Hat tip: The Daily Dish

From TPMElection Central:

Check out this little nugget from the campaign trail in Nevada, as per the Las Vegas Review Journal:

Clinton implied that Obama’s career has mostly been spent running for office rather than governing.

“He was a part-time state senator for a few years, and then he came to the Senate and immediately started running for president,” she said. “And that’s his prerogative. That’s his right. But I think it is important to compare and contrast our records.”

Um, no.

He was an Illinois State Senator for 8 years. Nothing ‘part-time’ about that, Senator ‘I got everything because of who I married’ Clinton. In fact, he has more TOTAL elected experience than YOU DO. And, he was never HANDED anything either. He EARNED both his Illinois State Senate seat, AND his Illinois Senate Seat, beginning from nothing.

From the NY Times

Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the highest-ranking African-American in Congress, said he was rethinking his neutral stance in his state’s presidential primary out of disappointment at comments by Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton that he saw as diminishing the historic role of civil rights activists.

Mr. Clyburn, a veteran of the civil rights movement and a power in state Democratic politics, put himself on the sidelines more than a year ago to help secure an early primary for South Carolina, saying he wanted to encourage all candidates to take part. But he said recent remarks by the Clintons that he saw as distorting civil rights history could change his mind.

cross-posted to goodCRIMETHINK

This week has been a mess as far as major media is concerned. I got caught up in a frenzy last weekend and so did many in the country. Over the past week, writers for this blog have attempted to make sense of New Hampshire, the polls, the potential Bradley Effect, women voters and Obama’s prospects in South Carolina. So, I’m excited to present a perspective from a soldier in the ground this past weekend.

He’s a (black) friend I haven’t seen since middle school, but he heard I was looking for New Hampshire first-hand stories. He wrote this to me on Monday, before the vote (and before the tears). There is some incredibly accurate analysis which challenges the mainstream media narrative and some of the conclusions drawn by this blog; there is also just plain interesting observation. I have made bold certain sections for emphasis and removed peoples’ last names. Otherwise, these are his words.

i went to nh this weekend and here is my journal about it. feel free to send on to whomever you think will appreciate it. i am hoping some folks who are thinking about helping out will do so. it was one of my proudest moments.

—-

As asked by most of you, but not all of you, here are some highlights from the canvassing we did in Hollis, NH (just outside of Nashua) this weekend.
i broke it down into stats and fun stories. i tried to make it as unbiased as possible, but obviously my heart is in a specific place

if you are at all interested in seeing Obama win, trust me when i say he is still the underdog even if he wins today we need your help. people are only now beginning to take a look at him and consider him as a legitimate candidate. no matter what magazine cover he is on or
interview he gets, before Thursday, folks were convinced he could not be elected. while they are taking a look at him now, the opposition will probably stop at nothing (for example going negative this weekend) to win the big states that will be up for grabs on super tuesday,

even if Senator Obama wins today this thing is far from over

……………………

First off, Christine, Jake and I left Brooklyn (without a confirmed place to stay) around 7:30PM and arrived at 12:30AM. Around 11PM, the campaign called us (for the fourth time that evening) and told us that Jonathan had offered to let the “two of us sleep” on “Jonathan’s” floor. We told the campaign that we had a last minute addition of one volunteer and after a few more phone calls, we were told that Jonathan was happy to have all three of us. Naturally, I assumed that Jonathan was an employee of the campaign whose hotel room was paid for. Turned out, he
was a volunteer from NYC, just out of the Navy and he was paying for the room himself. Could not have been a more pleasant guy. We agreed that he had a Ralph Maccio thing going on which added to the flavor of the night. There was just enough floor space for us to sleep on the cigarette smoke ridden carpets.

We arrived at the canvassing HQ at 9:30 the next morning. The HQ was the basement of Tom and Mary’s spacious house. They had a son
who graduated from Williams in ’97, so we chose to focus on our admiration for Obama instead of any school rivalry. However Tom and I bonded over having both been present at the best football game ever (Williams v. Amherst -1997)

The basement was home to 4-6 volunteer coordinators who had been there for I don’t know how long. At any given moment, there were also tens of volunteers who came from as far as DC (Maine, PA, NYC, Conn were represented as well) to canvas. Strangers came in and out of their home and Tom and Mary always had a smile on their face and a conversation to start. Tom would later share with me that after NH was over, he planned to travel to other states to help out. The field coordinators were college kids (Mt. Holyoke was in effect) with all
sorts of energy and just about as much maturity. They sent us off with addresses, maps and flyers (they had different flyers for each day) and
told us to get to work. “Get-r- done,” became my motto for the weekend to quote Larry the Cable Guy.

APPROXIMATED STATS

I do not know from where the campaign got the lists of the addresses we canvassed.

40% of the homes visited did not answer the door. I saw a handful of people peek out of a window and I would smile and wave and continue walking away having already stuck a flyer by their doorknob.

When I knocked on a house, my opening line consistently was “Hi (smile), I’m canvassing for the Obama campaign and I was wondering if you were planning on voting on Tuesday.” Not a single person responded with a negative expression or comment. If they did not tell me their preference then I would ask if they were considering voting for the Senator. I would say 20% were for Obama, another 10% were leaning towards him. 20% were for a smattering of candidates, mostly, Mccain, Romney, Edwards and Clinton, in that order. This is where it
gets interesting.

Another 20% were deciding between Mccain and Obama! (for those
who don’t know, registered independents in NH (40% of the state’s 1.3 million citizens) are allowed to vote in either primary). These were the people with whom I had the longest conversations. 65% of them were leaning towards Mccain. The conversations suggested that these
were Republican leaning moderates who really are tired of the party and are looking for someone fresh and are hoping that Mccain can impress
them by today. The remaining 30% were undecided and/or had no desire to show their hands (people in their 50′s and 60′s were especially less
interested in telling me who they were voting for or who they were leaning towards while folks north of 65 were comfortable sharing anything.

I read and heard that app. 50% of the state genuinely had not made up their mind by last Friday. I think much of this uncertainty has to do with two factors. 1. The republican candidates are a mess 2. Obama has turned this into a true competition and now that people believe the country just might be willing to elect him, he is only just now getting the attention and consideration worthy of a legitimate candidate, further complicating matters.

10% of the people I spoke to were Republicans and could not vote in the Dem. Primary. Yet they also wanted to talk the most and for the longest. I was happy to do so, because while they pretty much knew who their first choice was, many stated that Obama was their second preference if their republican choice did not make it to the general election.

Many people expressed frustration with the number of flyers and phone calls, yet they often participated in a 5-10 minute conversation with us. They seemed to want the personal communication. At one point, Christine (who was welcomed inside by many homes) was having a conversation with a woman and the Obama campaign called this woman. The woman explained that she had a Obama canvasser in the house, yet whomever was calling kept on talking. The woman eventually told her that she would prefer to talk to Christine. Before Christine left the house, the Obama campaign called again.

As much as we got the impression that people were tired of all of the attention, the attention itself did not seem to have a negative effect on their decision. Which is a good thing for the Obama campaign, because as was said of their organization in Iowa and of SC and Nev., the effort, in manpower and other resources, is massive as well as first rate (see an email below from the chairwoman of the financial committee of the campaign).

The most important issue for anyone over 40 (the majority of the people we talked to) was health care. The war did not come up much, everyone seemed to be on the same page about it. Not one person mentioned wanting a president who was experienced in foreign policy and very few talked about the experience question in general. It felt like Obama was the choice because he has a good message and they did not seem to think anyone else was especially stronger on issues than he is.

MOMENTS FROM THE CANVASSING

A 68 year old man telling me he was voting for Obama and that he doesn’t want a woman in the White House. Me worrying that I had just cost the Senator a vote because I could not help but say, “Huh,” in disbelief and with shock in my face. He noticed I was surprised and then said, “I don’t know why?”

A man in his early 70′s asking me if the Senator would get inaugurated with his hand on a Bible or a Koran. Fortunately, I had already talked to the 68-year-old sexist so I was ready for mind boggling comments. I told the man that Obama is a Christian and the man said, “OK, well, I’m having supper right now, thank you.” It was 11:30 AM.

A white male who had voted for FDR telling me that Obama (for whom he was voting) should ask Colin Powell to be his running mate. I immediately responded with a cynical laugh, “You don’t really think this country will elect two black men do you?” He screamed, “Why not…” with legitimate anger and made me feel like I was the bigot, as if I had not had enough Obama KoolAid that day.

A woman telling me that she voted for Bush twice and was now leaning towards Obama.

Three families with republican parents and two children voting for Obama absentee from college.

Driving around NH using googlemaps on Jake’s I-Phone to find different side streets. I wish I knew someone at Apple, because we could make a great short movie about this (anyone?)

Bumped into some fellow volunteers who had been in town all week (from DC). One of them said that they had been calling people all week trying to shore up attendance for his rally at a school on Saturday afternoon. In the middle of the week, the campaign was worried about attendance and asked the phone callers to ask people to RSVP. They were expecting 500 people. 2,700 showed up and the line extended way outside and people had to watch via TV in another hall.

At the end of Saturday night, I went to Don’s home. He invited me inside for a glass of water. It was the first time someone had invited me in, and I was sad about that fact because my friend who flew from San Fran to canvass in Iowa for a week said that he was invited inside a number of times. I had been looking forward to similar hospitality. Don was undecided and asked me about Obama’s platform, I was able to answer his questions about the budget and the war, but not about job creation. Don’s wife is in full support of Clinton. Don asked his mother-in-law to come downstairs. Turns out she is a registered republican who has donated the maximum to obama and is sick to her stomach that she did not change her affiliation to independent so that she could vote for him. She gave me her number to give to a volunteer coordinator.

***The next day, as we drove back to HQ, around 4PM, to return our information before heading home, I drove by Don who was going for a walk. I stopped him and chatted him up. He said Obama did a very good job in the debate and that he liked what he had to say about the issues. He said he was mulling his decision on the walk he was taking. I thanked him one last time for his hospitality and we said our goodbyes.

SATURDAY NIGHT/ THE DEBATE

A greek owned pizzeria played host to the obama volunteers gathering to watch the debate on Saturday night. I wont forget the evening for a long time. Agewise, genderwise, racially, the spectrum was represented. I was really happy to see most of the women wearing a “Women for Obama” pin. The Hotchkiss School (shout out to Emily) even had a group of 7-10 teenagers. What struck me most about the comments made in the room during the debate was how complimentary people were of Clinton and her grasp of the issues. I was pleased to see that my fellow supporters of Obama recognized that Clinton is a worthy candidate and they simply believe in Obama more.

Afterwards, we hurried home to catch the spin on CNN, and Britney Spears was the story. The clock struck 12 and it was Christine’s bday so we went out for one drink. We went to the biggest resturant by day & bar/disco by night in Nashua and befriended the owner. He was miffed that Obama did not mingle more with his customers the two times he came for lunch meetings. He also wasn’t crazy about Obama’s tax plans. However, he said he was probably going to vote for Obama.

Hat tip: Politico.com

Dept. of word choice

A prominent New York Clinton supporter, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, on how Hillary beat Obama in New Hampshire by beating him at retail politics:

”It’s not a TV-crazed race. Frankly you can’t buy your way into it,” Cuomo said. “You can’t shuck and jive at a press conference,” he added. “All those moves you can make with the press don’t work when you’re in someone’s living room.”

Are you going to tell me THAT isn’t racial?

SHUCK AND JIVE?

How come it seems as if, we repeatedly get these statements coming from the Clintons, and/or their surrogates, and then we’re either given a phony apology, or we’re told we ‘misinterpreted’ it.

English is the PRIMARY language of the Black community. We understand it when we hear it, and don’t need anyone else to interpret it for us.

But, oh yeah, we’re ‘ imagining’ it.

UPDATE:

Here’s the ‘ Update’ from Politico.com

UPDATE: Though the report I link refers specifically to New Hampshire, Cuomo called to play the tape of the interview, in which he says nice things about Obama, and in which the quote above is describing both Iowa and New Hampshire — meaning it’s not a direct reference to Clinton’s primary victory, or attempt to explain it.

“Barack Obama is a beautiful symbol. He’s a powerful speaker. He’s a charismatic figure. And what he has to say is important for the Democrats,” Cuomo says in the interview, with the New York Post’s Fred Dicker.

“It was never about Obama in the first place,” Cuomo told me of the use of the phrase, which he said he was using “as a synonym for ‘bob and weave.’”

Once again, the ‘ explanation’…..yes, I can see how ‘ bob and weave’ can evolve into SHUCK AND JIVE.

As for the ‘nice things’….am I imagining things, or did Bob Kerrey say ‘ nice things’ as HE delivered the smear too?

‘Beautiful Symbol’.

BEAUTIFUL SYMBOL?

Is that akin to FAIRY TALE?

I’ll keep on repeating this:

When ‘Isolated Incidents’ cease being ISOLATED & INCIDENTAL

They form a PATTERN.

Accept what the PATTERN tells you.

Access To Power

10 Jan 2008

This story comes to you from the “Why It’s Bullshit To Talk About Sexism Without Discussing White Privilege” Department:

White women are making far greater strides in the workplace than their African-American female counterparts, according to a recent report.

Following the story links NPR provides to Pink Magazine, where the story originated, there isn’t a full text available but there is this summary:

Are white women supporting their black sisters in the fight for gender parity? The small percentage of African-Americans among women corporate officers (5.9 percent in one study) suggests the answer is no. High-ranking women of color in PINK’s January.February issue point out that white women are, in fact, afforded many of the same privileges as white males. “White women need to remember to honor the covenant between all women,” says Sandra Finley, president and CEO of The League of Black Women. “They need to stop saying, ‘That could happen to anybody.’ The reality is that what happens to black women is different.”

This isn’t a matter of negligence, it’s a matter of betrayal. Women like Steinem are quick to invoke “the sisterhood” as a reason to vote for Hillary Clinton, but black women see few of the same benefits that white women do; yet they’re still expected to feel (and act on) gender solidarity with people who essentially ignore the issues facing them. Unless it involves some high profile figure like Imus.

Watch this clip. Notice the moment of hesitation that Bill has when listing qualities that he can’t “make” Hillary have.

I’m going to try something. I’m not going to say what I think he was about to say, but didn’t. What do you think he was about to say?

Rally for Him NOW!

9 Jan 2008

Hat tip: Politico.com

From Slate.com

Rally for Him Now!
How Black America can revive Obama’s campaign.
By Melissa Harris-Lacewell
Posted Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2008, at 1:09 PM ET

So much for the post-race horse race. The exit polls in New Hampshire were accurate for the Republicans and for the second-tier Democrats. The only miscalculation was the amount of support for Obama. That miscalculation is about race. Iowa caucus-goers stood by Barack, in part, because when voting with their bodies, in front of their neighbors, Iowans are held accountable. In the quiet, solitary space of the voting booth, some New Hampshire voters abandoned Barack.

The reasons are not simple. Some media believe that women voters want a woman president. But there is not a substantial gender gap in American politics. Historically, white women voters are as likely to be Democrats as Republicans; as likely to vote for male candidates as for female; and as likely to describe themselves as conservative or liberal. It is not as simple as gender solidarity. Some observers will argue that naked racism explains Tuesday’s result. But that argument ignores the thousands of white women and men who built Obama’s local organization in New Hampshire and worked tirelessly on his behalf for months.

The New Hampshire results are a reminder of why Obama’s strategy is so new and difficult. He is asking voters to believe that although he has a “funny” name and does not look like them, he is nonetheless like them. He is asking voters to peer through the veil of America’s racial history and actually see him. It is a hard thing to do. When Hillary Clinton’s eyes welled up with the strain of the campaign, she evoked immediate recognition from many white women of her generation. “Oh, yes,” they thought, “I remember feeling like that.” Former President Bill Clinton rallied angrily for his wife, as he claimed that the media were picking on her while being soft on Obama. This is a familiar American narrative of race and gender, and it resonated with thousands of New Hampshire voters. Clinton cried about being attacked in the debates, but there are no public tears shed for the strain Obama must feel as a result of death threats, which caused the doubling of his Secret Service detail.

I am mad about it. I am mad because on the night that Barack Obama won the Iowa caucuses, I was in a crummy hotel room in Manchester, N.H. I was there with two dozen college students who came to work the primaries and see American democracy in action. Many of them were propelled to their first political action as a result of Obama’s campaign. I also brought my 5-year-old daughter, Parker, because I wanted her to take part in this historic election. When the Obama family took the stage in Iowa to perform the traditional presidential wave, I could not resist waking Parker from her sleep so that she could watch Barack, Michelle, and their daughters. “Look at the beautiful black girls who might get to live in the White House,” I told her as I held her sleepy head in my hands. Whatever authenticity anxieties the American media conjured last year, Barack’s Iowa triumph was unreservedly a moment of racial pride. Parker spent the rest of the week proudly carrying an Obama rally sign all over New Hampshire. Last night, I had to explain Obama’s loss. She wanted to know if his daughters were as sad as she was.

I know that many black Americans are discouraged and worry that New Hampshire’s results mean that America is not ready for a black president. What I know for sure is that if black Americans are going to be relevant to American elections, they must rally behind Obama now. Most white voters who indicated an Obama preference in New Hampshire were sincere and enduring in their support. Obama is the most viable black candidate in American history. Tens of thousands of white voters are in the Obama coalition for the long haul. Black Americans can now demonstrate their electoral power by making this a winning coalition. Starting with South Carolina, black America will have a chance to throw its full enthusiastic weight behind Obama.

In 2003, I was living in Chicago and watched Obama secure the Democratic nomination in the Illinois Senate race. The powerful Daley machine and its black allies in pulpits and municipal offices throughout the city encouraged African-Americans to reject Barack and support the machine candidates. But black voters repudiated these old tactics and joined Obama’s multiracial, intergenerational coalition in record numbers. They handed him the Democratic nomination, elected him to the U.S. Senate, and generated the momentum that initially propelled him to national prominence, thereby making his presidential bid possible. In this way, Obama’s campaign is already the result of black voters who chose him in the face of impossible odds and entrenched power.

Ben Smith at Politico said this was the flip side to that Gloria Steinum drivel, and I suppose it was.

But, the point Dr. Harris-Lacewell makes is clear: if we as a community are going to make a stand, then it has to be in South Carolina. So, if you know someone in South Carolina, call them up. If you know someone in a neighboring state, call them up and ask them if they’re going over to South Carolina to volunteer. The time is now.

The talk of gender bias and sexism from Gloria Steinem and Anne Applebaum yesterday was entirely absent an acknowledgement of white privilege, which I intend to discuss in some more depth here. But suffice it to say that white women in New Hampshire broke for Clinton in large numbers.

Clinton: 46% women
Obama: 34% women
Edwards: 15% women

Clinton: 29% men
Obama: 40% men
Edwards: 19% men

What is fascinating about Applebaum and Steinem is that they both had little problem crediting Obama’s blackness with his victory. We would never do this with another candidate; no one would ever argue that McCain is “whiter” than Mitt Romney and that’s why he won. Likewise, neither of these women would argue that being a white woman is an advantage, despite the fact that white women make up a majority of the population, and can influence an election in any state in the union. This is similar to the way white women remain absent from dicussions on affirmative action although they are it’s greatest beneficiaries.

The pre-election polls put Obama way ahead of Clinton. But a secret ballot is not a caucus; the open process in Iowa may have kept white voters consistent with what they were telling pollsters. Once in the voting booth, they changed their minds. This is called the Bradley Effect, and it’s been seen over and over again.

Matthew Yglesias at the Atlantic argues that this was not the case last night.

I should say we’re seeing some talk of a “Wilder effect” possibly doing Obama in. I don’t buy that. If you look at the breakdown of the results, you’d need to believe that white women, but not white men, are inclined to lie to pollsters about that. More likely we’re looking at a combination of gender backlash, plus the fact that Obama was so widely perceived as likely to win led independents to vote for John McCain in the GOP primary.

I think it’s mostly self-serving for liberals to argue that there was no Bradley or Wilder Effect here. The pre-polling in Iowa was significantly more accurate, and it was followed by a weeklong fiesta of interracial and bipartisan backslapping over how “far” Americans have come in dealing with racism. Everyone (including me) made themselves feel very good about what happened in Iowa without thinking critically about how the format itself might have prevented a Bradley Effect like occurrence. More importantly, while a “gender backlash,” as Yglesias put it can happen anywhere in America, there are only certain states where a similar reaction by black folks can change an election.

One of the variables in New Hampshire was the secret ballot. What influence this may or may not have will be seen if and when the phenomenon repeats itself, but the simplest explanation is usually the correct one: White folks said they were going to vote for Obama when they weren’t.

Yesterday in discussing Steinem’s Op-Ed I briefly outlined some of the effects of white privilege for white women.

Meanwhile, there are 16 women serving in the Senate, all of them white. There have been three black senators since Reconstruction, one of them was a black woman. There is a grand total of ONE serving in the Senate now. White women still earn more money than both black men and black women, and despite the fact that white women are the primary beneficiaries of affirmative action the entire public discourse on the subject centers around race.

[...]

At the same time, it is entirely acceptable to express sexist sentiments directly (like calling Hillary Clinton a “bitch”) while racist attacks on Obama take on poorly veiled (but veiled nonetheless) forms. The reason is because the way racism and sexism work in American society is fundamentally different, not because one is “worse” than the other.

It is a simple fact that when Applebaum and Steinem say “women” they mean white women. When they don’t mean white women they say black women. Black women remain largely absent from the equation of white feminism unless the target of criticism is black, such as a Hip-hop artist. Under such circumstances, white feminists are often content to employ a black female voice so that they cannot be accused of being “racist” for their criticism. The interest in including black women usually wanes soon after.

I do not restrict this criticism to white women, or white feminists. The use of black voices as political props goes across both genders and political parties. While Republicans are somewhat more “honest” about expressing their prejudices, they largely can’t be reasoned with in terms of establishing that racism is still an issue in this country. Liberals are comfortable only when the discussion is about how uncomfortable Republicans are with race. When it comes to confronting their own prejudices, most aren’t as sanguine.

But one of the most important of these advantages is access to power. In terms of electoral politics, white women have a privilege no black person, male or female, will ever have. The GOP functions as a party entirely without the black vote because they don’t need it. The same cannot be said of white women voters. An election can turn on their vote in any state in the Union, but the black vote is only significant enough to do so in certain states.

But discussing sexism without acknowledging white privilege, saying “women” when what you mean is white women, is fundamentally dishonest. It allows people like Applebaum and Steinem to minimize their access to power, which by any objective measure is greater than that of black Americans of either gender. This is not to say that sexism doesn’t exist, or doesn’t place significant obstacles or social double standards in the path of someone like Hillary Clinton; but the reality is that such essentially race neutral discussions about sexism minimize the fact that while Clinton may be a woman, she is still white. There is no Bradley Effect for someone like her.

Suffice it to say that this election will be about race from this point on in a way it hasn’t before. As anxious as I am about what that conversation is going to sound like, in the end it’s for the best.

New England white folks. I knew it! :)

I’m just playin.

Congrats to Senator Clinton. Now it’s officially on! She got 39, Obama 36 or 37, Edwards 17. Somebody tell Edwards to stop Barack-blocking! :)

Apparently women switched in the last 24 hours to support Clinton. Might have had to do with those tears. If so, that only works once. Perhaps not, though. Regardless of the reason, it looks like we have a real race on our hands between these two.

Interesting times my people. This is a reminder that you can take nothing for granted in this election, that none can afford complacency. Please make sure you register to vote in time for your state’s primary.

Link to voter registration is in the left column.

Oh yeah, McCain won too! Will be interesting to see how he plays in the Dirty South (carolina that is) in a few weeks.

With 79% of the precincts reporting:

Clinton : 39%

Obama: 36%

No other explanation for it.

Forgive me if I think that this isn’t such an unusual reaction to black excellence, especially in sports, (I’m pretty sure Paul Robeson and Muhammad Ali got similar reactions, although not as a “joke”) but I think it’s been a while since anyone has vocally expressed something like this:

Golf Channel anchor Kelly Tilghman has made a round of apologies after saying that young golf players should “lynch Tiger Woods in a back alley” as a way to compete with the most dominant player in the sport’s history, ESPN reported Tuesday.

Tilghman made the remarks during Friday’s telecast of the PGA Tour’s opening event at the Mercedes-Benz Championship.

I found this story only when prompted by an email from a reader. Maybe I’ve been overwhelmed with election coverage, but it seems to me that this kind of comment is a big deal and isn’t getting that much attention. Then again, I don’t want to give anyone any ideas.

I know that the comment was intended as a “joke”.

Ha-ha.

According to TPM.

I’m not really sure who to believe, although my instinct is to believe the journalist who reported it. But I’m sure that these same organizations don’t want to be in the doghouse with Obama if he defies the odds and becomes president. So I guess it just depends on who you believe.

Remember when the real fight was supposed to be against Republicans?

A panicked and cash-short Clinton campaign is seriously considering giving up on the Nevada caucuses and on the South Carolina primary in order to regroup and to save resources for the massive 19-state mega-primary on February 5.

At the same time, some top independent expenditure groups supporting Clinton have been exploring the creation of an anti-Obama “527 committee” that would take unlimited contributions from a few of Clinton’s super-rich backers and from a handful of unions to finance television ads and direct mail designed to tarnish the Illinois Senator’s image.

The Clinton campaign has raised over $100 million, but has “only” $15 to $20 million left. It faces donor reluctance to give more in the face of the Iowa defeat and the prospect of a second loss in New Hampshire today. Even worse, the campaign fears defections among those fundraisers who want to be with a winner and who might be easily persuaded to support Barack Obama.

How could anyone want these people to be in office again, given an alternative choice?

Three groups conducting independent expenditure campaigns in behalf of Clinton – Emily’s List, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) – have explored the possibility of trying to put together a multi-million dollar effort privately dubbed the Anybody-But-Obama 527 Committee, but they have run into problems finding any Democratic operative willing to become the director of a campaign against the man who now is the odds-on favorite to become the party’s nominee.

“You might make some good money in the short term, but your chances of getting any Democratic contracts in the future, especially if Obama wins, would be zilch,” said one operative. “I wouldn’t go there.” The effectiveness of a 527 that goes negative was demonstrated by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which attacked John Kerry’s war record in the 2004 campaign.

Expect them to go after Obama’s Church first. The Clinton campaign will betray all the progressive ideals they supposedly stand for to win this election. And they will govern the same way.

A question for Democrats: Are you going to be proud of your party if Hillary swift-boats Obama to become the nominee? What moral high ground against the Republican Noise Machine will you have then? Worse, what if Hillary’s attack damages Obama but fails to prevent his winning the nomination, and sows the seeds for his eventual defeat in the general election?

“Change” indeed.

The obsessive atheism of Christopher Hitchens has turned itself towards black history and Obama’s recent success. In classic reactionary fashion, Hitchens employs a racist, colonialist language in order to point out just how racist everyone else is.


Or perhaps not. Isn’t there something pathetic and embarrassing about this emphasis on shade? And why is a man with a white mother considered to be “black,” anyway? Is it for this that we fought so hard to get over Plessy v. Ferguson? Would we accept, if Obama’s mother had also been Jewish, that he would therefore be the first Jewish president? (Yes Chris, that’s how Judaism works) The more that people claim Obama’s mere identity to be a “breakthrough,” the more they demonstrate that they have failed to emancipate themselves from the original categories of identity that acted as a fetter upon clear thought.

Note his assessment of Kenya:

Last week happened to be the week that the nation of Kenya—birthplace of Obama’s father—was convulsed by a political war that contained ghastly overtones of violent and sadistic tribalism. It would sound as absurd to a Kenyan to hear praise for a black candidate as it would sound to most of my European readers to hear a recommendation of a “great white hope.”

See, the political violence in Kenya is different, because it’s “tribal” (I have expressed my opinion on the use of “tribe” to characterize ethnic groups in Africa here). Nevermind that the ethnic violence Hitchens insincerely laments is the result of the reckless and inhuman colonial policies of his home country.

Hitchens concludes there is something embarrassing and pathetic about paying attention to Barack Obama’s race, but he sees nothing pathetic in using colonialist language to characterize political violence in Kenya. Hitchens claims he is “emancipated from original categories of identity,” but he is merely a slave who thinks himself free.

Beyond which, he is entirely wrong about the significance of Obama’s candidacy in Kenya. The East African media is ablaze with news of Senator Obama’s triumph, despite the violence in Kenya. It is important to them, like it is important to black Americans, precisely because of the mentality of “intellectuals” like Hitchens whose most consistent goal seems to perpetuate their own sense of cultural and racial superiority. Obama makes us proud; nothing to be taken for granted in a world where respected intellectuals categorize us as “tribal” and “substandard.”

I’m often amused by white people who claim not to understand ethnic solidarity. What this means is that they have perfected it to the point that it is instinctual, reflexive. Words like “tribalism” occur naturally to Hitchens, because he has so internalized white supremacy that its expression is effortless, like Sean Hannity or Bill O’Reilly.

Hitchens continues, criticizing Obama’s Church as a “substandard” and “shade-oriented place”.

Much or most of what Trinity United says is harmless and boring, rather like Gov. Mike Huckabee’s idiotic belief that his own success in Iowa is comparable to the “miracle” of the loaves and fishes, and the site offers a volume called Bad Girls of the Bible: Exploring Women of Questionable Virtue, which I have added to my cart, but nobody who wants to be taken seriously can possibly be associated with such a substandard and shade-oriented place.

Hitchens is like most white people: He only notices “shade-oriented places” when the shade is black. When the shade is white, he is comfortable, and so would never characterize it as such. By virtue of it’s black identity, it is “substandard,” and “not serious.” Still Hitchens chides others for their racism.

The fact is that the world is a “shade-oriented place,” and while the specifics change from one location to another, the reality is that those of us not included in what Hitchens understands as “normal” create our own spaces to preserve our sense of self-worth. These are places where widespread problems like political violence aren’t characterized in the primitivist manner Hitchens uses.

The unspoken agreement to concede the black community to the sway of the pulpit is itself a form of racist condescension. The sickly canonization of Martin Luther King Jr. has led to a crude rewriting of history that obliterates the great black and white secularists—Bayard Rustin, A. Philip Randolph, Walter Reuther—who actually organized the March on Washington. It has also allowed a free pass to any demagogue who can manage to get the word reverend in front of his name.

The incredibly patronizing conclusion that black people have been “conceded” to the sway of the pulpit, as though we had no will or mind of our own, is not “a form” of racist condescension” but simply racist condescension. Black people trust the Church because during slavery, when we had nothing else, we had the Church. This isn’t sentimentality; this is history. The only formal leadership structure in the black community during chattel slavery was that of the Church. I’m sorry if that offends Hitchens as an atheist, but I’m offended by the fact that my ancestors were enslaved, so I guess we’re “even”.

I know who Bayard Rustin, Asa Philip Randolph, and Walter Reuther are. But that’s because I went to an Afrocentric high school in Washington DC, precisely the kind of “shade-oriented place” Hitchens is dismissing as “ethnic”. Had I gone to a normal public school in another town, I would have no idea who the men Hitchens mentions are, precisely because most schools or even universities have no interest in delving into black history, because they are shade-oriented towards white people. Which is why Hitchens doesn’t have a problem with them.

All this easy talk about being a “uniter” and not a “divider” is piffle if people are talking out of both sides of their mouths. I have been droning on for months about how Mitt Romney needs to answer questions about the flat-out racist background of his own church, and about how Huckabee has shown in public that he does not even understand the first thing about a theory—the crucial theory of evolution by natural selection—in which he claims not to believe. Many Democrats are with me on this, but they go completely quiet when Sen. Obama chooses to give his allegiance to a crackpot church with a decidedly ethnic character.

If Hitchens were any kind of honest, he would level the same questions at the other candidates in the race, demanding to know why each one of their Churches worships a blond-haired, blue eyed Jesus Christ. It seems obvious that people of Middle Eastern descent don’t look like that, but Hitchens sees nothing “shade-oriented” about the vast majority of Americans, including all the presidential candidates who claim to attend Church, worshipping an Aryan Jesus. Hitchens may be famous for his religious skepticism, but he is a true believer in his refined, upper-class denomination of white supremacy.

What’s sad is that Hitchens, in his fervor to criticize those who recognize the significance of Obama’s victory, the global significance of his victory, as racist, he neglects to do any kind of self-examination.

And why would he? He’s white, so he’s already perfect. Not substandard, or unserious, or shade oriented. Not at all.

Cross-posted to goodCRIMETHINK

Reaction to Obama in New Hampshire and Abroad

I would love to be in New Hampshire, on the ground, to get a feel for the environment, and trust me, if I still lived in Boston, I’d do it. Instead, I’m trying my best to tap various networks for some testimony from up North.  This isn’t in any way scientific, but the vibe looks very good for Obama. Consider the following

The reaction of these two New Hampshire women after seeing Obama speak:

I have a tolerate-hate relationship with Facebook, but when I posted a request for New Hampshire stories, I got this from a black man volunteering for the campaign:

There were old white ladies stumping all over town. Some very wealthy, comfortable people who traveled from across the country to volunteer and campaign for this man. His grassroots organizing in rural and urban areas in incredible! I spoke to Republicans yesterday who would stay on the phone asking questions about him, expressing support or simply are intrigued by him. He has an event at Exeter High school today to draw undecided (it is overbooked at the moment with concerns from that Fire Chief on fire evacuation plans!!!)

anyways, I can go on and on here. U need to see to it for yourself and it is amazing to watch this as a BLACK man! Because our own internal racism kicks in and we still say
but will he win in a general election?? It is similar to the racist critique of the Clintons that he is not prepared. But it is there for black people we are not willing to believe that a black man CAN make it! And the we are only willing to legitimize him because white people want him, so now we are willing to vote for him. There is something going on with Obama which goes beyond politics it is touching our core conscious/unconscious issues as americans, and that is why he will win in November.

Another volunteer in NH responding to me via Facebook:

We are making it happen. People are feeling it. I stood on the porch
yesterday with a man who told me he feels a positivity about this election that he can’t remember seeing before. Record turnout tomorrow.
History.

Then there’s this perspective from the New York Times in its piece, Obama outshining Bill Clinton:

DURHAM, N.H. — Is this what it would have been like had Elvis been reduced to playing Reno?

Former President Bill Clinton
has been drawing sleepy and sometimes smallish crowds at big venues in the state that revived his presidential campaign in 1992. He entered to polite applause and rows of empty seats at the University of New Hampshire
on Friday. Several people filed out midspeech, and the room was largely quiet as he spoke, with few interruptions for laughter or applause. He talked about his administration, his foundation work and some about his wife.

We’ve written at JJP and readers have been more forceful in their comments, talking about the awkward, possibly jealous feeling older black leaders feel in response to Obama’s rise, but I never thought I’d see the day when Bill Clinton failed to light up a room. Obviously, I don’t know the Clintons’ innermost feelings and motivations, but I can imagine that Bill saw Hillary’s campaign having only the upside benefit of extending his legacy and brand. I wonder if he ever imagined the downside risk of accelerating its end?

I’m not saying Bill Clinton would not be relevant under an Obama presidency, I’m just saying it’s hilarious to me, the idea that Obama has sucked so much air out of the environment, that there are empty chairs left at a Bill Clinton speech. Damn. Oh, and according to Jose Vargas at the Washington Post, it happened at Dartmouth too with kids walking out after 30 minutes.

Another observation on Republicans open to the idea of a President Obama. Check this comment from a reader of the NY Sun, a conservative paper:

Thank you for your editorial today (Jan 7) on Obama. As a Reagan Republican, I have marveled at and admired Obama’s rise to prominence in the early Democrat primaries. Although his policy views no doubt differ significantly from Reagan’s, I could actually see myself voting for the man in November, a thought that would make my skin crawl were Clinton or Edwards the nominee. Other close acquaintances, all conservatives, have suggested the same inclination.

Finally, well beyond New Hampshire, here are some anecdotes about the world’s reaction to Obama’s Iowa victory:

From a friend abroad who recently emailed everyone he knew asking them to donate to Obama:

I have never directly asked my friends for money (well not for politics anyway). But over the last week, as evidenced by the countless Egyptians who shook my hand while pointing to my Obama ’08 button and the result in Iowa, I saw that people everywhere are starting to sense that Senator Obama is going to help our country turn a corner and start projecting a new image in the world.

From a paper in South Africa: Hope returns: Obama’s victory and global politics

Damn, I love Americans. Just when you’ve written them off as hopeless, as a nation in decline, they turn around and do something extraordinary, which tells you why the United States of America is
still the greatest nation on earth.

and finally, Iranian bloggers discuss Obama’s Iowa victory.

That’s all for now. We’ll see what happens by the end of the day.


Who We Are

Cheryl Contee aka "Jill Tubman", Baratunde Thurston aka "Jack Turner", rikyrah, Leutisha Stills aka "The Christian Progressive Liberal", B-Serious, Casey Gane-McCalla, Jonathan Pitts-Wiley aka "Marcus Toussaint," Fredric Mitchell

Special Contributors: James Rucker, Rinku Sen, Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, Adam Luna, Kamala Harris

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