Friday, January 25, 2008

Democratic Racial Politics-and "That Slum Lord, Rezko"

L-R Hillary, that slum lord, Rezko, Bill
(It's a Small World!)

For years, the Democratic Party has prided itself as the "Party of Inclusion", in other words, the party that represented women and minorities. In recent decades, they have dominated the black vote as well as the Hispanic vote (with the notable exception of Cuban-Americans). In addition, the Democrats and their liberal supporters have demonized the Republican Party as the party of "the white boys", to borrow a phrase from Donna Brazile. True, Republicans have been slow to attract black voters with their conservative message as opposed to the liberal give-away programs of the Democrats. Their most recent president, Bill Clinton, has often been referred to as "America's first black president." However, with Barack Obama making a strong challenge to Hillary Clinton's expected coronation, the Democratic Party, led by the Clinton machine, is finding itself increasingly divided by race and gender-more reminiscent of the old "Dixiecrats".

As things stand now, Obama is getting the black votes, as evidenced in Michigan and Nevada. Hillary is getting the white vote, especially white women. With South Carolina coming up (with half of the Democratic voters being black), the lines are apparently being drawn even more clearly. Mr Clinton has acknowledged that Obama will win the black vote in South Carolina (and thus probably win the state). Some of the Clintons biggest detractors, like Rush Limbaugh and Dick Morris, are pushing the theory that the Clintons are planning to use the loss of South Carolina to create a "white backlash" in Florida and the other major states.

Hillary has also raised some hackles with her comparison of the civil rights contributions of Martin Luther King and Lyndon Johnson. (That seems to me to be a case of hyper-sensitivity-ditto for Bill's "fairy tale" remark, which was taken out of context.) Bill, for his part, has made the usual fool out of himself with his angry attacks at reporters who ask inconvenient questions. In spite of the pleas of many in his party, Bill can't stop being on center stage.

One factor that I think has been largely overlooked is the Hispanic vote-particularly Mexican-Americans. Largely Democratic, like black voters, it seems the (Mexican-American) Hispanic vote is going to Hillary as evidenced by the 64% who voted for her in Nevada and the endorsement of the United Farm Workers. Why is that? Unfortunately, notwithstanding public statements made by black and Hispanic public figures, there is a degree of antipathy between the Mexican and black communities in places like Los Angeles and other large cities, where black and Hispanic gangbangers are killing each other on city streets. The same situation exists in California prisons. (I don't mean to suggest that gangbangers and prison inmates are representative of those communities, but this conflict can't be ignored.)

This is what happens when you put ethnic groups into categories or tribes, if you will. Now the Democrats are learning that race-based politics can boomerang. Now the Democrats are tearing themselves to pieces over race and gender. But who will call them racists?

In addition, two significant events have occurred regarding Hillary in the last 48 hours. First, she won the endorsement of the New York Times, not surprising, but notable in the gushing tone of the editorial. (Of course, the New York Times is now only a shell of its former great self-now one of the most partisan newspapers in the country.)

Then there's this: Remember the South Carolina debate a few days ago when Hillary threw out the charge that Obama was doing business with "that slum lord contributor, Rezko"? (Tony Rezko, friend of Obama, Chicago developer and accused racketeer, who is under federal indictment on corruption charges). On today's Today Show, Hillary Clinton appeared with Matt Lauer who threw up an old photograph from the Clinton White House years showing Bill, Hillary and guess who? Tony Rezko! Explanation? "We have had our picture taken with thousands of people- Can't be expected to know them all". (I'll say!)

I sure hope that the mainstream news media does their job and reports on Mr Rezko. The Chicago press has reported for some time on the relationship between Obama and Rezko. This week, the LA Times has followed suit. Many of the details are out there just waiting for nation-wide dissemination. Now, it is the job of the news media to investigate the relationship between the Clintons and Rezko. How did Rezko get his picture taken with the Clintons? What did he contribute to the Clintons and what did he receive from them?

Maybe the New York Times will get to the bottom of it. (Don't hold your breath.)


Anonymous said...

I'm not sure what you're referring to by "Clinton's angry attacks at reporters" but The Daily Show did a funny bit where they played several clips of various newscasts (mainly the cable news channels like Fox and CNN) where reporters talked about Clinton "lashing out" and attacking reporters. Then they showed the actual footage that they were referring to, and Clinton, while definitely being argumentative, was quite calm and in control.

They also did the same thing with Mit Romney, who supposedly "erupted" but his answer was actually pretty calm. After that, they had a pretty funny bit of Jon Stewart supposedly going nuts as well.

The video's online in the "Coming Up Next" section, titled "Mitt Romney Erupts" and "Daily Show Showdown".

Anonymous said...

Oh, and the link, obviously, is:

Gary Fouse said...

Yes, you are correct, but don't forget, from all we have heard about Bill's anger, his is of the "cold" variety (unlike Hillary's)