Historic Firsts


I just watched Keith Olbermann’s commentary blasting Clinton for her handling — or should I say mishandling? — of Geraldine Ferraro’s blatantly racist remarks about Obama’s campaign.

It’s superb. One of the things I love about Keith Olbermann is that he doesn’t just use words to convey his point of view. The tone and pitch of his voice, his expressions, the way he phrases his commentaries, like a singer phrases a song — all of these convey his moral outrage at least as much as his words do.

The transcript is here.

Commentary is here.

My commentary on the commentary: Some of the nominally liberal bloggers are vying with the far right crowd to see who can be more regressive.

In fact, at least one conservative Republican blogger is more reality-based on this subject:

… Once again, we see the high-wire political apology in play — I’m sorry some took offense. She apparently got better as the speech progressed, “repudiating” Ferraro’s analysis and offering “deep regret”. The reference to the “very large” committee sounds like a weasel phrase intended to limit Hillary’s responsibility for the actions of her surrogates. Is it so large that Hillary has people on there she doesn’t want, or is Hillary merely bragging about the size of her campaign.

Clearly, though, Hillary has thrown Ferraro under the bus now, but the damage has been done. Ferraro’s comments have amplified the identity-politics polarization that Bill Clinton started in South Carolina, and the timing couldn’t be better for Hillary. The primaries now go through states with high proportions of white working-class Democratic voters such as Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Indiana, and Kentucky. Hillary may repudiate Ferraro, but she will benefit from her comments.

Hillary spoke of the need for healing after the end of the primary process as well, saying that she hoped her supporters would back Obama if he won the nomination as well as the reverse. The former has a moderate possibility of happening, but the latter looks increasingly unlikely. The bitterness of this campaign will not dissipate in the thin air of Denver.

Ann Althouse also grasps the point:

“I am sorry if anyone was offended. It was certainly not meant in any way to be offensive. We can be proud of both Jesse Jackson and Senator Obama.”

I hope people are noticing what a ridiculous and even offensive non-apology this is! Why is Jesse Jackson making an appearance in Hillary Clinton’s statement? It’s like this, isn’t it? And it’s diminishing to say we can be “proud of” him. That’s like patting him on the head and saying “good for you.” And I don’t see how anyone can think we won’t notice the sorry-if-you-were-offended locution. It’s not an apology! Now, maybe Hillary thinks she shouldn’t have to apologize. Fine, then, be straightforward about it. Defend Ferraro if that’s your real view. And, while you are at it, frankly own up to the fact that you‘ve been asking us to give you bonus points for being a woman.

More typical, though, is this one:

Three apologies in one sitting? I think La Clinton is shooting for a national record of sorts. Can we now get back now to discussing how both she and Barack Obama are not only trying to pass themselves off as something they’re not, but are also advocating big government policies that aren’t just baby steps towards Socialism but giant leaps? Please?

Apparently to Sister Toldjah, racism is a trivial little side issue that isn’t even a problem anymore, if it ever was. And maybe that’s part of the insidiousness of racism. It’s largely invisible to those Americans who aren’t negatively affected by it, and it’s always been that way.

Is it still a problem today? You bet it is:

Anyone who thinks that racism in this country was eliminated when they eradicated Jim Crow laws or waved the magic wand of affirmative action should watch this video where a black reporter is viciously attacked by a white family for doing her job…

Here is the news item Libby is talking about:

A black female reporter in South Carolina was standing on a street covering a crime story when she was attacked by an entire white family, yelling racial slurs [CNN]. The reporter, Charmayne Brown, was thrown down on the ground, punched, and, it appears, strangled a bit. The entire attack was caught on tape by another (white) TV crew on the scene. Which raises the point: WAY TO JUMP IN AND STOP THE ATTACK, RIVAL TV CAMERA CREW. Jesus. News is a rough business. … Brown’s own (black) cameraman helped pull her to safety, and she is fine.

Would Sister Toldjah ever blog about an incident like this, unless it were to scoff at the notion that Charmayne Brown was assaulted for the sole reason of her skin color?

Kyle Moore puts his finger on the subtext (or at least one subtext) of Clinton’s decision to put race and gender on the front burner:

While Clinton’s South Carolina comments were incredibly insensitive, I do not think they in and of themselves were the most damaging to this primary season. Nor, believe it or not, Geraldine Ferraro’s comments. These are individual events, building blocks for a darker whole that has made of this contest the last thing I hoped would come to pass.

The greatest transgression that Clinton still needs to apologize for is what this election has become; in many ways a contest between who was wronged worse, and who deserves retribution more. A contest that at one time held the potential of being truly historic not by the fact that a woman and a black man were running for president, but instead by the fact that they would be judged on their merits and not by the color of their skin or their gender has become in some way a vitriolic contest of which focus group is more entitled.

It is incredibly difficult to see the bulk of the responsibility here lying anywhere but firmly in the Clinton camp. These comments that she apologized for are only a fraction of the story, one that omits Billy Shaheen, and Bob Johnson, that omits “Shuck and Jive”, and “Kenneth Starr”. Now, keep in mind, I can be described as an Obama partisan, but I’m also not cherry picking, nor am I stretching. …
[…]
The worst part of all this is not what is happening within the campaigns, though, but what happens among the supporters. We are now locked in mortal combat with each other, fighting this pissing contest of which focus group has hurt the most. Who’s suffered the most? Have blacks, or women? As though the winner of that particularly heinous contest should by right be made president.

Have we lost our damn minds?

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2 Comments on “Historic Firsts”

  1. elayneriggs Says:

    So anyone who disagrees with your (and Olbermann’s) conclusions is now only nominally liberal?

  2. Kathy Says:

    Not “anyone who disagrees” with my and Olbermann’s conclusions, no. But the vehemently pro-Clinton bloggers to whom I linked did not simply disagree and state the grounds for their disagreement in a civil manner. They attacked Olbermann and his commentary in a very inflammatory and personal manner. Larry Johnson even called for bloggers to “boycott” Olbermann. Obviously, anyone who wants to boycott Olbermann has the right to do so, but the issues Olbermann raised are real and valid; certainly he said nothing that lots of other folks — Democrat and Republican — have been saying about the way Clinton has chosen to run her campaign for many weeks now.

    What I object to in the responses from the blogs I linked to is the fact that their support for a Clinton presidency is getting to be so ideological and rigidly dogmatic that they are, to all appearances, incapable of recognizing, much less criticizing, political behavior that they would roundly condemn if it came from a Republican. In fact, Clinton is looking more and more like Pres. Bush every day in her lack of concern for truth, for public opinion, and for the larger common good. She would rather destroy the Democratic Party and see John McCain elected president than lose the nomination to Obama.

    I personally think she is despicable, and I have no hesitation saying so.


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