from history socialism never has worked for the public or the common people. The only benefit goes to those within power.

  • Larry Grant

    PS: What candidate for President goes around crowing about becoming the first woman president? Gender card, maybe….

  • Larry Grant

    PS: What President admitted smoking marijuana without inhaling? And Hillary wasn’t down with it???>

  • Ted

    No one is afraid to say this, it’s simply wrong.

    Please, ask yourself Cui Bono?

    Obama has no desire to make race an issue. This is a racist country, race hurts Obama, it doesn’t help him. Every statement he’s personally made has been trying to tamp down this phony debate on race.

    People felt that Hillary misspoke, she later said as much. Her point was not racial, but again Cui Bono? Not Obama…

  • Jason Kramer

    What is it about this campaign that turns normally reasoned, intelligent people into blathering idiots.
    First Andrew Sullivan goes off the anti-Clinton deep end, and now you’re becoming a blindered shill for Clinton.

    Stick to media criticism.

  • i think you (and Alices Miles) are WAY off base

    in the run-up to New Hampshire, the Clinton machine took a page from Karl Rove and “swift-boated” Obama – a concerted series of attacks that framed him in a box. Sen. Clinton, attempting to take the wind out of Barack Obama’s King and Kennedy-esque sails, said the following: “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.” The comments by Bill Clinton, Robert Johnson, Andrew Cuomo & Charlie Rangel all drove this point home.

    You can already see the impact in yesterday’s Michigan results, where exits polls showed “Uncommitted” winning by a 70-26 margin among African-Americans.

  • Doug Lay

    I guess Jeff didn’t get the memo that we’re supposed to be moving beyond this crap. Very disappointing, and soooo behind the curve (like 3 days ago).

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  • Exactly, Jeff. And if one can ignore the juvinalia you got in response, it’s a topic that needs to be discussed.

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  • Jeff,

    I’m disappointed that you’re publishing this anti-Obama propaganda. Just hang your Hillary banner on the blog and be done with it.

    Bob Carlton (hey, Bob!) gets it right here. The Clinton campaign is the one on the attack here — constantly! Obama’s people are responding 99.9% of the time to constant attacks. It’s tiresome, and I for one am not fooled by it (as you seem to be).

    Wake up and smell the coffee. Clinton is faux change. Obama is the real deal. I pray you see the light ;-)

    Steve K.

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  • Colin Kerr

    So Obama plays the race card.

    Hillary seems to have a fairly full deck herself which includes the Tearful Woman card and the Wife of the Former President Card.

    This is politics…..

  • Igloo

    “Obama is the real deal.” Thanks for the laugh this morning! I haven’t seen robotic allegiance like this since GWB.

  • This post so unsavvy, it’s embarrassing. Bringing race into the discussion helps Obama? Are you kidding?

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  • chico haas

    Thanks to Hillary and Barack exploring the minefield of sexism and racism, the Republicans will walk a safer path.

  • Ryan

    The idea that Obama was playing “the race card” is laughable in its absurdity. Hillary Clinton and her supporters made several highly questionable remarks and Obama’s opposition research team pointed them out. What would you want him to do? Sit back and watch the Clinton slime machine distort and try to define him?

    The whole episode has convinced me he isn’t tough enough for the White House.

    Not tough enough? I thought this clip showed plenty of toughness (“Well, Hillary, I’m looking forward to you advising me as well.”): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rhPxSm9Es0w.

  • Brian O’Connell

    Past drug use had been an issue during the campaigns of the last two (white) presidents. I find it difficult to believe that the issue is suddenly racist when it’s raised about a candidate who’s partially of African descent.

    And I don’t know about LBJ, but it’s ridiculous to suggest that MLK gets all the credit for the civil rights movement, and that giving credit to anyone else is an affront to him, and racist too.

    It’s interesting that Clinton, playing the gender card, does so in a positive manner – Vote for me – the first woman president will represent real change, while Obama is mostly playing the race card in a negative manner – There are certain things you can’t say about me because I’m black. Of course Clinton is also using gender negatively – It’s not fair to gang up on the only woman running.

    What’s amusing and slightly disturbing is the level of animosity some of their supporters have for each other. Geez, publish some criticism about either and you get accused of being a sleazy shill for the other. C’mon people, there are plenty of bad things to say about both.

  • I am curious – why would Bob Johnson apologize today is it was not a acse of Hillary playing the race card:

    Four days after he made an unmistakable allusion to Obama’s teenage drug use and even referred to him as Sidney Poitier, Clinton supporter Bob Johnson apologized to Obama for those remarks.

    “I’m writing to apologize to you and your family personally for the un-called-for comments I made at a recent Clinton event,” Johnson said in a statement. “In my zeal to support Senator Clinton, I made some very inappropriate remarks for which I am truly sorry. I hope that you will accept this apology. Good luck on the campaign trail.”

  • Ryan

    Past drug use had been an issue during the campaigns of the last two (white) presidents. I find it difficult to believe that the issue is suddenly racist when it’s raised about a candidate who’s partially of African descent.

    Only the most exuberant Obama supporter would link questions about his teenage drug use as being racist. It’s not. However, when at least two Clinton supporters (Billy Shaheen and Bob Johnson) either outright suggest “drug dealing” (instead of simply use of drugs), it crosses a line into the racial. How come Al Gore, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton were never asked about drug dealing? I’m sorry, but if you can’t see the Clinton campaign’s race-baiting, you’re just not looking hard enough.

  • Eric

    Well, I guess when your whole ideology is based on proving victimhood in an effort to secure largess from the treasury this kind of thing is inevitable. A contest to prove who is the bigger victim.

    “I’m the biggest victim because I’m black. Oh my God, she said ‘spadework’.”

    “No, I am because I’m a woman. Look, I’m crying! He’s picking on a girl.”

    I wonder what the plan is for the general election. Outside the Democratic party this kind of thing doesn’t play very well, so the more strident it gets the more damaged the eventual candidate will be. It will be interesting to see if said candidate can do a 180 degree turn from abject victim to fearless leader in the months between the end of primaries and the general.

  • Eric

    Oh, and by the way, there will never be a frank discussion about race in the US. As a white person, anything you say can be misconstrued as a sign of racism, and racism seems to be the one mortal sin of our age. See Ryan’s comment above – if you don’t see racism, you’re not looking hard enough!

    So white people simply won’t talk about it except to agree racism is bad. Bad, bad, bad! And when 82% of the society won’t talk about something, what kind of discussion are you having?

  • Ryan

    Please point out one instance where Sen. Obama was decrying his treatment or playing the race card. Then, if you’d like, I’ll point out at least five statements by the Clinton campaign that, at the very least, were questionable in their racial intent.

    Eagerly waiting your response.

  • Eric

    Senator Obama? Of course not. Candidates don’t engage in that sort of thing themselves – they have minions to do the dirty work. But I already gave an example up above. Hillary used the word “spadework”, and his supporters went wild. Now, you may see that as race baiting. I don’t – I see it as a cynical, manufactured hypersensitivity on the part of Obama’s campaign.

    It’s not the only instance, either. The flap over Hillary’s MLK remarks is another example. Genuflecting before the memory of MLK is a reflexive action for Democratic candidates (and even some Republicans). She probably works at least one MLK reference into every single speech without even thinking about it. Patronizing? Sure. But race baiting? No, not until Obama’s people try to spin it that way.

    The point is when Obama’s campaign gets to decide what’s offensive to black people they will always find something. All they have to do is “look hard enough”, to quote you. That, my friend, is “playing the race card”. If Obama can (through his people) successfully tag her as a racist (or, at least “questionable”), her campaign will evaporate.

    Of course Hillary isn’t exactly taking the high road, as she’s doing the same thing with her gender. In both cases it’s good politics for securing the Democratic nomination. But I think it will hurt them in the general election.

  • Cooler Heads

    I guess the Clintons are playing the “suppress the Hispanic vote in Nevada” card. Another graceful way to show off your integrity.

    I hate defending Obama because he is just a politician. But Jeff, you are usually so sharp and you have gone blind about this Hillary thing.

  • The more the conversation gets to be about race, the better the Clintons think they will do. It’s as simple as that.

    They want to nudge—even provoke—Barack Obama into becoming the “black” candidate rather than the healing, unity candidate. They want black supporters to raise their voices on his behalf—preferably the Al Sharpton types who will shrilly cry “racism” and thus exacerbate the divide.

    That’s why Billary changed the conversation in New Hampshire, risking some anger against them in the black communities—anger they know would be assuaged in a general election. Okay, let him carry South Carolina, as long as he is tagged with Afrocentrism.

  • Sky Pete

    It wasn’t that the youthful drug use is not fair game, but Hillary’s campaign manager in New Hampshire extrapolated of Obama being a possible drug dealer. It’s that stereotype of black man + drugs = street corner drug dealer, you know like we see on the TV. That was the offense. But the whole thing of what someone did when they were a fatherless kid is actually quite irrelevant 25 years later.

    Should Obama’s surrogates play dirty by raising the question.
    “Where was Hillary when Monica was playing with her husband’s Johnson ?”
    “Does Hillary count as her ‘experience’ her leadership of the Bimbo Eruption Team ?”
    “Are there anymore bimbos that we haven’t heard of, Yet ?
    “What about that court case against you and your husband being processed in the California Courts against you and your husband on charges of

  • Is that not funny that Obama is getting blamed for what Clinton did and she gets the credit for what he did: asking her to call a truce.

    I still recall her looks of disgust in a debate when Obama answered a question and she said the government has to lie to the people in opposition to his telling the truth about reasons for war. I did understand her reasonings: do not know the enemy what we are up to. But with all the spying going on and the Weapons of Mass Destruction lies, I want the truth from our elected officials, not more Hitler propaganda.

    Now her new ads she stresses “transparent government”. She has zero scruples. She simply steals and lies with her smiling face.

    Bill’s today headline is “Obama Camp Stirs Stirs Up Trouble” with the race card. Actually his wife did that. I lived through those years when she was a Goldwater girl working to elect one of the 5 Republican senators that voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act. She also forgot the two Civil Rights Acts passed prior to that one. Gee, I was hurt by that “it took a president to get it done” comment. It took the courage of thousands to get it done. Many paid with their lives. Some still alive today that saw their loved ones lynched, houses burned down and so on.

    I did not support Clinton due to Iraq and Code Pink. Now I absolutely hate her and Bill also. Tired of their lies and drama.

  • The Clintons will do anything to slander Obama and keep the public from remembering that he was actually 1/2 impeached for obstructing justice and lying under oath in the Supreme Court. US citizens obviously do not demand integrity from leaders anymore.

    I admired Hillary for standing up to Bush on the Dubai port deal. Of course, I did not know at that time that hubby Bill was one earning millions on the blood, sweat and tears of sweat shop like labor to build that jet set luxury resort. Some of those displaced Iraqi’s that went to Dubai to earn, did not get paid at all. Their pay was withheld for months at a time and when they quit they were not given their earned slave wages.

    I imagine Bob Johnson could afford to pay those $1,000. a night hotel prices in Dubai. It is rather a Bush/Cheney/Clinton monarchy that the people are voting for at the expense of the poor and middle class.

    Hillary does not want the press to talk about why her health care plan did not get implemented. She would not share details with other and refused to compromise on the plan. She did say she learned something from that experience and this time..

    The mandatory plan with government penalty makes little sense. Many of those uninsured are veterans~even Iraqi vets~being denied their earned benefits by the government they served to earn it. Then, she knows most people are tired of Iraq and want the troops out, so she goes right ahead and votes yes to the Iran Resolution, despite cautions from China and Russia for the US not to invade Iran. Her excuse for Iraq was “faulty intelligence” what intelligence is she using now?

    We are in debt to China to pay for Iraq, even middle class people are feeling a financial pinch due to rising oil prices, and she thinks we can afford Iran? What does she care? She and Bill can always relocate to Dubai if the US of A goes down the tubes.

    Yes, indeed, they want the public to think Obama is playing the race card, just as she has been playing the gender card with breaking her ultimate glass ceiling. She is effectively dividing people, whereas Obama unites. If she gets the Dem bid the Republicans can be almost assured a win, as those who refuse to vote Clinton ditch the party.

  • Unbelievable did Miles come in 1/2 way through the saga?!?! Or are the Clintons just that clever. Hillary and Bill started swift boating Obama LAST YEAR and he said nothing, now finally he says something and all of a sudden HE is playing the race card? What race is he anyway? Biracial?

    It is clear that we haven’t moved as far forward as we would’ve liked. I’ve seen politicians do what the Clintons have done over and over. Lyndon Johnson did it, Reagan did it in California and i could go on and on. They say 2% truth and sell it as 100%. Then they blame the victim or have someone from their campaign say something damaging but off topic, then disown the staff member. Incredible

    Don’t fall for it people…

  • Dan

    I love this blog, and love the views and commentary Jeff provides. I am also am an avid follower of politics, and of democratic politics and am just getting worn out by the Pro-Clinton after Pro-Clinton point of view on every issue. Jeff is free to post them, but I may start skipping every political post as the bias seems too prevelant. Keep up all the great media talk though.

  • Dwayne

    Obama promises a lot of things but has delivered nothing of mention in his career. He is good at quoting Dr. King and saying how everything sucks and he’s gonna revolutionize the government. He does vote in congress but he votes present for most of the issues. He’s delirious if he thinks he’s gonna over haul government in 4 or 8 years. Most of the people that support him have no idea what change he is talking about or what hope he offers. he’s just like Ross Perot – how are we gonna fix things, by changing them, how are we gonna change them, by fixing them, on and on… It’s to bad his supporters are all sheep, but i am sure he will lead them to the promise land just like moses, except he will only have 8 years to wander not 40.

  • jamie hassen

    yes, obama played the race card. this isn’t to say that some remarks were made, but they were only sound bites and taken totally out of context. the one’s about ferraro are particularly disturbing. did ferraro not say also that he was lucky not to be a woman of any color. yet, history will not reflect these statements. obama seems to not only have played the race card, but used sexism to his advantage. sexism is largely overlooked, while racism is not. obama you have a nerve. i saw you ride high on supposed remarks, complain about them to the media, and now that your pastor has made some unsettling remarks, to say the least, about race, you want us to look the other way. how dare you obama

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  • Notasillyyank

    Needless to say claims of anyone being able to play a “gender card” are naive and unhelpful. Given that gender slurs and gender hatred are far more prevalent than other forms of discrimination I doubt it is possible for a “gender card” to even exist. Claims like that always come from angry entitled males who are also bitter that the presidency risked going to a black man, but when choosing between that and a woman, being the ignorant supremecist he is, he’ll choose the man thank you very much.