Sunday, January 27, 2008

Clinton Lost More Than Just The Vote

South Carolina degenerated into a ugly spectacle of racial tension and political ambition. To say the voters in South Carolina were turned off by the tactics of the two-headed Clinton is an understatement, by all accounts many were just plain offended and angry. Obama trounced Clinton, beyond any one's wildest expectations, in every demographic, in all quarters. It's still yet to be determined how South Carolina helps Obama on Super Tuesday, but at the very least, he is clearly back in the game.

One aspect of Obama's campaign, that I had admired previously, his intentional resistance to playing the race card. A candidate first, not much emphasis on skin color, no sense of pandering to a demographic. Whether your candidate of choice or not, it was a fascinating statement on just how far America may have come, the first hint that the debate was moving forward.

That sense all changed after New Hampshire, as the stakes were raised in this dogfight of a nomination. Unfortunately, it was the Clinton's that decided to interject race into the equation, in response to the idea that African Americans might rally to Obama. A pre-emptive strike, which ultimately soured the entire process.

Last night, African Americans did rally to Obama's side, exit polls suggest a full 80%. Obama carried all groups, women, men, drew even with whites, but it was what happened with African Americans that was interesting, and it may have a lasting impact.

After Obama's convincing victory, Bill Clinton referenced Jesse Jackson, arguing that he too had won South Carolina before, which was an attempt to downplay any momentum. Bill Clinton's characterization is just plain offensive, it diminished Obama's achievement, but more than that, it makes the parallel, based solely on race.

I remember when Jackson ran, particularly the first time. Jesse Jackson never had very much appeal outside of the African American community, in many respects his campaign was more of a statement, than a realistic opportunity to become President. Jackson did well, but there was always this sense that the bid was "limited".

I see no parallels with the Obama campaign, apart from the superficial. The fact that Bill Clinton made the connection, knowing full well the nature of the Jackson bids, was very disappointing, not to mention quite petty. Bill Clinton, the man fondly remembered as the symbolic "first black President" is now reduced to playing politics along racial lines, uses words to fracture, all in the name of personal ambition.

If Barack Obama is now the "black" candidate, it isn't because of his deeds, but in reaction to those of others. If African Americans are turning against Hillary Clinton, despite her impressive historical ties to that community, it more to do with the unseemly, then it is Obama using race to his advantage. The way in which the Clinton's have conducted themselves in the last few days will have lasting impact, and it would seem, it's justly deserved.

18 comments:

Tomm said...

Steve,

That is a telling comment by Clinton. He is treating this like it is 1992. Probably won't work this time.

But that being said, if Hillary keeps her lead with women and immigrants, she will win her share on Super Tuesday and may still win this thing in a walk.

Obama has a lot more work in front of him.

It is certainly the closest campaign I can ever remember.

Tomm

Steve V said...

"Obama has a lot more work in front of him."

Agreed. I just think SC played about as bad as possible for Clinton.

Tomm said...

Sounds like it. Same as Iowa.

Anonymous said...

first hussein obama is the one that played the race card, second, his policies canot be payed for, thanks to bush, third he is to liberal for republican congressman and senators, gridlock, and finaly, if the democrats goes stupid, there is not enough latinos and whites who will vote for him, therefore handing the presidency to bushlike mackain...in sc, blacks voted obame whites voted clinton...I just dont see him going anywhere further, now it is going to be,,,lets all vote against him because the black obviously voted for him not for his policies but because of his color,,,and thats the end of him...for anyone who listens to this fool, has anyone really listen, or is this just a ...oooooow, a black man ........we can make history....

Anonymous said...

This creepy anon 11:27 is going all over the blogosphere saying "Hussein Obama" - must be a CPC'r.

I find it interesting that Robert Kenndey, Jr. is endorsing Hillary and yet not headlines, but when Teddy wants to bring bro back and Carolyn wants to bring daddy back - major headlines. We all know the work Robert Kennedy Jr. has done on environmental issues and I think it's important - he must feel Hillary will take the environment very seriously.

Although he shouldn't have, I think Bill Clinton is losing it over the constant bad press, attacks etc. on him and Hillary and you can't deny it's any other way.

I'm quite frank sick and tired of this messiah stuff. Americans are really into hero worship and celebrity and they voted for Bush the same way - he was going to clean up Washington.

I think it's time for the media to stop pushing for Obama and start challenging and protecting him because sure as hell, if he wins the nomination the republicans will make mince meat out of him. If nothing else, Bill Clinton is giving him a small dose of what would be and indirectly doing Obama a favour.

Lynne

Scotian said...

I trust Steve V: that you verified the full context of the Clinton JJ statement to make sure it wasn't misinterpreeted/mirepresented and then removed from the full context, right? I ask because I know the original media release on this was edited and that the full comment is something far less obviously a racial slam int he manner you portray it here and others have. I'm sure you remembered that the MSM in the USA has a bit of a hate-on for the Clintons, right? I'm sure you know that the JJ comment was in direct response to being asked about whether any black candidates can win, right?

I'm sorry Steve V I disagree profoundly with you here regarding who has been playing the "race card" since NH, especially given the outrageous way the Obama camp turned a "fairy tale" into a race baiting remark when they claimed Bill said that of Obama's entire campaign when the original context shows Bill talking very specifically about his argument about how he always vigourously opposed the Iraq war (which was far more egregious a misrepresentation of the facts as well as adding the racial tinge to it than the Bill Clinton interpretation of the Reagan comment I might add) and the turning of the LBJ/MLK into a another example of playing the race card (especially when Obama made the context first and Clinton was working within the frame Obama had set) by the Obama campaign was really unsettling.

I trust you remember one of Obama's people, one JJ jr as I recall after NH asking where Hillary's tears were for NO after Katrina and that was not picked up as the Obama camp using race to explain their loss in NH? You remember the claims of Bradley effect despite there being no drop in his support from the polls to the results (which is what should have happened in a Bradley effect) only a major increase in HRC's support from both Obama's camps and the MSM desperate to explain how they had gotten it so wrong doing into NH's vote?

I'm sorry Steve V, I have been watching the events down there very carefully for months now, and while I rarely comment on it because I generally don't want to fight with fellow Canadian progressives regarding internal Dem politics, but I am getting more than a little disturbed at how easily cherry-picked comments are being turned into racist statements by Clintons and of watching the Obama campaign use that to its advantage despite supposedly being above/beyond race. I don't trust politicians that talk out of both sides of their mouths, especially when they run morality campaigns as Obama is doing.

While I will take any Dem candidate this year over any GOP one I think Obama is benefiting massively from a media willing to help him kill the Clintons, but what happens when that same dishonest media decides it is his turn after HRC is knocked out? How will the Clintons be able to credibly campaign for him in the general after they have branded them as "do anything say anything to win" people? How does he use the Clinton economic record to show Dems are better government because he has gone along with this destroy the Clintons party the MSM/MCM media in the US are throwing? That he is willing to take advantage of the media smears and run with them kills his moral authority for calling out the media when it happens to him down the road, and the fact he and his campaign do not see/care about this is something I find very disturbing given the reality of politics in the USA these days.

Obama claims to be doing politics differently but his campaign’s actions and their repeated willingness to play with context and chronology so as to blame the Clintons as the source of all the dirty and especially race baiting politics in this race shows his own issues with honesty IMHO. He is relying on the media and public being willing to believe that because of all the shit that has been flung at the Clintons for 16 years, and I am sorry to see you looking like you got caught in it too.

Steve V said...

scotian

Obama responded, so he contributed to the debate. That said, if you look at the chronology, I seem to remember the Clinton camp bringing up MLK, which was the first salvo, wasn't it? Also, wasn't it a Clinton event, where the BET founder went after Obama?? These were the moments that started a maelstorm, which is why I don't take as hard a view of Obama as you, he didn't create the talking points here, it was the Clinton initiative- that seems clear in my mind.

Here is the clip of Bill and the JJ reference. His comment comes out of nowhere, is in no way related to the question, it's actually quite appalling.

We agree to disagree, and the reason I take Obama's "side" here isn't preference, but because I had made the previous observation of how he had consistently avoided the race card. The history is quite clear, the issue was raised when the Clinton's started talking about it, that seems completely clear, reactions and counters aside.

Ted said...

"Obama carried all groups, women, men, drew even with whites"

Where did you read that?

I read the exact opposite of that in the Globe today, that Obama blew away Clinton among African Americans, but Clinton handily won whites overall and women in particular. I've not read about any other groups so can't comment.

Steve V said...

ted

"But exit polls showed Obama winning majorities across nearly all demographic groups -- including women, who made up about 60 percent of Saturday's voters and who were a bulwark of Clinton's wins in New Hampshire and Nevada.

link

I may have misread the "whites" part, Clinton and Edwards were virtually tied.

Ted said...

Thanks, Steve. I was referring to this column which does speak just to whites in South Carolina but to latinos and women in other states:

"But among white voters overall, Ms. Clinton outpolled Mr. Obama heavily in South Carolina. Her count, and that of North Carolina senator John Edwards, were both in the upper 30s, while Mr. Obama polled only about a quarter of that constituency.

And in Nevada, which has a large Latino population, Ms. Clinton's support within that community outpaced Mr. Obama's 2 to 1."

Ted said...

Might help if I actually inserted the link.

And for what it's worth, while I am not sure who I would want to win between McCain, Guiliani, Clinton, Obama and Edwards, and while I am increasingly impressed with Obama and less so of the others, there is no question that the media are going out of their way to create a success story out of Obama and to deliberately misinterpret Bill Clinton. To paraphrase him, I feel his pain and frustration.

And, if the Liberal leadership campaign is any indicator, it pays to have your party really kick the tires of all of the potential leadership candidates and not just ride out a good storyline.

Scotian said...

Steve V:

I can't play video files online so I use transcripts instead. The transcript I found for this reads in part as follows:

“My message has been 99.9% positive for 100% of this campaign,” Clinton said to reporters later. “I think that when I think she’s being misrepresented, I have a right to try to with factual accuracy set the record straight, which is what I’ve tried to do.”

A number of prominent Barack Obama supporters and neutral observers have criticized Clinton’s vocal role on his wife’s behalf. John Kerry told National Journal that “being an ex-president does not give you license to abuse the truth.”

“Did you notice he didn’t specify?” Clinton said when asked about the comment. “They never do. They hurl these charges, but nothing gets specified. I'm not taking the bait today. I did what I could to help Senator Kerry every time he needed me, and every time he asked me. He can support whomever he wants for whatever reason he wants. But there's nothing for me to respond to.”

Another reporter asked what it said about Obama that it “took two people to beat him.” Clinton again passed. “That’s’ just bait, too. Jesse Jackson won South Carolina twice, in '84 and '88. And he ran a good campaign. Senator Obama's run a good campaign here, he’s run a good campaign everywhere.”

-----------------

Now, does that look like it "came out of nowhere" to you? Last night I ran across this because people were saying the video clip made it look like this comment came unsolicited and without any basis for it and someone said it had been truncated, referred to this transcript from NBC and from what those who had seen the clip said after reading it that the first part clearly was edited out of the clip they had seen. Since you can view video files if you tell me that the clip you linked to shows the preceding questions to which his JJ reference is the follow-up to, you know the question right before in the quote I gave you right behind the "That's just bait too" beginning of the JJ quote/reference.

Now, if they match then I withdraw my concern about you having been misled here and are basing your opinion/evaluation in proper context, I will still disagree with how you are taking it but I will be sure you weren't one of the many people that were mislead by an edited clip online. If you want to see the transcript for yourself, the URL is:

http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/
archive/2008/01/26/611927.aspx

Yes, I know, I suck at making links in comments, sorry about that.

As to MLK, it was Obama that first brought him up to which when the Clintons were asked about it was responded to with the LBJ it took a President to make it law, which is exactly true and I do not see how as a response to Obama's original citing of MLK that it can be seen as the Clinton's going to the "race card" in that reference.

As to Obama "avoiding the race card" completely statement, sorry, I have never agreed with that assessment, I have watched the Obama campaign repeatedly go to the race well in the past, if only in very veiled comments/language like when campaigning with and on Oprah for example and/or interviewing with a black media outlet to show he's one of them (which btw I do not have a problem with anymore than HRC appealing to women in similar contexts after all it is the demographic you are courting at the moment and have the most direct connection to, but I refuse to not claim they aren't appealing to race first which is my books the definition of playing the race card be it negatively or in these cases with Obama I'm talking about positively), especially when they turned the MLK/LBJ and then the Fairy Tale comment into racist slurs when they clearly were no such thing, especially the fairy tale comment being portrayed by the Obama campaign as being about his entire candidacy when the original context made it explicitly clear it was referring specifically to his Iraq war position and his record once in the US Senate on Iraq.

I'm sorry Steve V, but you are quite possibly being taken in by one of the most openly biased media driven (while the Obama camp may be taking advantage of it I place the primary impetus for this becoming racial squarely in the MSM/MCM lap) smear campaigns against a candidate that I have ever seen. The media has repeatedly truncated comments and removed context to make it look racial in overtones (that is when they bother to even report any of it verbatim at all instead of giving their "interpretation" of what was "really being said"), the Obama camp takes the media reports at face value and the Clintons get smeared for something that clearly was never racist, and then when the Clintons fight back (often simply by trying to get the original context out there) they are branded as the ones being "divisive" and "dishonest" and as Obama himself said of Hillary himself recently the "say anything do anything to win" candidate.

Obama has a major ally in the media given the Clinton hatred within it down there, which is why you aren't hearing about his attempts to inject race and other hardball tactics while hearing all about the Clinton ones, what worries me is once the Clintons are no more in the race the media will then turn around and tear Obama down, and without his luster of "inspiring" what else does he have to recommend him to the Presidency? That is a very dangerous weakness IMHO, and one being glossed right over in the Obama fervour.

Steve V, in all the times you seen me comment, have I ever made the context argument when it was not relevant? Have you ever known me to be declarative about whether someone is in context or not unless I had already checked the source/original material to make sure? I ask you to consider that when you consider what I am saying here versus what you think you have been seeing. One of the few positives/upsides of long term disability is that it provides me the time to do the in-depth checking into things instead of having to rely primarily on the middlemen of the media and headliner blogs for it.

From everything I have seen the Clintons did not use the race card first the Obama camp did (by this I mean when the respective campaign made a concerted use of it and not a single surrogate or two speaking/acting stupidly on either side of which there were some prior from what I've seen), remember after NH when JJ jr, Obama's campaign co-chair blasted HRC's winning by blaming her tears and stating "Where were her tears in Katrina?", and if that is not clearly racially coded then I ask you what is? Not to mention citing the "Bradley effect” to explain their loss despite no evidence to support that then or since in the demographic breakdown, as I explained before the "Bradley effect" would show him with more polling support than voting, and that was not the case, it was HRC that was seriously under polling instead of anyone overpolling versus the results which hasn’t a name I know of, at least not yet. Then, along with the MLK/LBJ and the Obama misrepresentation of the "fairy tale" comment the Obama camp lost control because the media went into a feeding frenzy.

I agree Obama has been overtly avoiding the race card for the most part, but he also had to win SC and win it big after he lost NH, and Nevada didn't help him either (btw, from what I've seen in the demographics numbers he has yet to break 35-36% of the white vote in any primary/caucus and that is an important demographic fact to note, especially since he seems to get a minimum of 70% of the black vote in each which is of course a natural constituency for him to begin with down there and in Nevada he didn't do that well with latinos and I think Asians both also important demographic factors in the makeup of the electorate), so he tried it hoping to keep it contained I suspect and the media did what was entirely predictable and went nuts over it. Then, once the Obama camp saw it was getting away with blatant racial falsehoods about the Clintons they kept it up while stating they weren't the ones who started it despite the chronology showing the opposite.

The Clintons have their faults, no question, they play hardball politics with the most rugged of them, but to be willing to assume they will employ race in such a way after all they had done for AA in their lives and especially during Clinton's Presidency strikes me as no easier to accept than Obama playing the race card after avoiding it so seems to many others. The sad reality is though Steve V is that Obama's hands here are not clean at all in this, not at all, not when you take an objective look at all the source data and the chronology in which the sequence of events has happened. Obama's greatest asset is that his hardball tactics are not getting anywhere near the same exposure when they show up while the Clintons are in a guilty until proven beyond any reasonable/possible doubt innocent situation when it comes to their actions playing hardball being covered.

It is the massive unevenness of this that is most noticeable to me in all of this, and it really worries me. Take the last week of the heavy coverage of Bill and the minimal of Hillary throughout the TV universe, was that because she wasn't easily available for recording because she wasn't campaigning at least as hard if not harder than Bill or because the media decided on its own which way to go? If the latter, which I do see as the more believable explanation myself than HRC was not stumping as hard as her husband was for her why then were the media pundits/critics acting as if she wasn't and then castigating her campaign for why everyone was seeing more of Bill than Hillary on TV last week?

I thought the war against Gore was bad, but this is something else again, and given how naked it is as well as across the board (it is almost like with the buildup for the Iraq war and pro-war voices everywhere with very few anti-war voices and facts being heard from at all despite there being a significant amount of both of them) regarding the Clintons one cannot trust that one is hearing things reported accurately where the Clintons are concerned, worse one has to worry that the worst possible interpretation is being added to boot with the inaccuracy and interpretations being given.

This is why I have taken so much time and effort to go searching for the original sources on the various controversial comments (I do this too with things Obama and his campaign say too I should add, and the amount of distortion he is getting is significantly less and what it is tends to be favourable instead of unfavourable for him) from both camps, I don't trust that media at all after all I have seen them do over the past couple of decades and especially in the last decade of that. Once the fairness doctrine was removed things started deteriorating remarkably fast in this regard, and I always make sure to allow for it in all of my political assessments regarding American domestic politics, especially federal.

(sorry about the length, I think I broke my record here with this one, sorry about that but this is something I think a lot of observers are missing because they do not expect even the US media to be this open/blatant in their manipulations of video footage as well as interpretations)

Steve V said...

Scotian

You know I appreciate your perspective, but on this score we agree to disagree :)

Just to add, word is that Kennedy only decided to endorse Obama after being so disgusted in the tone of the debate in SC. I've heard two seperate reports that Bill's comments finally pushed him to endorse.

Scotian said...

Steve V:

So have I, but I think you may be overlooking something here, I see the pols down there as much captive to the narrative of the media as anyone else, and Kennedy is no exception (indeed, one of the standout aspects of the Clintons for Dem pols in my observation is their willingness to buck beltway narrative and conventional wisdom and be surprisingly often proven correct in their expectations regarding the voting public throughout their political history nationally, not a small consideration either). Just because someone of his seniority says something is so does not make it so, which is why I prefer to follow for myself back to original contexts and see what it looks like without treating it in isolation to be dissected for hidden meanings as well as making a point to keep sequence of events/chronology/timeline of event straight as they happen, especially when I have reason to suspect it will become a point of contention later. I can respect an honest difference of opinion on this though, but you didn't answer the one question of you I did pose, did my transcript and the clip you linked for me to use match up exactly or was it truncated to the beginning of the that's bait too part and thereby changing the context? I really would like to know.

In any event, I am not going to spend much time on this because this is not something either of us have any direct stake/say in, as we are not eligible to vote in their elections, and I know how much I get irritated with Americans telling us how we should approach our election choices. Aside from one American political blog that I have a long standing history at I have chosen to only comment on this race here a couple of times and I think once at KNB's. I do believe what I say as you know, and I am no less convinced of what I refer to as the wholesale kill the Clinton campaign being a real phenomena and that there really has been massive distortion of their comments and the chronology in which the back and forths between the Obama and Clinton camps have been, especially on the racial overtoned ones.

What will be interesting to watch though is Florida to see what kind of momentum SC and the Kennedy's gave Obama, indeed it will be a purer way to measure it than usual thanks to the lack of campaigning or usual GOTV apparatus in play in the State. If the dynamics don't change much in the final vote from where they were the day of SC then there will be minimal slippage if any for Clinton to Obama, if there is real "big mo" starting to form around Obama he needs to cut that lead well by I'd say at least a third to maybe 40% depending on which poll numbers one goes by. If he gets less than 10-15% gain then I would say he got a slight bounce, and if he ranges between those two then he got a moderate bounce, but fore big mo he has to do at least 30 to 40%in my estimation, especially given the demographic diversity of the State. I will say that I do look at the Dem primaries with one thing giving me unalloyed joy and that is the massive turnout (and while Obama significantly contributes to that I don't think one can fairly give him the majority/lion's share of the credit for why it is there this year) on the Dem side combined with the clearly dispirited GOP voters.

In any event, don't worry, I won't crusade on this election, I just had to go on the record in detail once with you here, beyond that I'll keep it fairly restricted I suspect. Take care Steve V, and it will be interesting to see down the road which one of us is reading the events here better, because I think this is going to be one of the more dissected primary campaigns once it wraps up whoever wins.

Steve V said...

"because I think this is going to be one of the more dissected primary campaigns once it wraps up whoever wins."

We agree there, one of the most fascinating primary seasons I can remember, on both sides.

Scotian said...

I hate to be picky about this Steve V but this is the second time I have asked you whether your clip matched my transcript and a second time you haven't despite my asking. Is there a reason why this is? As I said, I can't play video files on my computer (crap video card and no sound card currently being why) and am really curious to know whether the video link you were providing was complete or truncated.

I know I am being a pest about this, but one of the reasons I want to know is because I have seen a lot of comments around the blogosphere talking about how a clip proves Clinton spoke of this right out of the blue and I wonder how many Canadian bloggers like yourself may have been fed a truncated file that was passed off as a complete one. I am not looking to use your answer whichever it is as a gotcha thing, I just really would like to know how widespread the edited clip I know is out there got spread. As you may recall I tend to take such things seriously, remember how worked up I got over the Grewal editing? :)

Steve V said...

Scotian

The video shows the question asked, then the full response. It't not a soundbite, nor does it leave any room for interpretation.

Scotian said...

Stve V:

Cool, thanks. That's all I was wondering, it really bites having to rely on others for things on youtube because I can't play them. It leaves me at times feeling out of the loop, something I do not care for.